Growing up I was surrounded with the game of baseball. Going to Angels and Dodger games have been a family affair since I was a little kid. My brother and I looked up to the athletes as our role models. We would wait after games and try to get the players’ autographs because we were so amazed at their athleticism and they were what we ultimately would like to be: a professional athlete.
So, when I look back at the years I have spent at all the ball parks and around these athletes, whether it was in person or on television it provides great memories. I remember asking my dad what I needed to do to be as good as them. The most common response was practice and work hard.
This makes me wonder what response kids are getting today. The response from Major League Baseball now would seem to be, use performance enhancing substances and you will be able to hit 661 home runs like Barry Bonds. Forget the hard work!
I still love the game today, but it is not as pure as I remember it. In recent months Major League Baseball decided to start “penalizing” players for using steroids. After records have been made!
The penalties, which are so minimal they do not include suspensions or even public disclosure, are going into effect because last November more than 5 percent of anonymous steroid tests came back positive among Major League baseball players. Last time I checked, steroids were illegal unless prescribed by a doctor for medical reasons. So what’s going on with these so-called role models?
Under baseball’s current labor contract, which took effect on Sept. 30, 2002, testing with penalties begins after any season in which 5 percent of survey tests are positive.
What kind of message is that sending to our youth that looks up to these record setting athletes? Steroids are okay as long as fewer than 5 percent of baseball players are using them.
If MLB has minimal testing and remains silent when the subject comes up they think maybe the issue will become less popular and fade away. They were handed a rude awakening.
Federal authorities confiscated the results and samples of drug tests last week of several Major League players that testified last winter to a grand jury that investigated and brought charges against an alleged steroid distribution ring.
MLB’s silence on the issue is suspicious and the fact that they are cozy with the player’s union doubles the suspicion. These tests are no longer in the hands of MLB. So, I am expecting a twist.
All other professional sports have extremely strict banned-substances lists. So why not MLB? The bottom line is, steroids and other performance enhancing drugs take the meaning out of what it takes to be a professional athlete. I is supposed to take talent and dedication, not injecting oneself with a needle, to be the best.
Meanwhile, beloved home run records are being tarnished.
MLB must stop ignoring the problem and take action. Nobody knows the specific extent of steroid use in MLB or who exactly is involved. But, we do know that something is going on and it is not sending a positive message to our youth. In fact it is damaging the reputation of America’s favorite past time.
Amanda Egan, a senior journalism major, is news editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.