Last night, when I came home from work, I found my brother watching the hearing on Steroids in baseball. The hearing had already been going on for something like 8 hours by the time I got to it, but I did see the last 3 hours and 16minutes and then some clips from the previous 8 hours and a commentary on ESPN.
Watching that hearing I was angered.
Being part of 2 cultures that idolize sport figures, particularly baseball players, I was embarrassed. Here are our “heroes”, those who one could argue should represent what’s good and wholesome in society, showing us that they are not heroes after all; that there might be nothing really extraordinary about them and that at the end of the day, they are just cheaters.
The baseball commissioner and all the other guys there representing major league baseball were also an embarrassment. The steroid policy they submitted after it was subpoenaed was a joke. Obviously, I didn’t read it, but the parts that were read were absolutely ridiculous. And I am not just saying that because I didn’t like them, but because they show just how elitist the system is. Their “policy” allows players to buy their public persona and just flat out go above the law. If the average person gets caught with a Class 3 substance they get thrown in jail; but if say Marc Maguire, who by the way refused to answer questions about his own steroid use, gets caught his punishment is a US$10,000 fine, which for most baseball players is simply pocket change.
Many of our heroes are cheaters and though they say aloud that they really feel bad for the families of the 3 kids who died as a result of steroid use, they don’t seem to understand that whether they like it or not, they are role models and that kids are dead because they make doing bad things, illegal things, seem okay. And what’s more, there are kids out there thinking that they need to do steroids to be the best athlete they can be and even to be able to ever be a MLB player.
But who is to blame??
After the hearing, my brother and I got into a very heated discussion about the situation. As a former athlete, he took the “I understand the problem, but I don’t think there should be a zero tolerance policy in HS and college sports” approach. My stand was that the fact of the matter is that if someone is getting credit for doing things for which they need illegal substances to do, and go above the law to do them, they are telling kids that doing these things is okay and they are contributing to the abuse of these dangerous drugs in the locker rooms.
I think that what’s to blame is the glorification of athletes in our society. I don’t care how good a baseball player is, the fact of the matter is that getting paid millions of dollars to hit a ball and run ten meters six months out of the year hardly makes sense when for example the average teacher makes less than $40,000. My brother says “but athletes are entertainers,” which they are, but they are not like actors, who for example make a living portraying somebody else and they can be crack heads and nobody cares. Athletes are entertainers who make a living by showing us what’s good and wholesome and fun. Hell, they provide standards of physical fitness and health.
I am saddened that such a cloud hovers over what is a most delightful part of our lives. I am saddened that our role models are not the kind of people we think they are or even should be. I am saddened that they don’t seem to understand what the problem is. Yet I am glad that action is being taken to ensure that in time the integrity of the game comes back and that we will all be treated equally under the law.