The Hydra Rears its Heads Yet Again - PED's in Sports
It hides in the shadows, in caves, in deep dark holes in in the earth. It exists in broad daylight and flourishes behind the scenes. It grows daily within the greed of the people who play Professional Sports. Occasionally some hero will attempt to slay it by cutting off one of its many heads, but always another grows in its stead thereby continuing its existence. Is there anything that can be done with the seemingly rampant use of PED's in sports today? Or are we relegated to watching greedy athletes who will do anything they can to succeed in their chosen sport today including cheating, lying,and causing potentially deadly damage to the very structures they are utilizing to perform their feats of athleticism - their bodies.
I fear it is the latter.
Have they learned nothing from Ken Caminiti? From Lyle Alzado? Both of these men were great athletes in their day. Neither needed the extra boost from PED's yet both took them. Both died young. And while neither death was directly related to Steroids, many feel that 'roids played a major part in their demise, including the men themselves.
What about the wrestler Chris Benoit? His rage knew no boundaries and led him to murder those closest to him including his own child before taking his life. What was one of the primary causes of his rage? Steroids.
Today, steroids are not the only drug of fashion; there are many other types and styles of PED's available to the athlete who chooses to use and abuse them. Designers drugs which attempt to hide the results from the tests do who knows what to the user, leading us to wait and wonder what will happen to those abusers in ten years; twenty. Who knows what will happen to them then. Cancer? Some other unknown malady we cannot even comprehend at this time? And yet they feel invincible to the effects, caring only for the here and now. Tomorrow? Who cares? It's all about me today. Let tomorrow take care of itself.
Those who are taking PED's fall into two categories: those trying to gain stardom and those trying to hang onto stardom. Regardless of the risks they still take the drugs, feeling exactly the same as an alcoholic or a druggie does. "I won't get caught. It won't hurt me. I can control it, it won't control me." Yeah, right.
Then they get caught. In baseball, on your first offense you lose 50 games, including pay. But if you are making millions, what's the loss of a million or two? They just live on the other two thirds of their salary and when they return from suspension they step right back into their place and start again. The second infraction is stiffer, 100 games. But even that is not sufficient to make them heed the warnings; they just think they will be smarter than the other crooks and not get caught again. Until they do. Arrogance, thy name is PED user.
Each time PED use rears its head, someone in authority cuts it off. Yet they refuse to cauterize the wound thereby halting the monster from growing another head. So no matter what the issue, the monster continues to thrive. The money, the greed, the arrogance of the athlete will always make it so. The greed of the owners will fund the drug users with their singular intent of winning at any cost because winning equals money and the owners want their money too. Just as much if not more than the players, greed plays an enormous part in the culture of cheating and abuse in the owners of the professional sports teams.
So how do you go about stopping the monster from growing more and more heads? Simple: if you get caught one time, you are banned for life. Period. All of the money you made in the sport is forfeit; your contract is forfeit; and you hit the streets to look for a job like the rest of us.
You get no second chance. You had your shot and you blew it. Tough.
Some may say to me: But you are being too harsh! This country is founded on second chances! Everybody deserves one! To which I respond: Why? Are these second chances making our country, our world any better? Really, is it better to know the underbelly of the sport will continue to thrive so long as they have second and third chances? Let's take it down a notch; how about the children of today? They know that they are in power and nothing we can do to them anymore halts them from doing things they know they shouldn't do, yet they know they will not be held accountable and will get another chance. So as a result there is not a respect, or fear if you choose to call it that, to do the right thing the first time out. Sam Walton had a saying, and I have heard it echoed a multitude of times in a multitude of manners: If we don't have time to do something right the first time then why do we have time to do it a second time? We have taught our children that it is acceptable to make mistakes, you will not be held accountable for them. You will get another chance. This may sound good in theory, this second chance issue, but how is it working in real life?
Many years ago I read a little story about golf and a mulligan. A mulligan is a second chance; a do over. If you hit a shot out of bounds, one cried "Mulligan!" and did it again. The story spoke of a what if scenario. What if you shot your best round ever, and you only achieved it by taking a mulligan? Would it diminish the accomplishment in your eyes? Or would you be okay with it? Golf is one of the few sports where a participant self reports on oneself, thereby getting a punishment. So if you cheated (read mulligan) you would know you achieved a status based upon a lie: you did not do it right the first time. I thought about it hard that day and have never used a mulligan since. When I shot my best score ever (76 for 18 holes) I knew I had earned it. No foot wedges, no second chances. I did it the old fashioned way: I earned it,
We are breeding a society of people who do not strive to do it right the first time because they will have multiple chances to succeed. So why not cut corners, cheat, abuse drugs? We still get a do-over, right? One of the things that drive me absolutely crazy is in our school systems today. Every class, from Kindergarten to High School allows "Extra Credit" when figuring grades. A student may take a test, and get a C or maybe a low B but when those "Extra Credit" points kick in all of a sudden they are at a high B or even an A! Why?!? If you don't study and earn the grade, you are cheating yourselves and the schools. It is fraud, pure and simple.
America was built on the backs of those who struggled and strove to do it right the first time, and by this second, third, fourth chance mentality we no longer even try to do it right the first time out anymore. At least, a large percentage of people don't.
This is how you become a second rate country. If you fail to do your best the first time out, you sell yourself out as a person. You become a never will be. You will not even become a has been; you will always be second class. That is what I see today: far too many athletes today as second class people who we as American's continue to hold in an exalted position as heroes, or someone to look up to. So long as we idolize them, or hold them in high esteem, or praise them for what they do then we feed their mania and they will continue to do whatever they can to remain in the limelight.
I am fed up with our country settling for these type of "heroes" in sports, in politics, in life. The ones who get out of bed every single day whether they feel ill or not and go to work to earn a living for their families should be the heroes. The people who have high morals and do it right just because it is the right thing to do should be the heroes. The ones who won't sell their souls for a vote, or a dollar or two, who refuse to bow to the pressure of "just go along with it; everybody does it" are the true heroes. Why do we not pay them the money paid to the drug users, drug peddlers, politicians who do not deserve it?
You tell me. I don't know.
For every athlete who is a liar, a drug abuser, a cheat there are many more who do it right yet do not get their chance because of those who cheat. For every politician who would like to get our country back on track by being honest there are a hundred who will blackball them into hiding or ostracize them and not allow them to make the changes required that would benefit millions of our countrymen.
The time has come. Our end is coming into sight as a "Super Power" in this world. We are becoming something our founding fathers never foresaw:
A nation of cheaters, liars, perhaps even fourth class citizens of the world.
I want to enjoy the games, I want to believe the players are playing with natural ability; but how am I to do it? Selig, enough with your saving the face of baseball, the time has come. Take the gloves off and make it a criminal offense to use performance enhancing drugs. No more second chances; if you cheat, you lose everything. Are these players really any better than Pete Rose? He bet on baseball, but he bet on his teams to win. These players today bet on themselves in the most selfish display of egotistical behavior ever witnessed. They care only about themselves and their money: not about their teammates, their teams, the game. It's all about them.
Go to hell, cheaters. You are destroying the purity of the game for the fans who actually have morals. In fact, this time you might have destroyed it for good. I hope you are proud of yourself.