Major League Baseball
Enough with the fake steroid outrage
Major League Baseball

Enough with the fake steroid outrage

Published Aug. 29, 2012 1:00 a.m. ET

We love fake. Facebook “friends,” Twinkies and double Ds not endowed by our creator.

We love enhanced. Plump chicken breasts and airbrushed photos.

We love short cuts. Weight-loss surgery, no-fault divorce and CliffsNotes.

We love lies, too. Living in houses we cannot afford, living with debt we cannot handle and arguing — not unlike, say, Brady Anderson — this is all a result of hard work.


So where exactly does the moral authority to sermonize on the horror that is steroids in sports come from? I played that game for a while, tearing into Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds as scoundrels. What I finally realized is steroids outrage is pious fraud. And it is time to say to hell with all of that.

What I dare to suggest is a war on the war on steroids. Because this fake moral outrage about the “disgraceful state of competitive sports nowadays” that serves as a running dialogue every time an athlete is busted for steroids is just about played out. The fact is almost every single argument against performance-enhancing drugs falters when viewed in light of how we live the rest of our lives.

Think of the kids.

It is cheating the game.

Oh my, the health risks.

Why do we pretend Bonds doing steroids endangers the health of kids, yet pumping them full of all kinds of pharmacological remedies does not? Why is Melky Cabrera cheating the game and the guy selling subprime mortgages while also wagering on them to fail on Wall Street is just playing it? Why is Lance Armstrong “awful” for allegedly risking his post-cancer health to win Tour de France titles while our willful acceptance of the side effects of all those erectile dysfunction cures recited to us during every sporting broadcast is not?

They may be cheats. But we are hypocrites.

And before any of us — journalist, fan, random observer — drop another breathy opinion about the evils of PEDs and pro athletics, we’d be wise to clean up our own houses. Because all this really does is reveal how willfully ignorant we have become of all the PEDs in our own lives. There are so many examples of our love of short cuts, fakes and lies that I had trouble limiting my examples. And when stacked with them, our arguments against steroids look weak.

The first argument is always steroids are dangerous to your health. I am not arguing this is not true. The science may not be perfect or in total agreement, but there is certainly enough evidence connecting PED use to enlarged hearts and shrunken man parts and depression, especially in kids, to suggest making a pro-steroid argument to be folly.

We also do not know the long-term impact of reducing our stomachs to the size of our thumb — yet we do so.

We are the test generation on aspartame, Fast Food Nation and Prozac, yet we are acting like what we have seen in sports marks some death of innocence. Hell, an increasing line of dead players suggests the playing of football itself may be more dangerous than any of the steroids these players put in their bodies to be good at it.

Another argument, of course, is about how unfair it is to players who do not want to use steroids and to players from previous generations whose records are falling to guys jacked up on things that were not even invented when they played. It is this idea that players will be forced to take steroids or lose jobs, contracts, etc. to those who do.

This is true much in the way it is true in Hollywood that say, Megan Fox, may be able to land more roles early than peers because of enhancements. Yet when is the last time you heard somebody reference the “disgraceful state of movies” because Fox may have used AES (appearance-enhancing surgery)? For that matter, I have never heard a single guy call for an actress to be suspended for AESs or threaten to stop buying Maxim.

And let’s not pretend that AESs are any less dangerous than PEDs or send any worse of a message to young girls who are literally starving to look like what they see in magazines, or turning to AESs to fix themselves at younger and younger ages.

Where are the Congressional hearings on this? Why isn’t the House dragging in Hollywood stars and demanding under-oath confessions about what they did to stay at the top of their game?

And what exactly is the line that divides what is performance-enhancing and what is just using science to improve what you already have? Lasik, anybody? Who draws the line? What I know for sure is the little sucker will continually be moving.

This is not an argument for steroids as much as a call to end the hypocrisy.

We live in a pharmacological society. We live in a society of short cuts, of fake this and enhanced that, and somehow we keep trying to sell the line that sports has become this evil empire of cheating. The reality is athletes are merely doing what so many of us do and celebrate and watch every single day of our lives.

The reality is we are all using PEDs of some sort, or at the very least celebrating those who do. So what if Barry and Lance and Melky and everybody else do too?

Because, really, what is a little cheating to a hypocrite?


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