Former NY Times writer Robert Lipsyte pens an LA Times opinion piece on steroids in sports and wonders what all of the angst is about, yet says that no one "under 21 should take steroids because of the unknown effect on developing bodies and brains."
The way I see it, we're all complicit in the superstars' need for the needle — we fans, coaches, parents, owners and media (I'm a recovering sportswriter myself). We demand that they attempt superhuman feats to thrill us, authenticate us, make us rich and proud — and they need superhuman help to satisfy us. (We also want our Whole Foods food before it rots, so long-haul truck drivers pop speed.) And we don't want to know about the process. When it's jammed in our faces, when athletes come up "dirty" in testing (or truck drivers jackknife on the interstate), we demand that they be punished and expurgated from our fantasies.And yet...
This pattern of denial and demonization is our problem, not theirs. Steroid use in sports is a symptom of our disease more than theirs, and a fascinating, if tinted, window on jock culture and its connection to the complicated, dangerous, exhilarating way manhood is measured in America, from the field house to the White House.
As the ideal of sportsmanship gave way to the tactics of gamesmanship, it seemed as though the win-at-all-costs virus infected professional athletics just as it infects all aspects of American life, including, most visibly, politics and big business. Or, as some sports apologists claimed, sports had fallen victim to the ills of the larger society.Wow, that's quite a rationalization. Okay for adults, but no one under 21 will be allowed to use steroids. Oh yeah, that'll really keep the kids from wanting to sample steroids! Great idea!
So why should we care what those players use as long as they entertain us?
As a tunnel-visioned sports fan, I don't. (Although as a father, grandfather and a shooter of steroids, I simply don't understand how we can make no national effort to screen the thousands of young, under-21 high school and college abusers.)