By Tyler Lemco
Almost all the major sports (and minor ones, for that matter) have rules against the use of steroids. These “performance enhancing drugs” are thought to be cheating in the athletic landscape. That’s dumb. I say let them juice up as much as they want!
Intrinsically, the purpose of sports is to entertain. This dates back to the beginning of sports and organized competition, where gladiators would fight to the death in front of legions and legions of enthralled spectators. All we care about is the action. Give us highlights and give us excitement and we’ll keep coming back time and time again.
Steroids are called “performance enhancing drugs” for a reason. It’s because they enhance the performance of the athlete taking it. It’s arguably what helped Lance Armstrong cycle past all his competitors for years. It’s arguably what helped Barry Bonds knock a billion home runs out of the park throughout his career. It’s the unspoken secret that’s quietly been supplying us with some of our most memorable and entertaining sports moments throughout history. But it’s illegal.
Why is it illegal? Let me put it this way: imagine you’re a farmer. You grow crops and your annual income, and survival, relies on the amount of quality crops you can produce. Then, I come to you and say, “Hey, I’ve got this substance that’ll increase your productivity by leaps and bounds.” You’d be a fool not to take it. Sure, it may be dangerous and there may be long-term health risks to exposing yourself to this substance, but you’re a farmer through and through and your success hinges on how well you can produce. If you can go from selling $100,000 in a year to selling $1,000,000 in a year, then you’re damn well going to take that risk.
The same is true in athletics. These guys are pro athletes. The “pro” stands for “professional.” This is who they are and this is what they do, so why purposefully put a ceiling on their ability to do their job? Because of health risks? You’re telling me that 260-pound men running full force at one another 75 times in an afternoon and risking multiple injuries and concussions is less risky than taking a controlled substance to help your performance? You’re telling me the cocaine that every NBA player of the 1970s was doing is less dangerous than the needle A-Rod shoves in his ass? You’re saying the LSD that Dock Ellis was on while pitching a no-hitter was better than the PEDs that helped Shawne Merriman tackle? That’s some nonsense if you ask me. It’s all dangerous and it’s all part of the risk of being a pro athlete. These guys make millions of dollars for a reason: to do their job in the best possible way. Their bodies are machines, finely tuned to perform at the highest level. Why dis-allow them from using the best premium gasoline?
It’s the equivalent to a student taking Adderall or Ritalin to study for an exam, because let’s face it: that is an extremely common practice whether they’re prescribed the drug or not. It’s something that will help them study longer hours and more efficiently, therefore helping increase their chances of doing better in school. It’s, by definition, a performance-enhancing drug. It’s clearly illegal, but nobody would ever discredit someone’s A+ on an exam because they chose to take Ritalin to study. How come it matters for home runs?
Look, I don’t care about baseball. Never have, and probably never will. It’s boring, it’s long, and it’s mostly just standing around in my opinion. I’ve never cared to follow a season or keep track of any stats. On the other hand, did I follow along when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were knocking dingers back and forth? Of course I did. Was I watching Barry Bonds break the home run record? I watched the entire game. Am I currently keeping tabs on A-Rod’s rise up the rankings? Indeed I am.
The point I’m making is this: I cared. These athletes, whether performing legally or illegally, did something to turn a non-spectator into a spectator. They entertained, they captured people’s attention, and they performed their sport at the highest imaginable level (even beyond human capabilities). Is that not the purpose of sports, to be a source of entertainment? And you’re going to ban a substance that’s sole purpose is to increase the level of entertainment? That just doesn’t add up to me.
Tyler is a fan of the San Antonio Spurs and the Baltimore Ravens. He is a writer from Montreal, Canada and enjoys cheeseburgers, sports, music, and double cheeseburgers. Follow him on Twitter and every other social media @tlemco