The essence of all athletic competitions can be boiled down to the concept of performance and how much better one particular athlete is over another. Professional athletes do not enter into a competition with a nonchalant attitude of competing for fun rather they are “in it to win it” and as such train endlessly in order to reach the peak of their physical prowess.
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Their reward for winning such competitions can range from money, fame to everlasting glory in their chosen sport. Unfortunately, there are no rewards for the losers with society relegating them to the background as they celebrate the accomplishments of the winners. It is due to this that athletes try to accomplish any means possible to win with some of them choosing “shortcuts” in their attempt to achieve money, fame and glory.
One of the shortcuts comes in the form of using anabolic steroids in order to boost muscle performance in order to give them a certain edge over the competition. It has been proven through both clinical tests and actual usage in sporting competitions that the use of steroids significantly increases muscle density, strength, reduces recovery time and drastically increases an athlete’s stamina (Hassan, Salem & Sayed, 2009).
While their effectiveness has been proven time and again their usage in sporting competitions has been categorized as a form of cheating. Normal athletes cannot rival the performance of other athletes on steroids and as such it comes to a point that they either have to take steroids themselves or not compete at all. This creates a situation where it is not the best athlete that wins in a competition but rather which athlete has used steroids the most in order to win (Mannie, 2004).
Such activities can be considered a clear violation of the concept of fair play and is affront to spirit of competition. The general public has thus responded negatively to the use of steroids in sporting competitions since people do not patronize sports such as baseball, football or soccer in order to watch people cheat their way into victory rather they watch sporting events in order to see the clash of individuals striving to achieve victory through the power of effort, willpower and the spirit to succeed.
What must be understood is that the concept of a person being an athlete has a special meaning in society in that they represent what a person can achieve should they work hard, strive for success and never give up. Athletes have in effect become role models for many within society and as such news of prolific cheating by numerous athletes within sporting events is generally considered a form of betrayal over the image of integrity, willpower and perseverance that society has attached to them.
As such it comes as no surprise that the various steroid scandals that have rocked numerous sports over the past several years have detrimentally affected their fan bases and made fans that much more suspicious and hesitant over patronizing a particular team or athlete on the basis that they may be using steroids to cheat their way to victory.
It is based on this that the scope of this paper will entail an investigation into society’s reaction to the use of steroids and examines the negativity surrounding this particular form of controversial enhancement. Furthermore the goal of this paper will be an attempt to convince audiences that steroids should not be used for advancement in sports and that they are a bad influence on adolescents.
Comparing and Contrasting an Athlete’s Decision to Take Steroids and the Perception of Fans.
Decision for Taking Steroids
When trying to understand why an athlete would take steroids it must first be acknowledged that not all people are born equal. Some people have genetic predispositions towards athleticism which does give them a certain advantage over other athletes.
Another factor that should be taken into consideration is the fact that similar to any profession being an athlete requires a certain degree of performance above set standards in order to be acknowledged by the general public. It can be seen that athletes that rise above the norm often attain lucrative sponsorship agreements, team contracts and a plethora of other benefits befitting an athlete of their caliber.
On the other hand athletes that are sub-par or fail to distinguish themselves often fade into obscurity or are relegated to contracts and sponsorships that are barely within the range of the average median salary within the U.S. Not only that unlike other careers athletes only have a set period of time in order to stand out and distinguish themselves due to decreasing performance levels as they age.
Steroids give athletes the performance boost they need in order to win games, events or sporting competitions (Mannie, 2004). It enhances their stamina, gives them greater strength, speed and durability and even allows them to recover faster from injuries thus resulting in a performance level that is above the norm (Silvester, 2006). What must be understood is that modern day sporting competitions whether in baseball, football or basketball are all about a players stats and playing ability.
The value of athletes has been relegated to a set of numbers wherein the greater the number the higher their value is to a team or sponsors. This creates a behavioral predilection towards constant improvement towards perfection not for the sake of being more competitive but rather a desire to stay relevant in sporting events where superstars abound and talented rookies enter into the fray on an almost yearly basis.
Steroid Use among Athletes
In a way being an athlete is a race against time as they fight to stay relevant whiles their bodies age and their abilities whither. What must be understood is that steroid use helps to preserve and enhance existing skills beyond what people would normally be capable of doing.
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It acts as a method of increasing muscular density and stamina resulting in increased performance in even the oldest athletes (Silvester, 2006). One example of this can be seen in increased performance of Barry Bonds during the latter part of his career. What must be understood is that while Barry Bonds was an excellent baseball player in his youth however his performance started to decline during his early 30s.
Surprisingly though Bonds very noticeably began to bulk up and his performance greatly improved during his mid 30s to the point that he was noticeably better than he was during the earlier half of his career. As it turns out his improved physique and athletic prowess were not due to a strenuous workout regimen and diet as Bonds had stated but rather was entirely due to steroid use.
Other baseball athletes that exhibited greater athleticism during the latter part of their careers such as Sammy Sousa have also tested positive for steroid use and as such its use has become synonymous with “cheating the clock” so to speak wherein physical prowess and athletic performance is preserved or even drastically improved during the latter part of an athletes career.
