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A Clean Conscience Over Artificial Success?: The Steroid Sublimination.

February 7, 2010 4 comments

 

With Mark McGwire’s recent tearful admission of steroid use throughout his baseball career after plenty of speculation, we’ve all gone and (rightfully so) pointed our fingers, called McGwire and other players who have admitted (or that we speculate) taking performance enhancing drugs, as cheaters; tarnishing world class baseball, and to an extent, world class athletics and their athletes in the process.

Now lets get one thing straight before we go any further; these guys are cheaters.  But that’s not the major point I’d like to discuss.

Before we factor in the advantage of performance enhancing drugs, can we at least admit that these athletes are simply talented individuals, gifted in their field?  McGwire made some good, or at least arguable, points throughout his admission interview.  When Bob Costas asked him if he believes he could have hit the record breaking 70 homeruns, or his 600 career homeruns, without the assistance of drugs, McGwire replied,

You mean, it wasn't the milk afterall?

Absolutely. I was given this gift by the man upstairs; to hit home runs.  I started studied pitchers. I started understanding how they try to get you out. During that, my swing was changing. I started off as a raw kid, who had the ability to hit from the back leg and hit wall-scrapping home runs. Over the years, as you saw, my swing became shorter and shorter, and I learned how to hit through the baseball…  The only reason I took steroids was for my health purposes. I did not take steroids to get any gain for any strength purposes… I’ve always had bat speed. I just learned how to shorten my bat speed. I learned how to be a better hitter. There is not a pill or an injection that is going to give me the hand-eye – or give any athlete – the hand-eye coordination to hit a baseball. A pill or an injection will not hit a baseball… As I look back now I can see why people would say [that I cheated]. As far as the God-given talent and hand-eye coordination and the genetics I was given, I don’t see it [as cheating]… I look at my swing and look at how it evolved over time.  That’s from a lot of hard work. That’s from many, many hours of hitting off the tee. I was the first one to the ballpark and the last one to leave… I just believed in my ability and my hand-eye coordination. And I believed in the strength of my mind. My mind was so strong, and I developed that on my own. No pill or no injection is going to do that.”

Former McGwire teammate, Jose Canseco, recently spoke via Twitter on the admission interview.  Though he claimed McGwire hadn’t been entirely truthful about what he said, he did make some agreeable sentiments, saying,

“Bat speed, timing, hand eye coordination, balance…. you either have it or you don’t.  Talent and hard work are key components to success as a professional athlete. Steroids do help, but you have to have the foundation.”

A 2008 documentary entitled  “Bigger, Stronger, Faster*” made some interesting points that many people may not know; such as Tiger Woods’ laser eye correction to 20/15 vision, which gives him an very unfair advantage over his competitors.  Of course, he’s really good at golf for a lot of good reasons, but this seems like an unnecessary loophole, doesn’t it?  Does he need to be talented, and have the ability to see the cup from the tee box 500 yards away?

I really believe that the best players in sports are simply better than the rest of the people on the planet at what they do.  On a level playing field, not a lot of people would be anywhere close to as good at baseball as McGwire, or as Woods in golf, or any other celebrated athlete.  Those guys are just better than you.  The players I feel bad for are the ones with that raw talent who stayed clean through their careers but were only potential major league fringe players at best, but get beat out by another player of the same talent level that didn’t stay clean, and had to watch a cheater fulfill his dream instead of him.  At least those guys will have marbles for nuts in the end.

But beyond pro sports, some people use drugs called Beta Blockers, like Propranolol, to avoid stage fright, tremor, performance anxiety, panic, pounding heart, cold/clammy hands, increased respiration, sweating, and other conditions that could cause less than optimal performance.

Many professional musicians use these anxiety reducing drugs to calm nerves and increase focus prior to performances.   So next time you’re auditioning for a spot in a band, and that guy who was no good last month suddenly gets awesome at his instrument and beats you out for a spot and becomes a big rock star while you stay home playing Guitar Hero, maybe there’s more to it?

Even students use them to improve test, homework, and school scores.  Wouldn’t you hate to think that someone got the last spot into a prestigious school, or won some sort of competition over you because they were on something, and you weren’t?

Some doctors and surgeons use the same stuff before performing procedures.  Wouldn’t you want your doctor at the top of his or her game before opening you up and playing with your life?

So the question is, are these people cheating too?  If we shine the spotlight so prominently on baseball players, pro wrestlers, bodybuilders, and other professional athletes; should we not hold people competing in entirely different fields of play accountable as well?  Where should the line be drawn?  Why can Arnold Schwarzenegger do steroids, gain fame, become a movie star, and eventually a governor; why can Sylvester Stallone beef up with HGH for the latest Rocky installment, be a hero and make a ton of money; why can countless other people in other professions put these same substances in themselves without a word of objection from anywhere, but as soon as Bonds or Sosa hit an absurd amount of homeruns, all of a sudden their reputation is tarnished forever and everything they do gets an * beside it?  Both sides are putting on a show to “set an example for the kids”, but isn’t it interesting which people become the bad guys and which carry on as they were when the truth comes out?

