Are We Conflicted About PED Use?

admin Last updated on: February 17, 2024

As a former educator in both K-8 and 9-12 environments, I can attest to the fact that kids absolutely look-up-to, emulate, imitate, and seek role-models from professional athletes. I’ve heard it in their conversations with each other, and with myself directly.

Now, some can say they shouldn’t. Some professional athletes have, perhaps grotesquely, disavowed ever wanting to be a “role model.”  But, it’s a fact – the kids (and some adults) do. I did. You did. Your friends did. Simply put, why shouldn’t we all? Isn’t that part of the mystique of professional sports? Without the idolization – the imitation of that star player or athlete, what would happen to the relentless dreams and desires of youthful athletic pursuit?

Face it, in many respects, it was that very individualized acclaim which drove many of us in our competitive sports endeavors as youngsters, or perhaps even now. Should our current generations be denied the same simply because many of us, now more mature and perhaps somewhat jaded in our decision-making, do not view some (note please, I said “some”) of these high-paid; body-guarded-for-their-own-good; several near or virtual criminal types in our pristine image of a “role model.”

Rafael Palmeiro
Photo Credit: AP

So, what do we do; how do WE react; and, how do our kids respond when ours / their “role model” athlete is accused of using PED’s? I can speak first-hand because, I had two role-model giants – and I wasn’t a kid at the time of the accusations. Nothing disappointed me more than coming to the realization that Barry Bonds, a guy I touted as one of the most consistent baseball players in my life-time in MLB, was “juicing.” Nothing angered me more than the brash, disgracefully dishonest denials of Rafael Palmeiro in front of a group of Congressional representatives in Washington, D.C.

As a former educator, I’m keenly astute to sports editorials and opinions which have reported that it’s an absolute certainty that PED’s have infiltrated NCAA sports and they’re now working their way down the ranks of high-school and even middle school sports.

There’s been a lot of PED talk in sports this week. Melky Cabrera; Bartolo Colon; and whether you believe there’s accuracy or not, a cloud of doubt continues to hang over seven-time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong as he has opted to end his near 15-year battle with the USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency). There were numerous international athletes banned from participating in the recent 2012 Olympics for failing PED tests.

The homerun-hitting battles of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa are long behind us now and, according to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, the “Steroid Era” ended a while ago. The sport is clean. Not so fast. The drugs may not be the same. The “cheating” may not be as obvious. The results seem to be identical and even more prolonged, and when people like ESPN Baseball-insider Buster Olney reports and makes a public statement that perhaps as many as 50% of MLB players are using some PED’s it made me stop in my tracks.

Here are my questions:

Is Lunesta a performance enhancement drug? Hey, I can’t get to sleep nightly. So, if I take this pill, I’m going to get up feeling refreshed and wonderful just like those folks I see every evening during my nightly MLB viewing, right? Seems to me, the pharmaceutical is designed to perform and enhance my sleeping ability.

Don’t tell me our young kids aren’t asking mom or dad what a male enhancement or erectile dysfunction drug is for – feels like we’ve been barraged with those over prime-time airwaves for what, at least ten years now. Seems to me that’s the ultimate performance enhancement. (I know folks who don’t have an issue but secure those illegally . . . what? . . . just because.)

And, what the hell is 5-Hour Energy Drink but performance enhancement in a bottle . . . and, can be used “safely” on a daily basis?

Let me be on record as testifying, I use no PED’s of any nature with the exception of an occasional vitamin supplement (which, by today’s standards, I better check to see is on an approved list if I care to participate in some officially registered sport prior to entrance).

I for one am glad that Melky Cabrera is “outta’ here” for a while. I like our sports clean and controversy free. “Performance enhancement” should come from the individual – not a substance and I want it exactly that way! But, how can we protect our kids from their use when we, ourselves are “role-modeling” the seemingly innocent PED of our day-to-day and they are exposed to nightly prime-time? We’re one conflicted group, folks!

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