Since the Jose Canseco interview on 60 Minutes about his steroid usage detailed in his recently released book, the topic has been all over sports call-in shows and bantered about by the hosts of these programs.
While there have been those who have unequivocally condemned Canseco and his condoning the usage of a banned and potentially hazardous substance, many have actually taken to defending this blight on baseball. Adding to the entire circus is the lack of accountability coming from athletes, afforded the privilege of million dollar salaries and national prominence. It's from that stage where professional players could begin sending a message that steroid usage isn't ok. Of course, that's not going to happen, so those covering sports should take the lead of ESPN and continue to call upon these role models (yes, they are role models--good or bad) to be accountable for their actions. It's also about time that major league baseball owners started exhibiting some courage and call for league-wide monitoring of the athletes, since they seem incapable of doing it themselves.
As I wrote in an earlier post, the biggest concern I have about the entire issue, is the message that it sends to high school and college athletes, seeking an advantage in their own sports performance.
As a father of a college athlete, as well as a coach of college players, I’m aware of the potential magnitude of widespread steroid usage moving into high school and as reported this morning on ESPN, middle school athletes.
While ESPN occasionally crosses the line in its self-promotion, they are one of the few sports media venues that are willing to address serious issues confronting the world of sports. This week, they’ve been running a series on steroid usage. It was obvious to me from watching this morning’s segment that steroid usage among amateur athletes has the potential to explode unless parent, coaches and other officials recognize the danger and become proactive in addressing the issue.
A parent who lost a son to steroid abuse, Don Hooten, has started a foundation that has as its goal, “to raise awareness among the general population of the United States about the dangers of steroid abuse for the purpose of minimizing the abuse of this drug by adolescents and young adults.”
I’d encourage all parents and coaches, as well as others connected with student-athletes, to begin educating themselves about steroids, the signs of usage and the potential harm they can cause. This issue is not going away soon, and responsible adults need to prepare ourselves to face up to the possible effects and consequences, rather than pretending they don’t exist.