by Tyler Tietz
Through out my years as an athlete, I have always looked at ways to improve my game. Whether it be new techniques for my baseball swing, a new weight lifting program to build up strength, or maybe even that new protein shake to get a little bigger and better in a natural way. But every now and then, I have seen -and played against- guys that were bigger than everyone else on the field. These boys had full, dark beards and most boys that age can barely grow a whisker. These other guys weighed twice the size I do and look like they lived an entire year at the gym. Then you hear some people in the stands whispering to each other, “That boy has got to be on steroids.” In some cases the spectators may be right. Then I have to think to myself, ‘Isn’t that a little unfair to the other players out here?’ And the answer to that is absolutely yes! In high school, I was looking for anything to help boost my game, not even in my most desperate moment would I ever think about trying steroids just to get a leg up on the competition. The reason why is because I know what it does to the athlete and how it destroys the sports world, as well as the athlete’s body.
Steroids are a mixture of chemicals that are sometimes put together to make very complex, and potentially dangerous cocktails. What these ‘stacks’ of drugs are supposed to do is stimulate muscle growth and increase muscle strength (Pharmacology, Doping, and Sports pg 26). By taking these supplements, athletes are able to perform at a higher rate for a prolonged period of time without any immediate negative impact. And to the athletes that do not use steroids, this could really make the game unfair and could really have an effect upon the result of a game. This takes away from the ‘magic’ that sports have been able to produce. The big home run totals, the record breaking feats of strength and speed, or even the records accomplished by an entire team are now tarnished because one -or many- players decided to use steroids to get an advantage. And I can speak for all the athletes out there when I say that I play for the love of the game, and when people are taking the fun out of working hard to achieve victory by using steroids to get an immediate advantage, it really grinds my gears.
Also, many athletes who take steroids have not figured out the negative side effects that steroids can cause before it is too late. Some of these effects are more long term and do not appear until after a long period of usage, but some show up only after a short period of time. These short-term effects include non-harmful things like acne and breast development in men (Anabolic Steroid Abuse par 1). Others can end up endangering an athlete’s life by causing heart attacks and liver cancer (Anabolic Steroid Abuse par 1). Now, if that doesn’t sound scary, I don’t know what would scare people these days. So by looking at these adverse effects steroids can cause, I cannot tell why athletes would throw away a good, long sports career without any health issues in favor of a still potentially successful career, but with a side of liver cancer and controversy thrown into the mix. These are the things that many athletes don’t know about and they could end up paying the price.
And one professional athlete by the name of Dan Clark (a.k.a. Nitro from American Gladiator) shed some light on this topic by telling people what steroids did to his body. Some athletes are going to read this and say, “Oh, I’ll just do it in small amounts and steroids won’t bother me at all.” But, Clark put a rest to that theory by saying that it would not work because “as your body stops producing testosterone, you have to take more drugs. It’s an insidious cycle that doesn’t stop” (Steroid Questions for Nitro, American Gladiator par 5). What Clark was saying is that steroids are basically pure testosterone, which the body already makes naturally. And when extra testosterone is added to the body, the brain stops making it and that part of the brain shuts down. Which, in turn, forces the user to take more steroids to fulfill the body’s need for the chemical. I don’t know about anyone else, but that just sounds like a hassle to deal with.
Sure, now we know what exactly steroids do to the body and why it is an unfair advantage. But, where is the proof? Yeah athletes can use steroids, but how can we tell that there is actually any relavence to the question of steroids affecting and athletes performance? One writer by the name of Zachary Rhymer actually did some research on that topic. Rhymer went through the different ‘eras’ of baseball and compiled totals of home runs hit per game during those eras. He then compaired them to the number of home runs hit during the Steroid Era – which started around 1994 and was at it’s peak in 2004. The statistics showed that teams from before the Steroid Era were only hitting around 1.06 homers per game. But during the Steroid Era, teams knocked around 1.1 ball out of the park per game. And when compared to the number of games played per year, those numbers end up being very substantial.
The pages of the history of sports contains some of the greatest moments ever conjured in human existence. But, there will always be one little coffee stain on those pages due to the use of steroids in sports. There are, in fact, rules to help keep sports clean from steroids. Obviously as you could tell from the constant media coverage about players using performance enhancing drugs, as well as the information I have provided previously, that whatever the main rule makers are doing is definitely not working. Hopefully at some point in the near future there are better (more strict) rules to finally make the use of steroids a thing of the past.
“Anabolic Steroid Abuse.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. N.p., July 2001. Web. 1 Dec.
Fourcroy, Jean L. Pharmacology, Doping and Sports: A Scientific Guide for Athletes,
Coaches, Physicians, Scientists and Administrators. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis. 2008.
Web. 1 Dec. 2013.
Presto, Greg. “Steroid Questions for Nitro, American Gladiator.” Mens Health. N.p. 5 Oct.
2010. Web. 1 Dec. 2013.