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The habit of steroid use among professional athletes is not uncommon in sports arena. Over the past decade, athletes have been charged with the use of performance enhancement drug namely the anabolic Steroid. The reputation of these athletes has been tarnished after they openly admitted to the allegations.
However, it is common knowledge that the use of performance enhancement drugs in competitive sports has been perceived with a lot of negativity (Frounfelter & Brandley 113).
Fans and other stakeholders in sports have unanimously agreed that using anabolic steroid, for instance, give users a competitive edge and hence provides uneven playing field for athletes who engage their physical strength during sports such as baseball.
The debate on steroids use in baseball gained popularity in 1991 when a ban was put in place. However, testing among the major league players did not start until in 2003. The results were heartbreaking as many players were confirmed to have used steroids at least once in their sporting activities (Miah 316).
Today, MLB is at crossroads of whether to carry out medical test on steroid use among baseball players due to the increase in franchises value derived from promotion of high performing players.
This essay explores the use of this enhancement drug as well as the actual and perceived economic results of steroid use. In addition, the economic cost of steroids to players is also analyzed.
Mass entertainment sports
The use of performance enhancing drugs can be viewed on the board of the rise and fall of mass-entertainment sports. According to Yesalis (112), the use of performance enhancement drugs can be traced back to ancient Roman and Olympic times. Players would use herbs and mushrooms for performance improvement.
This gave them a competitive edge in the game. The trend has not been consistent since the use of this drug diminished during the post-Roman and pre-Modern era only to be revived during the nineteenth century (Del Cid 180).
The rejuvenated use can be traced back to the role of the media in promoting sports as a form of entertainment. Media has promoted the use of performance enhancement drugs as successful players are glorified through numerous sponsorships which translates to appearance in highly paid adverts (Del Cid 182).
The media has also increased attendance to the matches which translates to higher income for the franchisee, players and their coaches (Del Cid 184).
The perceived economic value of steroid use has led the players to ignore the harmful effects of their actions. According to health experts, prolonged use of steroids can pose adverse effects to the user. Therefore, its usage should be prohibited at all costs.
Miah (318) observes that the harmful effects of steroid use can be analyzed both empirically and theoretically. From the empirical point of view, regular use of steroid is unhealthy but there is lack of clear explanation on whether these harmful effects occur when one participates in sports (Dec Cid 175).
If the use of steroids is permissible during recovery, why does the issue of harm arise when the same drug is used during sports participation? The claim based on harmful effects might be less supportive especially when we consider the harm that faces the baseball players in terms of injuries (Dec Cid 176).
Steroid use and the affected victims
Perhaps, it is vital to investigate who will be hurt when steroid is used to boost performance of an athlete, say in baseball. From the theoretical perspective, paternalism assumes that the steroid user is an adult capable of understanding the risks involved (Frounfelter & Brandley 125).
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On the same note, it is also worthy to consider an individual hit by a fastball when in a baseball pitch. The latter can be equally fatal although the fatality may not have a long term impact on the victim. Furthermore, the use of steroids has been opposed due to the indirect harm on non-users.
For instance, non-users may start using the harmful drug to keep up with the veteran users. The argument might seem plausible from a face value but not when we consider the risks involved in training so as to ‘keep up’ with the rest of the team.
All players have to undergo the rigorous physical training rest they fail to ‘keep up’. Sometimes, training sessions are risky but are not prohibited just like the use of steroids (Yesalis 23).
Test for steroids by MLB
Apart from the moral and ethical issues on steroids use, the questions on whether a player should use steroids or not can be analyzed in economic terms. Miah (308) explains that baseball players used steroids in hope of achieving utility.
This can be actual or perceived. The economic motivation behind steroids use is to build the body muscles and gain strength in order to increase productivity. In baseball sports, fans are always attracted to the player whose offensive is above average.
The fans might not care whether the prowess is enhanced by use of steroids (Miah 309). Offensive prowess derives positive economic benefit which translates to increased salary for the player.
By extension, the economic benefit can be translated to the increase in league franchise finances which has dramatically rose post-steroids era. MLB value has risen post-steroids era which poses the dilemma of whether to test for steroid use or not.
Economic punishment and benefits of steroids use
On the other hand, the positive economic benefit will also attract negative benefit because of the high price of steroids and the resultant cost of health related problems associated with steroids use (Rosen 706). In addition, steroids lower a players’ life expectancy which is considered to be a negative economic cost (Rosen 708).
The shortened lifespan will economically cost a player of his or her pension’s benefit which would have been earned in future (Rosen 709). Finally, the expected economic punishment will be perceived when the player is caught up with in terms of legal fees and loss of glory (Rosen 701).
This may also translate to economic loss incurred through hefty court fines and the tedious, time-consuming criminal justice process.
In summing up, the argument for and against the use of steroids in baseball sport depends on an individual’s point of view in regard to moral issues associated with using performance enhancement drugs. The debate raises issues based on the harmful effects associated with steroid.
It is upon a player to decide whether the actual or perceived benefits outweigh the associated economic cost. Medical scholars agree that steroid use medically harmful and should be prohibited to protect athletes. However, the paternalism theory assumes an adult should be left alone to make decisions about his /her own life.
Del Cid, Hector. “Winning at all costs: Can major league Baseball’s New Drug Policy Deter Kids from steroids and maintain integrity of the Game?” Sports Law journal 14.169. (2007): 170-193.
Frounfelter, Gregory & Brandley, Greg. “Ethical considerations regarding Anabolic- Androgenic Steroid Use: Emphasis on the Exercise Professional.” An international journal for exercise physiologists 3.12 (2000): 112-136.
Miah, Andy. “Rethinking Enhancement in Sport.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1093 (2006): 301–320.
Rosen, Sherwin. “Prizes and Incentives in Elimination Tournaments.” American Economic Review 76 (4), Sept. 1986, 701-715.
Yesalis, Charles. Anabolic steroids in sport and exercise: New York: CIP, 2000.