The Steroids Debate Continued.

By Jerold Wells Jr.
Updated: May 17, 2005

MINNESOTA—The essence of sport is competition. Winning or losing, succeeding or failing. From the first time any of us picked up a ball, we knew that victory was a goal….it was THE goal. Gaining life lessons such as discipline, teamwork, and trust were optional (although integral) in fostering that competition and finding our purpose within the world of sports.

That said, competition relates to victory. Winning is the reason to play. My father often says that the person who coined the phrase,” It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but how you play the game”, probably did not win much. To win proves all the work done for the sake of competition was not done in vain; it justifies you.

The steroids discussion is beginning to die down as the lawmakers of this country wind down questioning sessions with the leaders of the four major American sports. (Football, Basketball, Baseball and Hockey.) Allow me to add a little wood to this fading fire.

Why would an athlete use performance enhancing drugs? Why would a young man or woman choose to their career at most or their reputation at least in jeopardy by using illegal steroids? Why? Because they want to win that’s why. They want to be the best. Let’s see what some athletes around the world of sports have to say.

John Malone, College Football Player, Big State University I use steroids because I have to. That’s the bottom line. If I don’t, somebody else is going to, outperform me and then I’m one spot lower on the depth chart. There is always an edge in my sport. It’s just a matter of who has it. I need to have the edge. Who can get that bench press up fastest, who can improve their squat fastest, and who can consistently shave time off their 40 yard dash?

For the simple fact that I play at Big State I am talented, but after my talent I’ve got to have drive…..and my drive tells me to do whatever it takes; Even if that means a few needles and some cream. I didn’t come to Big State to be a nobody. I came here to play, play well, and get to the NFL. Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I lift and do so religiously. I run extra wind sprints before and after practice. I watch film. I’m a good citizen, I stay out of trouble and I go to class. Hell I even keep a 3.0 GPA. But when it’s time for scouts to decide if I can play in the NFL none of that matters.

All that will matter is whether or not I can cut it. Can I make the tackle? Can I break up that pass? Can I get off blocks consistently? I can if I have an edge. I can if I have a little bit more than the guy who’s in back of me and wants my job. I don’t use because I want to, I do it because I have to. Bigger, stronger, and faster baby, that’s what the league wants. You had better believe that what I’m going to give them.

Allen Wallace, Professional Basketball Player, Iowa BearKats I use steroids because I don’t have a choice. Every year this league is getting younger. Kids are coming in and playing at a high level at 22, 23 years old. I’m an All-Star, an established star in this league but there’s a kid we drafted last year who jumps higher, runs faster, and moves quicker than I do. All I have on him right now is experience, but how long will that be enough?

Take for example Eddie Jones in Miami. He’s a good guy, a solid player and a former All-Star. He’s provided veteran leadership and timely scoring for that team consistently during his time with the team. In spite of all his wonderful contributions, the Heat drafted his replacement (Dorrell Wright) and will no doubt look at him in training camp next season to see if he has developed enough to fill Eddie’s role with the team. Not only is Wright a cheaper option but soon he’ll have the experience and maturity to pair with his talent and promise. When that happens what is Eddie to do? How does he delay such a transition?

I’ll tell you what I would do; better yet I’ll tell you what I’m doing. I’m putting this needle in my butt that’s what I’m doing. I’ll stay on the top of my game, both physically and mentally, for as long as I can. I don’t blame the organization. Basketball is a young man’s game. If I had to choose between a 23 year old and a 31 year old with similar skills I’d take the 23 year old without hesitation. Loyalty is a commendable trait to possess but smart business doesn’t always recognize loyalty. I know that and I do what I have to do to remain the best player at my position on my team.

I don’t have an off-season. I work out when the season is over to make sure I have a job when the season starts. It just so happens that I can make a phone call or two and give myself a little more. That little bit more is going to help me keep the kid we drafted out of my spot. For that reason, the little bit more is ok.

Derek Hunter, Major League Baseball Player, Oregon Foresters First, let me say this: I haven’t been using for that long. I never had to. I was taught that if you work your tail off and do the right thing, good things will happen to and for you. In high school, college, and during my years in the minors I was clean. I’ve always been able to field and I have a strong arm so my skills as a shortstop were never questioned. I could always cut it. In addition, I’m a switch hitter who bats for average and spreads the ball to all fields. To compliment that, I used to hit the occasional home run. (Emphasis on occasional.) In college, the minors, and my first 4 years in the league I never hit more than 15 home runs. I was told I was good, but I wouldn’t be great unless I could hit for power. Today’s league isn’t for the .345 hitter who hits 10-15 homeruns a season. As great a hitter as Tony Gwynn was how much better would he have been had he consistently hit 35 homeruns a season? Some might have referred to him as the best hitter ever.

I want to be great. I want my name mentioned with Rodriguez, Helton, Pujols, and Chipper Jones. To reach that level I must complete my game: so I use. When I hear people criticize steroid use in the game, I die laughing inside. They say it’s ruining the sport because it’s dishonest and illegal. I don’t care about that. I do this because I want to take my game to the next level. If you want a promotion at your job, you get there early and you stay late. If you want to be a good cook, you read a book or take a class or watch Emeril. In my profession all the overtime in the world won’t do. Some of the hardest working ball players I’ve ever come across I knew in college and the minors. Guess what? They’re still there.

For whatever reason, I’m here in the majors. I had the tools needed to get here and I work hard to maintain them. The next step for me is to cement my status as a superstar. I feel that juicing can do that for me. It works for other guys. I’m talking 35-40 homerun guys created in one summer. Fans see it and they don’t complain because they know that a big hitter in the clean up spot for their home team is the answer to beating the reigning division champion and going to the post season. They know that if their team can get a little run production, then pitching and defense can get them to the ALCS.

You take the bad with the good. Personally, I strike out more, but on the other hand I score more runs for the team. Injuries tend to stay a little longer but there’s no problem with me taking off a game every other week. Because I am a great baseball player I get the love of the best fans in the world, I live an awesome life, and I make good money. Steroids are a small price to pay for that. The investment is nothing compared to the return. Moreover, if you ask me next week I’ll say the exact same thing.