The United State is a country that thrives on competition. We idolize our sports stars and practically make major athletic events holidays. Children grow up with their favorite athletes plastered to the wall of their bedrooms and dream that one day they will be the next Barry Bonds, Shaqullie O'Neal, or Tom Brady. Professional athletes train year-round to be in ideal psychical shape in order to perform their best. But what happens when their best just isn't good enough? We expect our sports stars to be perfect, upstanding citizens and role models but this isn't always the case. The recent exposure of athletes using steroids has exploded into a phenomenon involving athletes all around the world. It has cheapened sports and cast doubt on the integrity of our athletes. Steroid use is not exclusive to professional sports. More and more college and high school athletes are beginning to use steroids for many of the same reasons that the pros do; to enhance performance, get an edge on the competition, and improve personal appearance.
Non-medical use of anabolic steroids is illegal and banned by most, if not all, professional, intercollegiate, and interscholastic sports organizations. No matter what justifications are given for using steroids, one cannot overlook the fact anabolic steroids can cause serious physical and psychological side effects. So what exactly is this substance that appears in the headlines of our newspaper's sport section? Anabolic steroids "are the synthetic derivatives of the naturally occurring male anabolic hormone testosterone" (Wadler 1). Testosterone's natural effects help a boy going through puberty grow hair, develop a deeper voice, and retain dietary protein, which aids in the development of muscles. Athletes take the drugs "to primarily increase muscle mass and strength" (Wadler 2). Steroids do not, however, improve agility, skill, or cardiovascular capacity. Steroids can be taken orally or they can be injected. Most recently, the steroid of choice has been the kind that is injected and is short-lasting and water-soluble. Many steroids that come in the oral form have proven to be hazardous to the liver, but as Dr. Wadler explains, "injectable steroids aren't free of side-effects either. There is no free ride and there is a price to be paid with either form." Some effects in men of frequent steroid use include; impotence, shrinking of the testicles, acne, rapid weight gain, liver damage, high cholesterol, and premature heart attacks and strokes. Even though there are so many known risks that go along with steroids, why do more and more athletes seem to be "roiding up"?
Many athletes feel like they have to take steroids to keep up with everyone else and be competitive. "If you don't, you weren't as strong as everyone else, you weren't as fast as everybody else," stated Jim Haslett in an interview with Sam Farmer of the LA Times. Haslett, now coach of the New Orleans Saints and former linebacker for the Buffalo Bills, goes on to say, "That's the only reason to do it. Everybody's looking for that competitive edge" (Farmer 1). Aside from professional sports, many high school and college athletes feel the pressure to take steroids to gain an edge. They feel like they won't be able to perform at the next level without steroids. All many young athlete have to do is look at today's sports stars to see the size, strength, and speed it takes to be a successful professional athlete. Unfortunately, most of the athletes that the young people are looking at have taken or are currently taking steroids. It is then only rational for kids to think that if they are going to be the best, they need steroids too. Only the best of the best in professional sports get the biggest contract, the top agent, the covers of the magazines, and, seemingly above all, the priciest paycheck. Many athletes feel like they can only lift so much and run so hard until they can't get any better. That's when some turn to steroids....
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