From all parts of America, from different states and cities, people sit down to watch one of the most watched sporting events in the world, the Super Bowl. They can’t wait to see Jj Watt sack Tom Brady and Julian Edelman catch the ultimate pass for a touchdown. The entertainment and intensity that comes from the game is what draws the fans’ attention. Athletes, just like any other person, want to succeed and don’t want to disappoint their fans. As a result, they will go beyond themselves to fulfill the expectations of their coaches, fans and teammates by using performance enhancement drugs (PEDs) to become as Klosterman said “a rhinoceros who moves like a deer,” in his article “Why We Look the Other Way.” What they don’t understand is that by using these drugs they are causing a lot of harm to themselves as well as to others. Due to this, I believe PEDs use by athletes should not be allowed at all for the safety of countless people.
First, when athletes use performance enhancement drugs, they are unaware of the harmful effects it has on the human body. For instance, I’m going to start by talking about three main PEDs: anabolic designer steroids, human growth hormone, and erythropoietin, and the harmful results that come from them. To start off, anabolic steroids taken from testosterone, a hormone produced in the testes of males and in the ovaries of females, might look like they are good to use because they cause increases in muscle growth and strength, the reduction of fat and the improvement in healing time after an injury. However, anabolic steroids can cause high blood pressure, acne, kidney failure, the decline in sperm production, changes in the menstrual cycle of women, and heart disease. Another PED, human growth hormone, a hormone used to improve muscle mass and performance, might seem safe to use, but however hasn’t been shown to improve strength or endurance, so it can’t be reliable to take. Also, this drug can be severe and may cause joint pain, muscle weakness, vision problems, diabetes, and believe it or not an enlarged heart. This shows that it is not worth using. Lastly, let’s look at one more drug, erythropoietin. This is a type a hormone that is used to treat anemia (a condition developed when your blood lacks enough healthy blood cells) in people with severe kidney disease. It increases the production of red blood cells and hemoglobin, but athletes use it to improve the movement of oxygen to their muscles. When used improperly, this drug contributes to the increase in the risk of stroke, heart attack and blockage of an artery in the lung. According to research done by Mayo Clinic, Erythropoietin use in the 1990s contributed to at least 18 deaths. If you’ve noticed most of these drugs are meant for medical use and prescribed only. However, when used inappropriately these drugs can be very harmful to one’s body and may be life-threatening.
To continue when athletes use PEDs, they are significantly cheating themselves. To begin, just like what I said in the last paragraph, Performance enhancement drugs cause significant effects to one’s body. For instance, in Chuck Klosterman’s article, “Why We Look the Other Way,” he explains the story of a former Eagle, Andre Walters, who committed suicide at the age of 44. When he was examined after his death, Klosterman explained that “his brain indicated he had the neurological tissue of an 85-year old man with Alzheimer’s, almost certainly the result of using his skull as a weapon for 12 seasons” (Par.16). This is the result of abnormal strength enhanced by PEDs. Another way it cheats oneself is that when one does something they know was wrong, they tend to be filled with shame and nervousness for what they did. For example, have you ever accidentally broken something or scraped the paint off your parent’s car, then tried to hide it or ignore it like nothing ever happened? However, once you walk away from your mistake you have the weight of guilt upon you and the nervousness of someone finding out. This is the ultimate price you must pay for your actions. Christopher Bergland said it best in his article “Cheaters Never Win,” when he said that “The shame associated with cheating is the price cheaters pay, and why cheaters never win- even if they’re never caught.” If drugs weren’t allowed to be used by athletes, their lives would be extremely less troublesome and stressful.
Another reason PEDs should not be used is that it cheats the people around the athletes. First, when athletes use drugs to alter their capabilities, they are causing unfair competition for other players. Allenby used a good example about military advancement that relates a lot to competition involving sports. He used an argument people make that “real warriors don’t hide behind remotely controlled machines; it is only fair that soldiers be killed by other soldiers” (Allenby, 2013). This means that just like using drones and robots to fight and spy on opponents who don’t have any technological advantages, when athletes with unrealistic qualities and a substantial amount of strength and power, go up against people who are using their own earned strength to play, their opponents have the disadvantage. They are playing against players that are two times bigger than they are. This is a dangerous situation because these matches could lead to concussions and broken bones. Another is that most of the big cities have a professional sports team that they take a lot of pride in. Due to this, when they are faced with the fact that one of their star players got suspended for the use of PEDs, they are hit with shock and disappointment. As a result of these scandals, the city is looked at as being a city of mischief. Although the athlete didn’t mean to hurt anybody, in some way it will hurt and effect another person or group of people.
Some people think PEDs should be allowed, because it gives athletes the short-term effects of winning and the sense of pride they feel while playing. It is understood from a young age that in order to succeed, one must finish on top in every challenge one faces. This is the type of thoughts most people have in their heads. Lance Armstrong is a good example when he said “Two things scare me. The first is getting hurt. But that’s not nearly as scary as the second, which is losing.” This is so applicable to what people think nowadays. They think winning is the most important thing, that if they don’t win, they will be failures, so they must do everything in their power not to fail. One way they solve this problem is by increasing their muscle and strength by using PEDs. This is where it can be argued that you don’t have to take drugs to succeed. You must take your time by working out on your own and striving every day to be better than you were yesterday. Bergland said it best “Yes, you want to be your absolute best and to try your hardest to win and to be thrilled if you are victorious…But you cannot cheat to win on an ethical and karmic level” (Bergland, 2012). To continue, no matter what short-term effects drugs have on athletes, they will eventually come face-to-face with the long-term effects. This includes the shame of screwing up that will break you down from the inside of your body and the many body effects that will come with the absorption of the drugs. To end my claim, I want to quote Bergland from his article “Cheaters Never Win.” He said “the long-term shame and anxiety of cheating will ultimately negate the short-term gains of victory. So be a good sport and play fair! It will end up rewarding you in the long run and make you a happier person” (Bergland, 2012).
In the final analysis, performance enhancement drugs should be banned from the use by athletes in order to protect themselves and their surrounding environment. There are so many effects that come with using these drugs. Some can be minor, not causing as much as a problem, while others can be very life-threatening. If an athlete were to be banned from using them, they would be saved from the devastation of the future as well as the frustration of their fans. I want to end with a question that I think everyone needs to ask themselves to better understand my point. The question is how would it feel to be told your whole life that you would be something big one day but when you get to that point, your dream ends when you test positive for anabolic steroids and are stripped of every major achievement you had earned so far? How would you feel inside? How would your family, coaches, teammates, and fans feel? Is the guilt and shame of this something you would want for the rest of your life? This is good reason why PEDs should be banned so athletes wouldn’t have to come face to face with those questions. As you finish reading, it would be important if you walk away thinking this. What would be the weight difference on a player who is using performance enhancement drugs versus who stays far away from these drugs?
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