Thursday, February 24, 2005

Steroids and the younger athlete

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.


ChefDunn said...

I went to a Catholic school in Watertown, MA. One of the things that amazed me was the amount of drug use (roids and others) that was occuring.

The high school football and baseball teams were riddled with users. It was never any secret either. Because it was a private school, I guess it flew under the radar and it seemed like the coaches just looked the other way. I played varsity basketball as a power forward since Freshmen year (I had a pretty good reverse lay-up). Many of the baseball and football players played basketball to keep in shape in the off season. In talking with many of them about the drug use often times the excuse was that "the pros do it" or "I want to get into a good college".

Pathetic. Of course, I ended up going to USM and many of them went to BC.

I also have to add that most of the kids were from pretty well-off famlies. They never had any trouble buying their juice.

Anonymous said...

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