Enhancing the Team, or Just the Individual?

The earliest news item I can find that includes the term "performance-enhancing drugs" is a New York Times article from Oct. 27, 1982, the headline of which poses an interesting question: "Is Sportsmanship on the Decline?"

Let's evaluate.

Sportsmanship means fairness.

PEDs provide athletes with an unfair advantage over their competition -- and their teammates. Widespread use of PEDs with minimal repercussions encourages the abuse and tacitly pressures non-users to turn to steroids just to keep up. (Some have argued that's all the more reason to open sports up to steroid use. I'm not convinced.)

Sportsmanship means taking losses graciously.

By not playing fair, PED-using athletes prove that they aren't good losers. Otherwise, why take such a win-at-any-cost approach?

Sportsmanship means being a team player.

Unnaturally beefing up (allegedly, that is) might be helpful to the team as a whole, but Barry Bonds's and Mark McGwire's home run records and Rafael Palmiero's 3000 hits/500 homers achievement suggest the primary reason for PED use is individual glory. Of course, when an athlete is caught and suspended, that loss hurts the whole team. It's also worth considering that with aggression and irritability likely side effects of anabolic steroids, that anger could adversely affect the user's teammates -- a possibility blogger John J Perricone would say is doubtful.

By these measures -- and please feel free to add any other criteria in the comments -- PED use is by no means sportsmanlike. But has the situation worsened since 1982? Because testing wasn't very prevalent then -- and still isn't as frequent as perhaps it should be -- we can't say for certain, as Joe Morgan emphasizes over at ESPN.

It would be a fair call to say that fans are more skeptical these days, particularly of those suddenly-strapping ball players. We'll talk a bit more about the effects of PED abuse on fans this afternoon.

By Emily Messner |  March 15, 2006; 9:49 AM ET  | Category:  Misc.
Previous: The Facts: Performance - Enhancing Drugs | Next: What About the Fans?


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Frankly blooger John J Perricone should open a newspaper.

Emily's point regarding the pscyhological effect steroids have on the relationship between teammates is extremely well received by this debater.

In subtle ways steroid use creates a tense atmosphere where the users must enforce a non-disclosure of abuse over the non-users, who are also coerced pscyhologically by their peers to participate in the illicit drug use.

In not so subtle cases that John J Perricone seems to ignore, the relationship between teammates can become violent. When Bill Romanowski (admitted steroid user) punched teammate walk-on Marcus Williams in his face during practice, it didn't take a magnifying glass to witness the "tension" brewing. The event ultimately lead to Bill Romanowski's retirement with 400,000 in fines. It also ended Marcus williams' career (from the broken eye socket).

But he was just *really* angry I guess.

Posted by: Will | March 15, 2006 10:58 AM

The Democrats' will probably lose their asses in this fall's elections


[another pasted article, another cropping by Emily. Che, while I appreciate that this article was shorter than usual, cutting and pasting random opinion pieces and news stories still isn't cool. Please stop.]

Posted by: che [cropped by Emily] | March 15, 2006 11:39 AM

Em, could I suggest a bit of a digression into the area of how, exactly, Congress has the authority to conduct hearings on the conduct of what is essentially an entertainment business? I've read articles advocating open steroid use, decrying steroid use as the death of sport, but have not seen anything on the government's interest in the regulation of these issues outside of enforcing existing law.

Posted by: Murracito | March 15, 2006 01:20 PM

Hey, cut Scooter some slack, treason takes a lot of concentration
By Mark Drolette


[Che -- no more pasting any parts of any articles here. They're almost never on topic. My patience is waning.] http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/thedebate/2006/03/is_it_civil_war.html#comments

Posted by: che [cropped by Emily] | March 15, 2006 01:30 PM

Murracito wrote:
"Em, could I suggest a bit of a digression into the area of how, exactly, Congress has the authority to conduct hearings on the conduct of what is essentially an entertainment business?"

