In case you haven’t been paying attention, or perhaps you are a new reader (welcome to the club, send your fan club dues to 300 N. Spring St.), either way I feel inclined to let you know that I am a sports kind of guy. I love sports. I tend to pull sports stories and photos and move them out on the front page of the paper because, well, I’m a sports kind of guy.
With that said, I have kept a close eye on the Alex Rodriguez situation. I know it seems like overkill. The major news media have followed Rodriguez everywhere except the bathroom stall. But I’m going to tell you why you should pay attention, too.
If we don’t pay close attention it will hit closer to home than you could imagine. I can tell you with 100 percent confidence five people who I know took steroids and played sports for our local high school here in Manchester. Relax, these guys have moved on and graduated a few years ago. But it wasn’t that long ago.
I am not on the sports scene now like I used to be. I pay close attention, but I’m not at practices every day and involved like I used to be. But I would be willing to venture this guess: it could easily happen again.
If we are willing to turn a blind eye and lock away the A-Fraud’s and Ryan Braun’s of the world into a box and label it, “well, it was part of the game” then what are we willing to do on the local level?
For years we knew it was happening. For years Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds ballooned to look like video game characters from Super Nintendo’s Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball. They looked like Popeye on his spinach.
And we just thought they were lifting hard?
I don’t believe that one can say they watched Mark McGwire break seats in leftfield and the Cardinals enshrine the area with the title “Big Mac Land” and not know something was wrong.
Have you compared video from Barry Bonds’ first year as a San Francisco Giant and his last? It looks like the difference between a pre-pubescent middle schooler and a ‘roided up 20-year-old body builder. But we didn’t know?
We all knew. We all accepted it and we are all guilty of promoting it. The past is the past and it’s done and over with. It’s encouraging to see players today willing to accept stiffer penalties to rid the game of cheating. (Although let’s be honest, cheaters will only cease to exist the day sports cease to exist.)
But during this time of enhanced media coverage and scrutiny, thankfully all negative, I want to remind all of you, especially parents and coaches, to have that conversation with your child and your players. We talk about pot and we talk about drinking beers with our kids, but to not have a conversation about performance enhancing drugs is no different than watching Alex Rodriguez be a level better than anyone else in the league for years and saying he just works hard. Everyone in the major leagues works hard.
Kids have ways to get things. They have ways to get money. I once saved up two weeks’ worth of lunch money to buy something I wanted. My parents never knew. Granted a six-week cycle of steroids cost a bit more than $25, but it’s doable.
With steroids in the media now much like they were eight and 10 years ago, kids have their eyes on them and are exposed to the glory that PEDs can provide. All kids have to do is not get caught. Kids are masters at doing things and hoping to not get caught.
Talk to your kids about steroids. It can happen here. I’ve seen it.
-Josh Peterson is the editor of the Manchester Times . He has won TPA awards for his writing and photography. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or by telephone at 931-728-7577 ext. 105. Follow him on Twitter @joshpeterson29