Steroids in Major League Baseball, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

The use of anabolic steroids among star-players in Major League Baseball is a scandal that most Americans are probably aware of, even if they are not particularly informed about the sport. Due to tact that so many of baseball’s recent celebrities and championship-caliber teams and players are suspected of being involved with the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs, the steroid scandal threatens to be the main idea associated with Major League Baseball in many people’s minds. This has resulted in not only in a rise in cynicism among sports journalist and devoted baseball fans, but in the erosion of the sport as a whole. The use of steroids is outlawed by baseball. Steroids are also known to have dangerous and sometimes permanent side-effects on individual players who use them. Additionally, although many medical experts continue to doubt the effectiveness of steroids in enhancing athletic performance, ample evidence exists to prove the drugs were widely used by baseball players, including players who set important performance records in official games while using illegal steroids.

One of the first things that stands out about the steroid scandal is that it includes so many of the “big” names in baseball.  Because of this, the issue has become world-wide news. As reported in an article in the London Mail, the Congressional inquiry into substance abuses in baseball returned a broad “roll call” of implicated names, including “89 former and current players […] accused of using anabolic steroids and Human Growth Hormone in order to enhance performance.” Included among the suspected players were “some of the biggest names in the sport, including pitching aces Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte and slugging stars Miguel Tejada and Barry Bonds” (“Who’s Next after Cheat” 82). The repercussions of cheating among  marquee players also meant that many important Major League  records were suspect right along with the players who held the records.

One of the first results of the scandal was that baseball fans began to hold the guilty players in contempt. Those who were guilty of using steroids or who were strongly suspected of using steroids were “treated as pariahs by large numbers of baseball fans.” (“Who’s Next after Cheat” 82). Due to the far-reaching impact of the scandal it is  not an exaggeration to say that the scandal has completely changed the way that the public views the sport of baseball. It is also fair to suggest that history may regard the “steroid” era as one of baseball’s lowest points. It is too early to determine whether or not the scandal will result in specific players or records being re-evaluated in terms of history. That is to say, whether or not specific records held by specific players will be regarded as having an “asterisk” beside them.

Even though records and players are important, the impact of steroid use extends well beyond these points. As Sowell points out in the article “Mlb Steroid Scandal: Say It Ain’t So” (2007), even though “people are questioning whether there should now be asterisks alongside the records of Barry Bonds or other star players, “the real problem with players using steroids is that “Steroids are dangerous and sometimes fatal […] many young people will imitate their sports heroes-and pay the price” (Sowell 16). The reality that the use of harmful steroids by multi-million dollar athletes will encourage young-people to also use steroids is something that causes many observers to suggest that Major League baseball holds a major responsibility to root out and eliminate the use of steroids.

For this reason, the controversy continues to boil: “Baseball players’ use of drugs of all kinds- from steroids to narcotics-continues to be as major a source of scandal” (Zoss, and Bowman 420). The power of the athelete-hero image is so strong as to cause a “ripple effect” among young people. Many experts belive that in addition to the influence of “peer pressure” to consume steroids, many young athletes face the task of competing against other players who are using performance enhancing steroids. This brings an additional level of temptation for the up-and-coming athlete. In many cases, the competition with other players is the initial reason for beginning steroid use; in other cases, athletes begin using steroids to recover from injuries.

The fact that steroids can, in fact, enhance performance in the sport of baseball is demonstrated by “Jose Canseco [who] became the first human in the major leagues ever to hit forty home runs and steal forty bases in one season.” It is for this reason that “Steroids [are] now known in baseball as a ‘Canseco shake'”  (Zoss, and Bowman 331.)  Right along with the discrediting of players’ accomplishments due to steroid abuse comes a basic distrust of MLB by fans as a whole. Even more disturbing is the previously mentioned influence that Major League baseball players may have on young athletes who aspire to play professional sports.

According to Roger Miller in his article “Athletes and Steroids: Playing a Deadly Game” (1987) the use of steroids by young people has a much-longer history than the MLB scandal itself. Miller writes that “anabolic steroids are widely used and abused by […] boys not yet in their teens; high school, college and professional athletes; and body builders of both sexes.” (Miller) The impact of steroid-use by professional athletes therefore extends far beyond the parameters of the official, big-money leagues. The use of steroids to gain a competitive edge is seen as a developing trend among young people in a varied number of sports and among both sexes and across a wide-spectrum of ages.

The detrimental impacts of steroid use are varied and serious in scope. Miller writes that “steroids can produce a host of side effects [including] liver cancer, cardiovascular problems, sterility, testicular atrophy, jaundice” (Miller). Exposure to deadly illnesses and bodily harm is only one consequence of steroid abuse. Other significant results of using steroids include: mood alteration, an increase in aggression, and changes in physical size. For young people, the risks are extraordinarily high and include a possible loss of life. The fact of the matter is that steroids are not only un-ethical, they are potentially fatal.   As an immoral and possibly deadly substance, they should be banned from all forms of athletic competition.. Unfortunately, despite the reality of steroid use in Major League baseball, many players continue to receive fame, money, and accolade, despite being self-admitted cheaters.

One very good example of this phenomenon is “Alex ‘ARod’ Rodriguez [who] tested positive for two anabolic steroids in 2003.” Despite his involvement with steroids, “A-Rod” continues to maintain celebrity status in America. Another high-profile player, Sammy Sosa, “was exposed by the New York Times as having failed a dope test” (“Who’s Next after Cheat” 82). The players involved with steroids in Major League baseball failed to come clean in full about their involvement, so the sport will continue to suffer under the strain of the scandal for many years, if not decades, to come.

Most fans of baseball probably feel as though they have been conned and also that the MLB regarded profits as being more important than the integrity of the sport. After-all, the home-run records and record-speed fast-balls attracted more viewers and fans, in the short term. These viewers and fans translated to profit for team-owners and MLB at large. the real cost came to average baseball fan who now and forever going forward must doubt the authenticity of not only baseball players but the league itself.  Of course, the most damaging outcome of the steroid scandal is that it helped to perpetuate the use of steroids by young people and basically helped to legitimize a culture of dishonesty in athletic competition. Many young athletes have died due to their use of anabolic steroids. Sports, as a whole, have suffered so that a small number of very corrupt individuals might profit and gain undeserved fame.

Works Cited

Miller, Roger W. “Athletes and Steroids: Playing a Deadly Game.” FDA Consumer Nov. 1987: 16+.

Sowell, Thomas. “Mlb Steroid Scandal: Say It Ain’t So.” Human Events 17 Dec. 2007: 16.

“Who’s Next after Cheat McGwire? Sosa Staying Quiet as Latest Steroid ‘Fess-Up Rocks Baseball.” The Mail on Sunday (London, England) 17 Jan. 2010: 82.

Zoss, Joel, and John Bowman. Diamonds in the Rough: The Untold History of Baseball. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2004.

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