Easy one. Interstate commerce clause. What doesn't it cover?

Posted by: Cayambe | March 15, 2006 01:32 PM

Che, for the love of God, go away. What on earth does your post have to do with this discussion?


Posted by: Derek | March 15, 2006 01:59 PM

Che, seriously. You're hurting your intent. Your posts have nothing to do with the topic at hand, whether as a response/tangent off of what emily posted or what another poster has stated.

I think I understand your intent, but you must realize that very few people are probably reading your posts. We chalk you up as some random nut and that reflects poorly on the topics you post and the information you try to impart. If you want to talk about these things, talk about them. But make sure you actually speak about them rather than copy and paste, and make sure they are on topic.

Posted by: Freedom | March 15, 2006 02:06 PM

Dear Freedom,

We don't control what the papers say,we don't even control what the blogs say, but we can control our own postings, they are coming for us(the middle class,) after the november elections, why can you not see it?

Yours truly,

Posted by: Che | March 15, 2006 02:17 PM

What the Post needs is a political catch-on blog so people can comment on the topics of the day all day all night.

But three straight PED blogs in a row is probably making the political junkies in a city like DC desperate. Could we talk about IED next? I mean it's a lot more relevant to the main event of our time. Here we are the only super power left on earth and one of the two that can wipe the entire human race of its surface and our biggest military (and W's biggest political) problem is IED! A WWI invention. What's next? The Great Depression?

Posted by: Che's Pro Bono | March 15, 2006 02:28 PM

Caymbe -- Got it about the interstate commerce thingy. A bit curious that there aren't hearings on fight rigging and steroid use in professional wrestling, for example, whereas professional baseball players get called in before congress to give testimony on steroid use in that sport. I'm curious to know some of the history behind Congress's interest in baseball, i.e. such matters as the extent/existence of Congressional involvement in the integration of the sport, as a point of comparison and perhaps a way of understanding whether the steroid hearings were a publicity stunt, or reflective of a particular relationship.

Posted by: Murracito | March 15, 2006 02:31 PM

Thank you Che, for actually posting.

In response to your post, I think you are the one who does not see it. You post in a way that causes most people to disregard you shortly after they start reading this blog(If anyone disagrees, please let me know so that I can alter future statements). So your little tirade of posts does not have your intended effect because we don't care to read the same rehashed posts, that clutter up our discussions. I, and others, have asked that if you must do that, please give the link and a small description. If you wish to write more, discuss it yourself. Its pointless to post articles without commentary as there seems to be no point in discussing them. You post them as important when really, they do nothing to spur discussion as there is no one to discuss with. You don't even post on topic. Even Emily has asked you to knock this off.

And in regards to me seeing it or not, I would prolly have a better chance if you actually posted about it, rather than recycling stories. I don't read them. I want to talk with you, not "Mr. Chuckles" or whoever wrote the article. Spark debate, reference articles about said debate, and go from there. Maybe then someone 'will see it,' as you put it. Until then, I and a good portion of debaters simply ignore what you post, attacking you moreso for not adding to the discussion than for what you are trying to hijack the discussion with.

/Let's see if you speak this time.

Posted by: Freedom | March 15, 2006 02:40 PM

Muy bien....actually Congress does have a peculiar interest in baseball, having shielded this particular sport from the anti-trust provisions of the law. How football and hockey etc. operate without this exemption that is deemed necessary to the well being of baseball is beyond me, but most writers seem to act like it is. Whatever it is, it must be very valuble to the rich guys that own teams, and therefore a very valuble source of political contributions to Congressmen and Senators.

As to their involvement in the integration of baseball; not as I recall it. That was pretty much just the raw courage of Jackie Robinson and one team owner not on steroids (meaning with balls). It didn't happen overnight either. It took some years of proving over and over again that negros were just as good and better even than blancos, and some even nicer.

Posted by: Cayambe | March 15, 2006 04:30 PM

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company