Last Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, Alex Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension — handed down to him by Major League Baseball for his connection to Biogenesis — was shortened to 162 games by an arbitrator.
This column is not my attempt to praise performance-enhancing drug use, nor is it to condone it.....
This column is not my attempt to praise performance-enhancing drug use, nor is it to condone it. It is simply my attempt to question what would happen if steroids were embedded in other areas of life, not just sport, and what would we do about it?
As I watched the 60-Minutes interview with Tony Bosch, the man behind Biogenesis, I found some agreement in what he said. He made a point about the use of steroids being prevalent in Major League Baseball — that the guy on the plate could be facing a juiced pitcher, then hit it to an outfielder that was juicing, who then throws it into the infield to someone else who is juiced. Bosch suggested that if steroid use were simply a part of the game, why is he to blame for helping enable athletes who wanted to be equally juiced?
The interviewer, Scott Pelley, seemed to be highly offended by this statement. At the end of the interview he made the point that a lot of innocent ballplayers would be angry at that statement.
But the reality is, many baseball players use steroids (just Google News search players who have been busted taking steroids). And many of them have been handed suspensions. I am sure plenty of them have gotten away with it. And some great ones never needed it — like my all-time favorite Frank Thomas (who I was pumped got into the Hall, as I have more than 400 of his autographs). But the reality is: steroids are a part of today’s game.
I think back to the late 80s / early 90s when I proudly had the Bash Brothers, Jose Canseco and Mark McGuire, poster on my wall. In fact, I am sure a ton of people did. I have no probably admitting I cheered on McGuire and Sosa as they raced to break the homerun record. I even enjoyed watching Barry Bonds crush towering homeruns during his run — and loved watching Roger Clemens throw awesome games.
Everyone knew their arms, legs, bodies and heads got bigger. But no one cared, because we were entertained by the tremendous accomplishments these power athletes were accomplishing.
I stood up and cheered. I knew Big Mac was taking something. I knew and I didn’t care, so why should I care now?
Even though I loved watching these superstar athletes, I never did or have done steroids. I didn’t feel the need to (maybe because Frank Thomas, my favorite player, wasn’t doing it). Nor do I think it would have helped me become a superstar high school ballplayer.
The reality is, steroids don’t make you a natural athlete (I highly doubt I would hit more 3-pointers during Sunday basketball if I ‘roided). They simply add some muster to your punch.
And often times, it seems that steroids can help. I know people who have used steroids to enhance their performance. Many of them are for pains in their backs or for various health conditions, but they have done some kind of steroids it has made them better.
All those who criticize steroid or performance enhancement use: think about your own life. What would you do to get ahead? And more importantly, what would you do to stay even?
I think about this and have thought about this. Think back to the music you love, like one of the greatest bands in the history of rock ‘n roll — the Beatles. They have admitted drug use, including psychedelics. And in many interviews, they even suggested it helped them write better music. Should we put an asterisk next to their names, or rather ours, when we listen and sing along? Do we chastise them for abusing drugs in order to gain a competitive creative mind while writing music.
Of course not.
What if there were steroid use in business? What if injecting a shot each morning or using night cream helped you become more efficient, creative and smart in business? What if that use helped you make more money? What if you could use it before your review and get more dollars? Would you say no?
If there were ‘roids in business, and many were taking them to help them access more of their brains for better performance, many CEOs would take them. Period.
I can’t say that if there existed a steroid in business that allowed me to come up with more ideas for our clients — which, in turn, would grow my business — that I would absolutely, 100 percent say no.
How many CEOs have a glass of wine to relax after work? How many of them do this to refresh their minds so they can de-stress and work better?
Is wine drinking performance enhancing? Wait —should I be drinking wine while writing this?
While I have never smoked weed (or a cigarette for that matter), I know many of you who are reading this now have. How many of you smoked it to feel better or more relaxed?
Is that performance enhancing?
When Bosch said everyone was doing it, that is probably a far stretch. But even if many are doing it, wouldn’t you think about using steroids to, at the very least, stay competitive with your peers?
Did the Rolling Stones say no drugs when the Beatles were doing them? Do you not like their music because they did them?
I understand that baseball is “America’s Favorite Pastime,” but treat it fairly — treat them fairly. If you said McGuire was a cheat when he was crushing homeruns, and did not raise your hand to celebrate, then good for you — you can chastise him. But I certainly cheered for him, would gladly accept an autograph, oh, and I love the Beatles.
I just don’t see the big issue with steroid use (as long as they are not abused). I like watching homeruns and great pitching efforts. If juicing helps these super athletes recover faster and play more efficiently, then good for them. If it helps them battle through 162 games a year, then isn’t that a medical enhancement? And if they happen to hit more homeruns, then awesome for the fans.
Why are we judging these athletes? Go look in the mirror and ask yourself if you have ever done anything wrong in life, or rather, anything that someone else would perceive as wrong. If the answer is yes, Mr. Reporter, Hall of Fame Voter, Businessman, then shut up and worry about yourself.
Don’t abuse the ‘roids (and kids, don’t be dumb and use them). But who are we to judge what other people do?