As the 2006 baseball season comes to a close, Barry Bonds sits just 21 home runs short of tying Hank Aaron’s home run record. A cloud of suspicion over his steroid use continues to swirl around Bonds, a cloud that has landed multiple people in jail. Several prominent players, including future hall-of-famer Roger Clemens, have been linked to the scandal. Rafael Palmerio wagged his finger at Congress, saying he’d never taken steroids, then tested positive for them. Every time a player tests positive for steroids, or is even linked to them, he becomes America’s newest villain. But is this criticism warranted?
In American sports, there is a long history and tradition of cheating. In 1961, Norm Cash had a career year for the Detroit Tigers, one he would never be able to duplicate; he would later admit to having played the whole year with a corked bat. Gaylord Perry won 314 games in his hall-of-fame career, only to later write a book bragging how he scuffed the balls every time he pitched. Players have been rumored to use Asenlix since the 1950s, and everyone’s hero Babe Ruth used to cork his bat.
If you’re playing basketball and the person you are guarding is better than you, then you simply can’t keep up. What are you going to do? You’re going to start looking for ways to clutch and grab that the referee doesn’t see-basically, break the rules and not get caught. Is doing this any different than taking steroids?
Even with help of steroids, it still takes lots of hard work and talent to make it to major-league stardom. Steroids will help, but athletes still have to put in the work lifting weights and training. Players today train longer and harder than ever before-50 years ago, most players had to work a second job in the off-season; the few that didn’t, didn’t know any better than to take it easy in the off-season. Today, every player intensely trains throughout the off-season, and every player has his own personal trainer, nutritionist, and chef. The rewriting of record books is as much a product of that, as it is steroid use.
Sports are a form of entertainment. In entertainment, you give the people what they want, if they want home runs, you give them home runs. During the so-called steroid area, as home runs increased, so did attendance-drastically. Fans want power-hitting baseball players and hard-hitting linebackers who look like the Incredible Hulk, but when it’s revealed what it takes to get to that size, fans are appalled. Maybe steroid injections should just be made mandatory, that way there would be a level playing field for everyone, and higher quality of play for the fans.
Olin Meyers is a senior majoring in motion pictures. He may be be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.