Sunday, February 20, 2005


For some time now, steroid use in sports has been making the news. Even more so now, with Jose Canseco's statements that he and many other players used steroids. For the last several weeks, sports writers, team owners, politicians, etc. have been chiming in, condemning the practice and calling for (you guessed it) more rules, reform, laws, etc.

I for one have had enough.

I really don't care what Canseco or Sosa or Giambi or Bonds does to themselves. If they took steroids, fine with me. They are big boys (pun intended) and own their own bodies.

Our sports media seem to be under the impression that if one takes a steroid injection, then presto change-o, big beefy muscles just bust out all over, like David Banner turning into the Hulk. I've got news for all our so-called sports journalists. Steroids don't work that way. You still have to exercise, you still have to lift weights, you still have to hit the machines, etc. Otherwise the injection is all but useless.

Steroids work to help the muscles to repair themselves faster than the muscles would otherwise after a workout. Steroids don't make you stronger, they enable you to build muscles more quickly and efficiently and make it easier to maintain those bigger muscles once you've attained them. Seems to me this is a good thing for a busy athelete on the go with work, personal appearances, and family to attend to.

This whole brouhaha over steroids is just a continuation of our current national insanity known as the War on Drugs. I'll be writing more on that subject in other posts to this blog.

For the league to come down on steroid use is a bit hypocritical in my mind. No doubt many insiders in the league looked the other way on steroid use as fans flocked to the ballpark and TV sets to watch the likes of McGwire and Sosa chase Roger Maris' single season home run record of 61 dingers. They've benefitted from Bonds incredible achievements over the last several seasons. They've known (or at least suspected) all along but didn't care because these sluggers helped their bottom lines. But now that it is out in the open due to leaked grand jury proceedings and Canseco's allegations, the league is compelled to tout the standard War on Drugs bromides -- drugs are bad, and steroids are a drug, and therefore they are bad, etc..........

As for the media, well they thrive on controversy.

Some of the sports commentators are all aghast because they see steroid use de-legitimizing the accomplishments of these atheletes alledged to have use steroids. They point to the achievements of the likes of Mays, Mantle and Aaron and say that their status and records are being eclipsed by undeserving heirs using steroids.

Let me point out a couple of things. First, the steroids don't help you hit the ball. As I said earlier, they aid in muscle development, nothing else. The muscling up seen in these players could be acheived without steroid use. We should ignore the accomplishments of these atheletes because they may have muscled up more quickly and easily using steroids?

Secondly, the conventional wisdom in baseball used to be that big muscles were a hindrance to a players swing. The ideal prototype a couple of generations ago were players like Musial, DiMaggio, and Williams, all long, lean, lanky players. Conventional wisdom also used to think that to hit a ball a long way, one needed to use a heavier bat. No one considered that bat speed was important to generating power at the plate. If players of yesterday had known how important bat speed was to generating power at the plate, they might have been muscling up back in the 1940's and since. They might have been using lighter bats but they didn't because they didn't know better. It seems to me that we are wanting to penalize modern players because sports medicine and sports physics have surpassed the knowledge of years past.

Of course critics of steroid use will say that steroid use is too risky. Is it? I won't opine on that here, but instead refer you to this article from Reason. Read it if you dare.


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