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The Trinity Voice

The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School

The Trinity Voice

The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School

The Trinity Voice

CON: Cleaning Up the Competition

PEDs are destroying modern day sports
Graphic by Austin Yuan

   Sports are synonymous with three things: wins, losses, and drugs. What started with the ancient Greeks drinking what they thought were performance-enhancing potions to gain a step up in the Olympic Games has evolved into something used by the likes of baseball star Barry Bonds, cyclist Lance Armstrong and even amateur athletes. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 500,000 eighth and tenth-grade students now use these dangerous drugs, and over a million American adults use anabolic steroids per year.

Since so many athletes are already using Performance Enhancing Drugs, or PEDs, advocates for its legalization think permitting the substances will be net beneficial, but the problem is not so black and white.

The first problem with legalizing PEDs is, of course, the health risks. All drugs, including PEDs, have long-term, detrimental effects on a person’s physical and mental health.

According to a 2014 study on the consequences of PEDs in the National Library of Medicine, “PEDs have potential not only for direct medical consequences but also for exacerbating other conditions. [PEDs] may allow the athletes to engage in extremely intensive training exercises even in the face of previous injury, thus greatly increasing the risk of musculoskeletal injury.”

Not only are athletes risking their own careers, but the well-being of all their opponents. If steroids were legalized, athletes who would not have doped because of the health consequences will feel coerced into using illegal sub-stances to keep up with the competition. This could result in athletes slowly shortening their lifespan in order to stay at the new competitive level set by steroid users.

Proponents say that whether or not PEDs are legalized, athletes will still use them, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too. If athletes are legally allowed to take a certain amount of drugs, who is stopping them from taking even more? Legalization is antithetical to increased use because the perception of the consequences changes — nicotine empirically proves this.

   “Nicotine kills more people than alcohol and all illegal drugs,” said George Will of the Washington Post. “Even though the government heavily stigmatized [nicotine], 20 per-cent of Americans become addicted. Legalization would mean drugs break the stigma as drugs would be readily available and legal. There is no reason to think today’s levels of ad-diction are anywhere near the levels that would be reached under legalization.”

Contrary to the common belief, both nicotine and anabolic steroids are addictive, which is why nicotine is able to teach us a valuable lesson. If PEDs were legalized, the stigma of breaking the law would immediately disappear, which just opens the gates to even more unsafe use. It becomes an endless cycle of athletes taking more and more to try to stay ahead of the competition, where any regulation would be too little, too late.

Most importantly of all, the paradigm shift will affect the next generation the most. Kids will grow up idolizing athletes, buying their jerseys, putting a poster of them on their wall, emulating their heroes in every part of their daily lives. Until one day, they figure out that their icon is taking PEDs and is consequently experiencing professional success. Athletes have more of an impact than they may ever know, and kids are some of the most impressionable humans on the planet. If everyone else is doing drugs, why shouldn’t they?

   Finally, legalizing drugs ultimately destroys the true motive of playing and watching sports in the first place; because we love them. PEDs devalue the underlying meaning of sports be- cause instead of character, grit, skill and hard work driving an athlete; the athlete seems to be fake and only powered by an unnatural sub-stance. What once was a head-to-head mentality, where the only thing differentiating athletes from their opponents was their will to win, seemingly becomes a race to the bottom about who can juice the best.

At the end of the day, sports are entertainment, and they are entertaining because the outcome is unknown. Anyone can win, which intrigues viewers to watch and think to themselves about which team’s players really want it and which players don’t. When a viewer’s first thought is instead questioning whether or not an athlete has taken steroids, it becomes easy to start creating millions of excuses for that athlete’s success or the outcome of the contest, even if the steroids’ effect was minimal.

Take Barry Bonds for example. Seven-time MVP, single-season home run record holder, career home run king, all-time leader in both walks and intentional walks, and widely regarded as one of the top ten baseball players of all time. Yet 15 years after his retirement, he is still not in the hall of fame because of his PED usage.

As for us, we must make sure we are not encouraging bad behaviors. The entire reason sports are encouraged are for their health benefits, but that changes when you legalize steroids. No one should feel compelled to think that shortening their most precious gift is worth it for a game. We have a moral obligation to do whatever it takes in order to protect kids, protect athletes and protect the sport itself.

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About the Contributor
Sreekar Nagulapalli
Sreekar Nagulapalli, Business Manager
Rising senior Sreekar Nagulapalli is in the podcast department and is also the business manager. Whether in debate, or about who really is the GOAT (a.k.a. Lebron & Brady), he enjoys a good argument. Apart from his various academic pursuits, he loves listening to the GOAT of rap NAV, rapping himself and playing sports with friends. Contact him at [email protected].

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