Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rant: cheating among athletes

Okay, so Mark McGwire "came clean" and admitted what we already knew. He used steroids when he played baseball. You could say that he doesn't deserve to be slammed by the media because he is otherwise a law abiding citizen. A murderer or a rapist may not even make the news and yes his wrongs are infinitely worse than someone who simply cheats in professional sports and doesn't harm anyone thus we should not so hard on him. That's certainly a valid point but it's the price you pay for living in celeb obsessed culture. As for McGwire, I will not attack him too hard personally but I do want to address an attitude that I find disturbing not just among athletes caught cheating but society as a whole.
As a quick clarification, some people say steroids were not banned by MLB at the time. That's not true. Commissioner Fay Vincent imposed a ban on steroid use way back in 1991. It was simply not enforced for more than a decade.
My problem is with people who may apologize then proceed to make excuses for their bad behavior or simply say "I made a mistake." First, a mistake is a one time indiscretion not a lifestyle pattern over a period of a whole decade. My father told me a story of someone in the Army who got busted for something and he told the Sergeant: "Sir, I done wrong. I know I done wrong and I can't undo the wrong that I done." Aside from the poor grammar, an attitude like that will earn my respect. For the record, he received no punishment from the Sergeant. McGwire says that he used steroids primarily to recover more quickly from injuries and that he had good years in which he did not use at all. He also said that he didn't feel like he was cheating and could have hit 70 home runs clean. It's a lame excuse and I don't buy it. I believe that he used for most of his career and the times in which he was clean were the exception rather than the rule. McGwire played through 2001 and claimed that he stopped steroids after 1999 yet he looked just as big back in'01 as when he broke the record in 1998 and it was not until he retired that his body shape changed so drastically. Some of them say that they didn't know that what they took was steroids. If you buy that, I've got some beachfront property in North Dakota that I will sell you at a discount price. I've taken some powerful supplements (all legal) and in many cases, felt the effects within hours. These anabolic steroids are MUCH more powerful than anything I have taken. Don't insult my intelligence by saying that you didn't know or didn't gain any benefit from it especially being athletes so well in tuned with their bodies.
If an athlete had simply that yes, he used steroids and the reason was to gain the edge on the competition, make more money and more fame then admitted that he was terribly wrong and nothing excuses it. That's a respectable answer yet nobody will come out and say that. McGwire is not going to make the Hall of Fame and nor will anyone else linked to steroid use. Let's say that a teacher catches a student cheating. Does he or she say that the student would have passed without cheating and give him/her a "C" No, the cheater gets an "F," a zero to be exact. That's how many home runs these cheaters have honestly.
Track and field athletes are not much better. I once read an anonymous survey of 2 questions. 1.) Would you take steroids if there was an absolute guarantee that you would never be caught? 2.) If taking a pill would guarantee that you would win every competition for 5 years then kill you soon after that period, would you do it?
Sadly, a significant percentage answered yes to both of those questions.
As for #1, that really underscores just how little integrity is valued and the moral bankruptcy in our society. As for #2, it saddens me more than anyone else. 5 years out of 80 is only 1/16 of your life and for someone to have priorities that far out of whack is almost incomprehensible. I am a Christian and try to focus on an eternal perspective. I am not going to minimize the here and now but to take it to that extreme blows my mind and I cannot even think of the right words to explain just wrong it is to essentially kill yourself in order to cheat to victory. Sickening! That's all I've got to say.

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