Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nobody Likes A Cheater [Michael Vinciguerra]

The title of this article has been used by those who have played any type of competitive game, but who would have imagined this phrase would someday be applied to a major league sport, specifically baseball. The use of steroids by major league baseball players is the cause of this cheating. Steroids in baseball has always been an issue, but has not taken center stage until the release of Jose Canseco’s, 'Juiced', in which he specifically points out baseball superstars, such as Mark McGwire, Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, and Rafael Palmeiro, who potentially may have used steroids. Canseco himself also admitted to using steroids during his career and pointed towards the company BALCO as the source of the production of these steroids. The steroid controversy has reached the Senate where the ongoing argument is how the league should regulate the use of performance enhancement drugs as a result of baseball commissioner Bud Selig failing to do so properly. My question, however, is what is the harm of baseball players using steroids and the effects of steroids on the game of baseball and its fans.

Steroids are illegal in the United States. There is NO way it would be all right for athletes to take steroids and not make them legal for everyone else. If steroids were made legal in major league baseball, then children who look up to this sport and the players would view this as an advertisement stating there is no harm in taking this drug. Meanwhile, steroids harms the body in terms of heart and liver damage, strokes, elevated cholesterol, and other life threatening problems I doubt Major League Baseball would want to be held responsible for. The last thing baseball needs is parents threatening to file lawsuits against them because children interpreted their claim as being all right to take steroids.

Baseball players use steroids as a muscle enhancement drug. By improving themselves artificially, players provide a better show for the crowds, increase their paycheck, and earn more revenue for their ball club. If you’re sitting in AAA and you have a wife and three kids, and the guy in front of you is hitting 25 home runs and playing second base, you’re looking up and saying to yourself , “how am I going to support my family? When am I going to get the big contract?” My response is if one needs to resort to steroids because they don’t have the power on their own to produce a home run quality swing, then they should not even be in AAA to begin with. There are numerous players, including pitchers, who are able to hit home runs without using this illegal performance-enhancing drug. Baseball players need to understand power alone does not foster a home run swing. Rather, the more important ingredients are skill, accuracy, and timing. Athletes should not have to put their lives at risk because they are at a disadvantage nor should they feel forced to harm their body to keep up with the sluggers ahead of them.

As mentioned earlier, baseball players take steroids to provide better shows for their fans. The cliche “ignorance is bliss” applies here because when a fan likes his favorite baseball player, he likes that player for who he is and what he has accomplished. However, if that athlete becomes exposed to the fact he used steroids, the cliche “ignorance is bliss” switches to “say it ain’t so.” Fans of that player no longer admire his work because they realize he is a fake. Rafael Palmeiro is a good example. Fans of the Baltimore Orioles loved Palmeiro until his recent exposure of using steroids. He even lied to the Senate about his use. Now fans of the Orioles do not wish to associate the bird with that player. In addition, as a result of steroids being used by players, stats and records are being blown away and history is being rewritten unjustly. Our national pastime is being tainted by drug abuse. When legends like Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth set and broke records, they did not have the luxury of steroids. Players breaking records today are doing it unfairly, and steroids is the cause of that.

Therefore, steroids should be banned from baseball and drastic actions should be taken to keep steroids from being used further. Steroids is polluting baseball because newer players are feeling required to resort to steroids and harm their body in order to compete. This pollutes the sport further. The MLB should test everyone, instead of random players like they do now, simultaneously at a specific date. The fact some players get away with using steroids and others do not is unfair. Players who still wish to pursue steroids even after they realize the possible consequences of their actions should do so at their own risk because steroids raise the probability of that player becoming injured, especially if taken in large doses over time. In other words, if players do not wish to stop taking them because of legal consequences, then they should stop taking steroids because they will be screwed health-wise in the long run.

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