Put Athletes Back on Steroids

Is there a reason we care about athletes being on steroids? Obviously, concerns about kids emulating their favorite top-tier talents can be discussed. That said, what about from the standpoint of how it hurts the dignity or standards of whatever sport it is we’re watching — do we honestly care or do we care more about the idea of it?

It is a question worth asking. To me, it feels like we get more riled up over an arbitrary rule being broken than we do that a person is on steroids. A similar thing to how we view athletes getting suspended for getting caught with weed. We don’t actually care about the player’s health in regards to drug use. Nope. We pooh-pooh them for being “too dumb” or for choosing weed over money, which is actually almost never the case.

This is forever puzzling to me, though. Cheating by way of using drugs doesn’t add up in the same way as to how we view other “cheating” methods in sports.

As an example: Sign-stealing in baseball is somewhat accepted (as long as you don’t get caught), as is spitting on the baseball, slabbing tar on the bat, and a slew of other things that are against the sport’s rules. Yet no one is calling those guys any sort of horrible things. Those athletes aren’t viewed in nearly the same way as those who cheat using PEDs.

Maybe it is that drugs are viewed as a larger cheating crime than the other methods of getting an advantage. How we go about deciding which variations of cheating is worse than others forever confuses me, but there must be some reason.

Still, all are done to gain an advantage and tilt the playing fields, yet there’s rarely a 3,000 word think-piece on how one college university refusing to cut its grass before a big football game — in an attempt to slow its opponents down — is some sort of moral atrocity.

We sure as hell do that for PEDs, though. Oddly, unlike spitting on a baseball for extra movement, if we actually attempted to be more open to what PEDs can provide athletes, then we might be a little more okay with what they can do for our sporting heroes.

Most of this applies strictly to professional athletes, as the idea of muddling around the insides of an unpaid laborer feels as dirty as not paying them for their services, but isn’t the point of watching sports to be entertained? So why not let the entertainers be the very best — and healthiest — they can be? You know, so they can better entertain us.

Many athletes over the years have explained their PED use as a way to help expedite recovery time from injuries. While some of that may very well be bull shit, it isn’t totally false. And, even if a larger percentage of athletes are strictly taking it to be better at whatever it is they’re attempting to be better at, I don’t see an issue with it.

Here is the dilly: If some of the PEDs (SOME, not all) could be beneficial for our playing field warriors, and those warriors can remain without long term issues if used under medical supervision, wouldn’t this be the best thing for everyone involved?

I guess what I am asking is if we value the “integrity of sports” more than we do the health of those who play it… or something along those lines.

That’s it. That’s all I have on the matter. No giant hot-take or belittling of those on the opposite side of the opinion fence than mine. A simple question.

What is more important to us: The idea of whatever integrity the sport has — which has been embedded in our brain as being something of true value — or the health of fellow members of the human species?

Thing is, there’s never been honest integrity in sports. Romanticize them all we want, but we’ve had sporting leagues with histories riddled in segregation, owners laundering money, LEAGUES stealing money, and so on. There’s no integrity in any of the sports’ history. Only the idea of it.

Moreover, as we continue to pretend to buy in on the notion that sports is somehow different than businesses — ones that are often illegally ran and shady in practice — will forever baffle me. Why is the realm of sports treated like a children’s book full of the most simplified of stories? A landscape where we can paint villains and heroes so easily — all while avoiding as much context and nuance as possible.

Eh… I digress.

It doesn’t actually matter to me if athletes are using performance enhancing drugs. If it helps them feel better after hitting another human for three hours on a Sunday in the fall, I say go for it. As long as no one is growing a second head from his neck 40 years from now, and medical professionals can help prevent the athlete becoming addicted to them and no organ damage is projected, why not?

I mean, what’s the integrity in a sport that allows its athletes to leave it bruised, battered, and broken?

Guess that makes integrity a bit relative, but when weighing the options of people’s well-being in comparison to a merely sculpted idea of what a sport’s integrity is all about, I’ll forever side with the humans.

Well, as long as the science can back it all up.

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