There has been considerable controversy for years over steroid use in professional sports and the story has gained more traction recently over reported use in baseball.
I do agree with some in that there are more important stories for the media to be focused on. I mean, American Idol has started a new season. Just kidding, I think shows like American Idol are one of the reasons the US has turned into a mass of drooling idiots as evidenced by the election of, oops sorry, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, steroids.
There are clearly more important stories but that does not lessen the importance of this. The story goes beyond sports in that it is a test of our tolerance for cheating and the message we want to send our kids.
Too many times we hear stories of people that have cut corners to get ahead and we, collectively as a society, shrug our shoulders and say "everyone does it". Politicians, athletes, entertainers, and business people do what it takes to get ahead. I personally have more respect for someone who gets half-way to their dream doing it the right way than someone who succeeds with bodies scattered behind him.
More importantly is our children. What kind of message do they receive if we feel it is okay to cheat "a little bit" to get ahead? We are raising a generation of children that think cheating is okay. From the celebrities named above, to cheat codes for video games, to online term papers and test question answers. Some of these alone seem harmless but taken in aggregate they add up to sending the message to our children that cheating is harmless.
Then there is the steroid use itself. It has been argued that steroid use is harmless. This may eventually be proven to be true but my tendency is to be skeptical. We have not studied them enough and they have not been used long enough. We may find 30 or 40 years from now that these players see long term effects from them.
Further, it could be argued that the players make the decisions themselves and therefore have to live with the consequences. Fair enough. I still go back to our children though. There are documented cases of high school football players using steroids.
First, there is the health issue. Starting steroids in college could be dangerous. Starting them in high school when a child's body is still developing could be considerably more dangerous.
Second, how much pressure are we putting on our high school kids if they feel a need to do this? We need to leave high school sports as it is, a time for kids to build character, team skills, and create memories to last a lifetime.
Lastly we come back to the issue of cheating. Do we want to our kids to develop the habit of cheating to get ahead in high school?
So what does this all have to do with Hank Aaron (pictured above)?
Hank Aaron, as most people know, broke Babe Ruth's home run record on April 8, 1974. There is an interesting article on this classy man here. According to the article Aaron had a tough time of it in the early 70's. He was getting over 3,000 letters a day, most of it hate mail for being a black man breaking the white Ruth's record. He had to travel with Secret Service guards and stay in hotels away from the team for his safety as he neared the record.
I watched him hit his record breaking home run. Though I was not even remotely a Braves fan, it remains one of the most memorable moments in sports for me.
Now to the point of this post.
On Aug. 7, 2007 Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron's home run record. There are now allegations that Barry Bonds used steroids, something that has long been suspected. In light of these allegations Bud Selig, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, is threatening to strip Bonds of the record and restore it to Hank Aaron.
Hank Aaron worked hard and overcame significant barriers to earn his accomplishment. Barry Bonds, if the allegations are true, got his talent from a vial.
If it does come out that Barry Bonds used steroids, I believe Bud Selig needs to do the right thing and restore the record to the man who actually earned it, Hank Aaron.
Rest of story and photo credit here.