Take a moment and think about your life. Think about school. Ponder your job. Contemplate your potential career path. Even mull over your various personal relationships, romantic or not.
Now imagine what it would be like to be paid millions of dollars to do something you love – something in which you have excelled for as long as you can remember.
Welcome to the life of a professional athlete in the United States.
Some professional athletes live the life that many people dream of – they are paid to do what they love. They train all year to play a game for a living. Sure, they spend an awful lot of time on the road, but it seems like a great trade-off when you can retire before the age of forty. Life is grand.
Now envision how it would feel to grow up with these aspirations and possess the talent to actually make it, but with one thing missing. It’s tough to put your finger on it, but you just cannot make it over that final hump toward greatness. No matter how hard you work, you feel stuck.
You’ve made it to the professional ranks in your sport. You’re paid well, but not extravagantly, like some of your peers. You’re a bench player, a substitute. Someone to enter the game when the starter needs a rest.
After living almost your entire life as the star, you’re now relegated to the role of understudy. To an outsider, you have it made. But to you, it’s utter and complete failure.
One day a teammate shares a secret with you, perhaps giving you the business card of a personal trainer or physician who could help you get over that last hump toward athletic greatness.
You’ve been steered toward someone willing to offer you the benefits of performance-enhancing drugs. Possibly even full-blown anabolic steroids. You know it’s wrong and illegal. You know it would compromise everything you’ve worked so hard to attain. But still, you give it a shot. Can’t be that bad, right?
After a few weeks, you start to feel the effects. You’re faster. You’re stronger. You can jump higher. You are simply more productive when you enter the game. More playing time follows. You’ve even taken someone’s spot in the starting line-up. After the season, you’re offered a new contract, which is worth enough money to ensure the financial security of your great-grandchildren.
Sure, your hard work has paid off. But in the back of your mind, you know it never would have happened without steroids.
We have personal value systems in place that dictate how we feel about the different topics and issues that surround us. Performance-enhancing drugs are no different.
For the average person, the thought of taking performance-enhancing drugs is repulsive. But what if you could take a pill everyday that made you more efficient at your job? What if you could take an injection that made you read faster and improve your memory? Would being better at your job mean more financial security for you and your family? If the answer is affirmative, then you now have a glimpse of the decision that many professional athletes have to deal with today.
Steroids are illegal, unethical and dangerous. The allure of increased fame and fortune must be strong if it can counter the terrible effects of some performance-enhancing drugs. If these pressures did not exist, steroids may not present as substantial of a problem as they do in society today.
Like everyone else, professional athletes are a product of their environment. Perhaps instead of questioning the use of performance-enhancing drugs, we should be questioning the environment that shapes our views.
When fame and fortune overtakes self-preservation, something is wrong. The fantasy that many professional athletes call life clearly is tough to relate to. At the end of the day, we’re all human. When will we all be able to act like it?
The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.