Public Comment

“Who cares, really, if Lance Armstrong or Barry Bonds used steroids...?”

By Carol Denney
Thursday January 24, 2013 - 11:08:00 PM

I care. Not just because using steroids is illegal, and not just because it has serious health effects, and not just because its use contributes to kids’ and sports fans warped views about what healthy, well-trained athletes’ bodies look like and can do. 

A corrosive, corrupt culture that harbors rules that only apply to some people, or some sports, cannot simultaneously encourage honesty and integrity. Try to imagine how difficult it is for both professional and student athletes to play clean and value their own and others’ health in such circumstances. 

It doesn’t take a sports fan to see the difficulty for Hall of Fame voters attempting to honor both the older, steroid-free feats of strength, skill, and endurance, and try to accommodate new statistics seriously jaundiced by artificial, illegal substances which put the very concept of athletic health and excellence at risk. 

It is not hypocritical to view steroid use seriously in the light of, for instance, football and boxing’s contribution to athletes’ brain damage; rather, it is part of a culture evolving an effort to honor honest excellence and protect public health in the light of evidence unavailable only a few years ago. 

Such an evolution is not hypocritical. I do recommend “Game of Shadows” as only one of several books offering more nuance on the subject. Sports may have a show business element, but the health issues are very real.