 

Tsk Tsk, Tiger: Golf’s Good Guy Finally Misses The “Clean” Cut.

December 2, 2009 3 comments

Aside from Mr.Clean, no one had less dirt on them than Tiger Woods, until now. 

He’s the best golfer on the planet, and one of its (if not, the) highest paid athletes. 14 major golf championships, 71 PGA Tour events, more career major wins and career PGA Tour wins than any other active golfer, and PGA Player of the Year a record ten times. He’s held the position of “World Ranked #1” for the most consecutive weeks and for the greatest total number of weeks. He’s received uncountable other media adorned accolades, and is generally credited for increasing the global popularity of golf. He also founded and participates in numerous charitable organizations and events to benefit children, married a model, and even wrote a book called “How I Play Golf” to give bad aspiring golfers false hope of being as good as he is. Good dude, right?

Michael Jordan had his gambling. Wayne Gretzky had his (alleged) tie to a gambling ring. Now, Tiger Woods joins the world’s elite in another category: Sports’ most dominant athletes that have an actual or alleged character tarnishing event attached to them [note: Jordan’s the only non-“alleged” of the group].

Before recent events, all the media had on Tiger was a slump in 2003-04, and a little bit of course rage. The staff of TMZ and The National Enquirer must have made a(nother) deal with the Devil, because they got an “Cablinasian” Smorgasbord of a story dumped straight on their plates. Dinner’s served, media outlets and gossip-hounds; dig in.

Tiger had been as “squeaky clean” as those high-beam pearly whites of his. That is, until he soberly left his home at 2:30 am one morning, crashed his Escalade into a fire-hydrant, and then a tree at a speed too low to inflate the airbags, but high enough to cause himself bodily harm (quote from his website “I have some cuts, bruising, and right now I’m pretty sore”); to the affect that his wife had to smash his windshield with a golf club to get him out, and to force him to withdraw from his own upcoming tournament, citing the afore mentioned injuries. Oh, and he had allegedly been having an affair with one, maybe two, or maybe three women that aren’t his wife. Oh, and one of them has evidence to prove it.

Tiger says his wife acted “courageously,” as she rescued him, but I gotta wonder, at that speed, could the vehicle’s damage been so bad that just opening one of the multiple entry points by the handle was out of the question? Smashing the window? Did she drag him out through the shattered glass, sling him over her shoulder, and narrowly escape a fiery explosion as well? You can’t spell “courageously” without “rage”, after all (no domestic violence charges were laid).

Alright TMZ, we get it, you took the pics. All the doors still seem accessible, don't they? How do you put your car horizontal on a driveway sober, anyways?

And the jokes, oh the jokes. “The Driver lets Tiger down, yet again”, “I finally outdrove Tiger”, and the likes will probably haunt Woods for… ever.

In addition to the estimated $8000 to fix his truck, local police have issued Tiger a fine of a whopping $164 (yes, that figure is only 3 digits long, no zeroes attached) for careless driving, and some points on his license. Way to go cops, surely he’s learned his lesson now.  Way to show him he’s not above the law.  

We couldn’t have just let him be really good at golf, and let him get away with appearing to be an overall quality human being, could we? We love our heroes when they’re doing great and historic things on the playing field; but when they do something of the equal opposite in life, we love to read the stories and watch the news reports that have been milked by reporters, and hang them out to dry like we knew it all along, don’t we?

Is this even a story if it happens to any non-celebrity? Minor traffic violations? Extra-marital affair accusations? Yeah, those never happen to anyone. Unfortunately this time, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer (or more famous/rich) guy. It doesn’t justify any of the afore mentioned actions, and granted, it’s no one’s fault but his own; but should all the media scrutiny just be chocked up to the price of being a world-renowned celebrity? If it were say, Dennis Rodman or Danny Bonaduce, this would all be “par for the course”(pun) and less people would care because there sort of things are almost expected from them. But “Super-Tiger” has finally shown a weakness, and that’s what’s really interesting to people, and worth exploitation to people looking to make money off of other people’s misfortunes. He’s human after all folks, alright, mystery solved. You guys really got him good this time. Everyone happy?

Leave the guy alone, and let him clean up his life, so he can get back to doing what he does best: being better than anyone else on Earth at golf. Sure he made some mistakes and he’s paying for them, but I’d rather see him continue to frustrate Phil Mickelson’s attempt to better his World Ranked #2 ceiling any day; not to mention thwarting any other golfer’s attempt to win a tournament that both he and Tiger are both in. Isn’t that the Tiger Woods we’d all rather watch, hear and read about?

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