The problem of steroid use has been a continuing issue for Major League Baseball since the mid 90’s and has become bigger than ever in recent years. With players like David Wells estimating that between 25 to 40 percent of MLB players are “juiced” or Jose Canseco stating that as many as 85 percent of MLB players use steroids, it’s apparent that it is time for something to be done. Using steroids is cheating, and with this many players cheating, one has to think that either the rules are not strict enough or the league owners just don’t care. The MLB needs to make a harsh change in the rules regarding steroid use.
The abundance of banned substances being used is embarrassing the sport, is making it extremely unfair for players who choose not to cheat, and is portraying the message that it is acceptable to break the rules. Currently, if a player fails a drug test for steroids use they are suspended for 50 games, 100 games, and a lifetime ban for first, second, and third offenses, respectively. Players who are given the lifetime ban are able to apply for reinstatement after two years. If Wells’ estimation is correct around 350 to 450 major leaguers are using steroids.
However, since most of the users go undetected or are not caught through failing a drug test, only a list of twenty-two players have been suspended throughout the league’s entire history, just to name a few: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Andy Petite, Miguel Tejada, Alex Rodriguez. These are some of baseball’s biggest stars over the last several years, all are steroid users, and none are on that list. With over a hundred more players accused of using steroids over the last decade and very few suspensions, the league needs to realize that their current steroid policy is not effective.
Not only does this amount of cheating, embarrass the league, it also makes it extremely unfair for players who are not using banned substances. Unfair because it is allowing cheaters to have an edge on the hard working athletes who train and practice to improve their game and unfair that these rule-obeying athletes have to deal with baseball’s new stereotype that the majority of players are taking steroids. After Alex Rodriguez, the latest and perhaps greatest player to admit to using steroids, players like David Ortiz have spoken out about their opinions of the league’s rules.
Ortiz suggests that every player should be tested three or four times a year, first offenders receiving a season’s ban and a lifetime ban on the second offense. I completely agree with this idea, as it will really help crack down on the cheaters and help clean the game up. There are hundreds of players breaking the rules and only a few of them are being punished. This leads into the final and most important supporting idea that the rules need to be harsher. With so many players accused of taking banned substances and so little of them punished, it shows that the league feels that cheating is acceptable.
President George W. Bush captured it best with his quote “The use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids in baseball is dangerous. It sends the wrong message that there are shortcuts to accomplishment and that performance is more important than character. ” The problem is that this dangerous message is not just being sent to the adult sports fans, it’s being sent to all of the fans. There are millions of children who idolize their favorite baseball players and dream of growing up to play major league baseball.
For every all-star player involved in steroid controversy, there’s hundreds of thousands of child fans who may see steroids as a way to make their dreams come true. Steroid use in baseball used to be the sports dirty little secret. Seeing statistics skyrocketing over the years, and witnessing average players become superstars almost overnight has made many people scratch their heads and wonder, is this all due to more practice or better training? Well, I can’t speak for the other players in the MLB, but in the case of A-Rod; the cats out of the bag, the secret is out and in public opinion.
After a Sports Illustrated reporter caught wind of A-Rods failed drug test; he was forced to come clean to the public before this news became an even bigger P. R. nightmare than it already was! There have been others who have come forward in the past to admit they did use steroids to enhance their game, but this admission of guilt for the majority of them did not come freely. Most of them were forced by similar circumstances as A-Rods. And they still have the audacity to say they are sorry, really? Are they sorry because they used and knew it was wrong or sorry because they got caught?
I would feel that their apologies were sincere had they come forward to apologize before being forced to. It seems that every time I turn on the television or open a news paper there is another one of my childhood role models admitting to steroid use. These are guys that many kids and adults alike look up to, and strive to be like! Some athletes may feel that they did not sign up to be a role model, and/or, mentor of any sort. To them I say; you shouldn’t have become a professional athlete! We are all human, weather you are a professional athletes, politicians, movie stars, rock stars, etc.
I get that. However, by virtue of their exposure to the masses, I feel that they have an inherent responsibility to do the “right” thing. Now, what is the right thing you may ask? In reading the assignment and the article provided, I understand the norms associated with his decisions, and understand how he believes ignorance was bliss, as the politicians would say “Plausible Deniability”. Alex knew what he was doing was wrong, but chose to do it based on the environment he was in, he cannot honestly believe young and dumb will work.
Alex Rodriguez knowingly took a performance enhancing drug, and kept it secret and then lied to the general public and his fan base. What Alex did cannot be excused, but at the same time, it cannot be condemned either. Alex was taking a drug sold over the counter, a drug which was not banned from the sport while he was taking it, and a drug which had proven to be affective. This assignment goes back to my beliefs about Tiger Woods, and the values associated with sports figures. Sports figures are paid athletes, not role models.
Although the MLB has taken big steps in recent years toward cleaning up the game, the rules still need to be harsher. If the owners really want the league to be completely free of steroids then they must change the rules further and finalize the process of removing steroids from baseball. Without harsher rules the league will continue to see these same problems that have embarrassed the sport for a decade, continue to have an unfair league for players following the rules, and most importantly, continue to send the dangerous message that playing well is more important than playing fair.
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