A-Roid

Steroids, baseball, whatever

A-Roid

I don’t know about you, but when I heard the news that Alex Rodriguez had taken performance enhancing drugs while playing for the Texas Rangers, my reactions was, “Who the #$%@ cares.” Honestly, does it come as a shock to anyone when a professional baseball player is busted for taking steroids? These are professional athletes, who are some of the most competitive people on earth and are getting paid millions of dollars to play a game. The stakes are high and the pressure is intense, so when someone offers them a drug or a cream that will give them an advantage can we really be shocked when they take it?

When A-Rod played for the Texas Rangers they never won anything. Nada! From 2001 to 2003 Alex Rodriguez had one of the richest contracts in baseball history and yet the Rangers never finished with a record higher than .500 and never finished better than fourth place in the American League West. He was arguably the best player in baseball playing for one of the worst teams in the league, so why else would he have taken steroids if for no other reason than to boost his own stats? He can cry on TV and apologize all he wants, but the bottom line is that he cheated and as far as I’m concerned he is no different than Barry Bonds. Both players still belong in the Hall of Fame beyond a doubt, but from here on out every single record they break and every honor that they earn should come with an asterisk that says that they cheated.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to climb off my high horse and present a question that keeps me up at night. What happens when science catches up with performance enhancing drugs and scientists finally unveil a steroid that doesn’t have harmful side effects? Granted the fact that it makes your balls shrivel and gives you back acne is enough to keep me from ever using steroids, but then again if someone offered me a $152 million contract to play baseball I might reconsider. Seriously, what is going to happen when the day comes and a safe steroid is put on the open market? Will professional sports make them legal? Does the asterisk next to Barry Bonds home run record come off the books? And most importantly what in the hell will Bryant Gumbel talk about on HBO’s Real Sports?

The simple answer to the steroids problem is stricter drug testing throughout the world of sports, but with stricter testing comes the realization that Alex Rodriguez won’t be the last superstar to get busted. What is going to happen to sports when all of our sports heroes start getting outed as cheaters? Who is going to want to pay $200 to take their kids to a game when they know that their team’s all-pro linebacker has taken performance enhancing drugs? Are these the people that we want our kids looking up to? It’s a monster that is not going to be easily stopped, and what’s worse is that it's a monster that the fans helped create with our high expectations and heavy criticism of professional athletes.

The truth is that when it comes to steroids there are no easy answers. We want our athletes to be superstars with no weaknesses, immune to pain and perfect in every way. We don’t want them to be greedy millionaires, who are willing to cheat to get to the top. Somewhere in between there has to be a happy medium, where athletes do their best without performance enhancing drugs and fans just accept the fact that the players on the field are human, just like them. Of course, we all know that’s a bunch of crap and that as long as athletes are being paid millions of dollars to play a game that they will look for any advantage they can get and that fans will consider anything less than a championship a failure. It’s sad, but it’s the reality of sports. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and spike my nieces apple juice with caffeine so that she can dominate in her 4-and-under soccer game.

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