Time for another report from the Wide, Wide, Wide, WILD World of Sports. Today's feature: Those bad boys of sports who are juiced up on steroids. Oh, the shame, cry editorialists and moralists, shrieking that the pro athletes who goose up their bodies with illicit anabolic steroids to enhance their power and performance are rank scoundrels who should be banned from the hallowed games of baseball, football or whatever. Even George W tried to ride the wave of moral indignation by calling for users to be punished.
The latest jolt of outrage comes with the publication of a tell-all book written by Jose Canseco, a former baseball star who admits to being "pumped on 'roids" -- and who asserts that 80 percent of big leaguers are, too. The sports establishment, of course, is attacking him like a pack of mad dogs.
Whether Canseco's confessional is true or an exaggeration, why would we be surprised, much less outraged, that ballplayers would go to extremes to make themselves play better? That same sports establishment constantly preaches to athletes (from grade school right on through their pro years) that winning is everything, that second place is just another term for "loser," that you have to give it your all and that you must be willing to "sacrifice" your body.
Athletes are richly rewarded for finding an "edge," doing what is necessary to get an advantage in order to "just win, baby." Team owners profit by having muscle-bound hunks who can pound home runs or run over opponents, and the entire locker room ethic is to use pills, machines, potions, voodoo or whatever -- just produce.
Notice also that these same owners don't give a damn about the players they've used up and cast aside to spend the rest of their shortened lifespans suffering chronic pain, memory loss and other nasty debilitations. The system can't use these people, then feign outrage that in attempting to excel they reached too far.
Publication date: 2/17/05