It is due to this that athletes begin to turn towards steroid use in order to not be relegated into the background, to achieve their moment of fame, to preserve their athleticism when they’re well past their prime and to attain in their eyes their much deserved reward for striving so hard.
Perception of Steroid use by Fans and Athletes
On average fan perception regarding steroid use by athletes has been largely negative with most athletes that have proven records of steroid usage often losing a majority of their fans (Denham, 2000). As it was indicated earlier athletes are often used by society as role models for behavior and achievement. When such athletes cheat in order to win it is thought of as being the equivalent of spitting in the face of the people that believed in them for so long.
People want to believe that incredible feats of athleticism are possible through hard work and perseverance since for them it is a reflection of what they themselves might be capable of in their own lives albeit in a different way. It must be noted though that before they are found out athletes that use steroids often have a much larger fan base as compared to athletes that don’t use steroids.
This is due to the fact that their improved performance often makes them more prominent as compared to other athletes and as such become fan favorites. It is only when they are found out that their fan base rapidly erodes and such athletes are thought of in a negative light due to their use of unethical methods in order to boost their performance.
In general it can be seen that both in society and in the media athletes that use steroids are generally portrayed unfavorably due to them representing the “darker half” of sports (Denham, 2000). They are vilified, thought of as cheaters and sometimes even shunned for their actions and as such can be considered a warning to all athletes that even consider turning to steroids as a means of boosting their performance.
Adolescents and Steroids
What is the percentage of adolescent users?
An examination by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that within the U.S. alone nearly 500,000 teenagers are currently using steroids (Kuehn, 2009).
In fact it was noted by Kuehn (2009) that in 2005 there was a .7% increase in the amount of steroids utilized by boys in 10th grade as compared to the previous year which was at only 2% (Kuehn, 2009). What must be understood is that while 2.7% may seem like small number the fact remains that no teenager should be using steroids at all so even a .7% increase can be considered a large increase.
It as estimated that nearly 6.6% of all male high school seniors particularly those within athletic programs utilized steroids in order to gain a competitive edge (Kuehn, 2009). Further studies also revealed that there was also a certain degree of steroid use among the female athletes within various high schools but little data has been collected regarding this particular population base due to the fact that most studies focuses on male archetypes of steroid usage.
It is interesting to note though that there are no racial differences in steroid use with no specific racial group specifically utilizing steroids. What was seen though is that steroid use was often concentrated in various athletic departments and as such in order to examine the prevalence of steroid use in a particular school it is best to focus most of the examinations mainly on student athletes since they have a greater predilection towards its use.
What must be understood is that steroid usage has a specific risk factor for adolescents as compared to adults due to the fact that rising testosterone and sex hormone levels within the body are actually used as an inherent mechanism for triggering growth spurts during adolescence.
When these hormone levels reach a certain point they actually send a signal to a person’s bones to stop growing and unfortunately by utilizing anabolic steroids this causes the bones to stop growing prematurely for adolescents (Bahrke,Yesalis, Kopstein & Stephens, 2000).
This particular situation is also facilitated by other side effects of steroids such as increased aggression, the development of liver tumors, cholestatic jaundice and in some cases the development of blood filled cysts within the liver that have a tendency to rupture causing internal bleeding (Lumia & McGinnis, 2010)
Adolescents, Peer Pressure and their Emulation of Sports Icons
What must be understood when examining the current behavior of numerous young adolescents and their use of steroids is the fact that they believe steroids are an effective “shortcut” of enhancing their performance to the same degree as their sports heroes.
While it may be true that they acknowledge the fact that taking steroids is a form of cheating they still look at athletic greats such as Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Triple H and Batista who have all been confirmed as taking steroids and believe that despite the inherent risks involved the glory, money and fame that comes along with being an athletic superstar is well worth the risks involved in utilizing steroids (Feinberg, 2009).
Furthermore the persistent myth that “side effects only come through prolonged usage” convinces many student athletes that by taking steroids in limited amounts they can avoid the supposed side effects that come with steroid use.
Another factor that should be taken into consideration is peer pressure and how it at times forces people to take steroids even though they initially have no desire to. A student athletes’ worth is determine by their performance in their given sport and at times such students are pressured into taking steroids by their teammates in order to improve their performance and win championships.
Even though they don’t want to take steroids the pressure to perform and be part of the team often causes young athletes to take steroids which places them on the path for future health complications in the future.
Based on what has been presented in this paper so far it can be seen that steroid usage among athletes not only is a highly unethical method of competing within a sport but it also sends the wrong message to adolescents that all they need to do in order to become a sport’s superstar is to take steroids.
While it may be true that steroids do indeed boost athletic performance to considerable levels the fact remains that in the end if such athletes are found out they tarnish the reputations of the sport and ruin the sense of fair play and competition that is the basis for most sporting events.
Not only that the rising rates of adolescent steroid usage can be assumed as being directly connected to steroid usage within major sports as well and as such players that use steroids can be considered ethically liable for health conditions adolescents that take steroids will suffer since they act as their role models.
It is based on the findings of this paper that it can be stated that steroids should not be used for advancement in sports due to both the negative reputation it gives to certain sports and the fact that adolescents look up to their sport’s heroes as the basis for their own attitude in competitive events.
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