We’ve all read the articles and heard the stories about performance enhancing drugs in sports. Mark McGwire breaks Roger Maris’ single season home run record. Oh wait…he was juicing.
Barry Bonds breaks Mark McGwire’s single season record a couple of years later? Juicer. Sammy Sosa hits 60 plus home runs three times? Yep, it’s a steroid aided accomplishment. Roger Clemens gets better with age? ‘Roids.
And it’s not just baseball. We have heard the stories about Olympic athletes such as Marion Jones, who actually did jail time for lying about PED use. Football players such as Lyle Alzado, who died of cancer caused by years of steroid use have us shaking our heads. We wonder if ANY of the athletes we watch are on the up and up.
But let’s look at this logically for a second. Ball players of years gone by did not lift weights and train during their down time. Should we penalize today’s players for lifting weights and staying in shape too? If the players of those years had PEDs and all the exercise equipment available, do you think they would have said “no thanks?” I think not. But, still we have to ask ourselves what the pros and cons of these drugs are, and if they should be illegal.
We know that steroids cause many unhealthy things in chronic users to happen. We’ve seen people have issues with their moods, their physical appearance (not all of which are bulging muscles), and ultimately their health. So obviously, these things should not be legal. But what about HGH? Supposedly, human growth hormone produces faster healing of injuries, replaces muscle and bone density lost with aging, etc. What’s wrong with that?
Are there any side effects of HGH? I have yet to hear of them doing anything negative to the body. Do they cause cancer? Do they cause ED? DO they make your hair fall out? Do they give you bad breath? I haven’t heard this. So why not let players use these?
Well, the obvious argument is because players of the past did not have access to these PEDs. So if their records are then broken by players who do have access, are these records somehow tainted? One could argue that they are. At least career records would be. If players of today, through science instead of nature, don’t suffer the loss of ability due to aging that past players did, then indeed they do have an unfair advantage. If you’re Albert Pujols, and you can use HGH and keep hitting home runs well into your 40s, then of course you will break career marks set by Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, who started losing their skills in their 30s.
But then again, we use technology to make our lives better all the time. We have cell phones that allow us to do business from literally everywhere. Do people complain about these making life easier for us than past generations? Maybe old people who just like to complain about how tough they had it. Do the people using computers, cell phones, fax machines, etc decline to use these because any sales records they may break would then be considered tainted? Doubtful. When you have goals to meet in any other business, you use whatever is available to you to achieve your goals. So, if there are drugs that have only positive effects with no negative side effects, then why should they be illegal?
If science can produce PEDs that will not harm their users, or if those already exist, then I don’t see any reason why they should be illegal. If the old generation complains about it, then just add that to the already long list of things they already have to complain about.
Someday, the records that are being broken today, will be broken in the future possibly by even better technology. Golfers have better golf clubs today then in generations past. Tennis players have better racquets. Race car drivers have better equipment. There is no reason to believe this trend will not continue in the future.
And really, are the players playing today responsible for players who played in the past? Their job is to win games now. Their responsibility is to their teams and their fans of today. It is not their job to worry about guys of yesterday.