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“I Still Care,” says Mitch Rogers

January 25, 2013 Leave a comment

It seems to be a monthly occurrence that we hear the latest performance enhancing drug (PED) abuse story. The ongoing saga in sports continues with Lance Armstrong’s admission to doping after being stripped of all seven Tour de France titles. We also witnessed the Baseball Hall of Fame snub the likes of Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, and Sammy Sosa who are all allegedly key participants in the “Steroid Era” that forever will plague Major League Baseball.

While these stories are making national headlines and are covered by every major news outlet, sports or otherwise, the public seemingly has a “laissez-faire” attitude towards the subject of PED’s. This is in stark contrast to the perception we had over five years ago when we labeled them as cheaters and liars. This was best described when the great sports historian Frank Deford compared Olympic cheaters to terrorists in the late ‘80’s.

Looking back to my childhood I remember the first instance steroid abuse was introduced to my world of Transformers and G.I. Joes. The year was 1988 and was the first Olympic Games this 10 year old would remember. The headlining story going into the summer games in Seoul, Korea was Carl Lewis defending his gold medals and record breaking performances at the 1984 games in Los Angeles. The most popular and most important event to Lewis and the nation was the 100m race. I remember watching this race only to view a stunning upset by Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson over Lewis. As we know this result was as fake as the Canadian version of bacon. (It’s just ham!!!) Johnson tested positive for anabolic steroids and introduced us to the words Stanozolol and Winstrol.

The public sentiment mirrored that of the national media as we labeled all athletes that abuse steroids to be cheaters and liars, done deal.

Or so we thought…

ben-johnson-failed-a-steroid-test-at-the-olympics

What happens when the cheater isn’t a Canadian?

What if Florence Griffith Joyner tested positive at the same games where there was wide speculation she cheated?

Better yet; what happens when these abuses are rampant in the sports we see daily, not every four years?

In a sense Johnson ‘let the cat out of the bag’ as we saw a correlation to all major sports, especially college and pro football. Brian Bosworth became the poster-boy for anabolic steroids abuse as he was suspended in college and the NFL during his career. I still hold hopes that Bo Jackson ran up that center-field wall in Kansas City clean as a whistle.

What we saw when the NFL players started to be scrutinized is the first push back from the public and media that maybe steroids aren’t so bad when taken by grown men who are portraying gladiators on the field.

A few years later we were unknowingly witnessing the “Steroid Era” of baseball as we saw the likes of Brady Anderson eclipse the 50 homerun mark and Barry Bonds’ head swell up like a hot-air balloon. We saw the public grow furious as the national pastime was being corrupted from the minors to the majors. The outcry from the nation was unanimous as Congress became involved to stem this corruption from affecting the youth of our country.

big-head-barry-bonds-clear  Since then we have been inundated with countless confessions, positive tests, various “reports”, congressional mandates, etc… We have developed a punch drunk philosophy to these stories and they don’t resonate like before. We are losing our sensitivity to the severity of this epidemic in sports.

In a recent poll done by the Washington Post 47% responded to a poll asking if the use of PED’s bothers you by professional athletes with ‘Not much/ not at all.’

Half the nation doesn’t care if our athletes, who some kids idolize, are sticking syringes in their asses and blood doping!?

This is shown by the reaction to the Lance Armstrong confession with most being concerned with every other aspect of the story except for the PED usage. Don’t get me wrong the Livestrong angle and the fact he destroyed people’s lives are the major story lines, but, we can’t gloss over the admitted doping charges because we are sick of the story.

It is vital that we still care about our athletes cheating to gain an advantage. It cannot be lost on our children that working hard is the ONLY way to get ahead in life. It is irresponsible to brush this off with the “everybody’s doing it” argument that we have seen rise in the baseball community in regards to the “Steroids Era.”

My worry is we are raising the next generation to believe that cheating is acceptable and necessary to compete on the highest levels, and not just in sports.