Thursday, July 19, 2007

Performance Enhancers

Well it is safe to say that in the world of sport, media and society that this is a hotly discussed topic. If you look in any newspapaer, listen to any sports radio station, watch any sports TV (especially ESPN) you will find performance enhancing drugs being discussed or so it seems.

In my experience and through my studies and discussions with other educated professionals I have found much of what is being reported to be short on factual explanation and long on opinion. The challenge for me is who is expressing these opinions and the question of their resources and possible motives. I am not sure 'reporters' are often as informed as some of the more knowledgable experts in the field of Sport Performance.

In addition, I am not sure any of us who are not competing at the highest levels, with millions of dollars on the line in salaries and endorsements, the fame, the glamour, etc. understand the pressures behind what it takes to succeed as a professional athlete, in ANY sport. Therefore, I have compassion for these athletes and I cannot truly say if I was faced with the decision to use performance enhancers to enhance my chances for success that I would not do so. For this reason I have no judgement against these athletes.

A number of arguements exist for the banishment of these drugs, the most common I have heard is to level the playing field. In theory this sounds excellent but I am not sure a level playing field exists with or without. Truth be told, I am not sure such an ideal exist in life. This being said, I am for banning the use of illegal performance enhancers and testing of athletes. However, I do not believe we should convict anyone, no matter what until prove exist and that person has jurisprudence.

In the meantime, I am going to sit back and enjoy reading, watching, etc. sports as they are, as they exist. I respect these athletes for their commitment to wanting to be their best and for all the hard work they put into their craft. Because no matter what one takes to help their performance, you still have to work your arse off and show up and perform. The drug does not make the athlete but it can help.

I believe moving forward that it is important to educate athletes, especially the young kids about performance enhancers and to have responsible, educated professionals leading the way and that includes me. You may ask why I wrote this piece today and I will tell you because I have had been asked by a young athlete about 'steriods'. This made me go out and do more research to educate myself so I could give him facts not just opinions.

The reason he asked is because he is competing in an unfair playing field and it has nothing to do with the use of performance enhancers but more to do with parental pressures on coaches in youth leagues and parent coaches playing favorites. This is tough for a young kid to understand, the politics and reasons behind decisions and we can see that life is not always fair and this lesson is learned at a young age. My advice to him was to work hard, prepare yourself to be the best everyday and no matter what he will know in his heart and soul that he did everything he could to be his best and did so in a clean, healthy, safe and with respect for himself, the game, and his opponents. Since in life it is not about the destination but it is about the journey!

Thank you for taking the time to read this! I welcome any thoughts.



Aaron Friday said...

This is a great post, Joe, and something I've had to reconcile myself to, being a fan of major league baseball. There is no level playing field to begin with, but add "users vs. non-users" to the equation skews the playing field even more.

Professional sports will never get rid of the drugs and, as long as amateur sports lead to professional sports and money, I don't see how the amateurs will get rid of them either.

What I've decided is that Sports are what they are. I can choose to care about them, or not. It has no effect on my real life because it's just entertainment to me. If I were a trainer, I would stick to training and let the athletes themselves make those decisions, for better or worse.

Joefitness said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Well Stated! It is just entertainment, that is so true, especially these days.

Definitely cannot make decisions for others, so compassion and educate and support go a long way!

All the best Aaron!