The use of steroids, or performance-enhancing drugs, makes headlines on a regular basis throughout the sports world. Baseball is no exception. With the dwindling popularity of the sport, baseball is also less capable of recovering from such bad press than, say, football. But should these drugs actually be banned? Their use has caused so much controversy and uproar that it may be a huge factor in killing the sport, and people who use them do so because fans demand excellence.
Drawbacks to steroid use in baseball
For the sport of baseball, the one major drawback of performance enhancing drugs is that it’s seen as an unfair advantage. It’s disallowed by the leagues, so only the people who are willing to break the rules and risk discovery use such drugs. Because it’s disallowed, the use of drugs has a negative ethical and moral stigma attached. Whenever someone does test positive for performance enhancing drugs, it makes big headlines – unless you’re an avid fan of the sport, these may be the only baseball-related headlines you ever see.
Constantly testing for performance enhancing drugs, as well as developing tests that can keep up with this constantly evolving drug class, is prohibitively expensive. Money that could otherwise go to marketing, recruitment, training, equipment or maintaining professional facilities goes to finding out the very people who cause the bad press.
Steroid benefits for the sport of baseball
While it may seem counter-intuitive to allow performance enhancing drugs in baseball, it is what fans demand. The sport has been around for a long time, and baseball enthusiasts are likely to know all of the best baseball moments. People want to see bigger and better, and they want to go to a game knowing that there’s a chance to see something that’s never been done before. Not only is that getting harder and harder to do, but no one knows how many of those past records were made with the help of performance enhancing drugs.
How should steroid decisions actually be made?
The all-out ban on the use of performance enhancing drugs has been attributed to a number of factors. These include offering an unfair advantage to the “juicer” and creating incentives for more effective performance enhancers. At the same time, estimates state that anywhere from 40%-80% of baseball players use some form of performance enhancement.
All known performance enhancing drugs have health consequences. Some of the consequences can be severe, even causing crippling issues later in life or early death. Virtually anyone who has ever taken these drugs is aware of the risk and chose to take them anyway.
Instead of a ban on performance enhancing drugs, the sport of baseball should allow each individual to make the choice to take them or not. Every player needs to be fully informed of the impact on their health, but then let each do whatever they’re willing in order to play the best game. It’s a completely separate argument than the steroid debate in horse racing or other similar sports, because here the athlete can speak for himself.
Overall, the use of performance enhancing drugs is a personal decision, whether it’s legal in the league or not. Safeguards need to be in place to ensure that coaches, team owners and other affiliated influencers don’t try to force athletes to take drugs, but it should fall to a personal choice beyond that. The game demands “bigger and better” if it’s going to survive, and the ban on performance enhancing drugs is doing nothing but choke the sport.