By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Steroid Tests At High School Level A Much Needed Tool
Hooten was a star baseball player in Plano, Texas but he was taking steroids and that ultimately ended his young life. His parents were distraught and the story was so compelling that it was on 60 Minutes II.
Since that story and since my op/ed, I’ve been a very strong proponent of high schools in Texas testing their young athletes for steroids and I was even more diligent once the BALCO case emerged itself from the Bay Area and into our living rooms.
So when it was announced by the University Interscholastic League and the state legislature that an approved steroid test for high school athletes was finally here, not only did I applaud the decision, I was especially glad to see that lawmakers understood the dynamics of the situation at hand.
Whether parents want to believe it or not, high school athletics is indeed big business; especially varsity football. Whether parents, students and/or faculty want to acknowledge this problem or not, steroid usage is indeed prevalent in this state just like in any other state in the country and kids will mimic their professional athlete heroes.
That is why it is so important for professional athletes to realize that their actions do indeed have consequences. It is why former players like Mark McGwire realize that just because androstenedione was a legal supplement for “him” to use when he was crushing Roger Maris’ homer record, he had an obligation to not have it sitting in his locker when cameras were interviewing him.
That is why current pro athletes today need to be careful what they say and what they use in their own workouts as again these younger athletes will run to the GNC store and try to score the EXACT same product that they see in a magazine or on television.
And if a high school athlete is good enough to be an “elite” player, he or she will undoubtedly be subjected to the products that are available “under the table”. Those products include steroids.
Parents who are thinking that this is singling out their athletes need to get a grip on the seriousness of this issue. If there was a procedure in place for the UIL in 2004, I firmly believe that Hooten family would have young Tyler with them and that we may be reading about him in our favorite sports magazine.
Hooten was that good of a baseball player from what I have gathered and that young man could have been something special for the Plano area. So, from this perspective, every kid needs to be tested just so that there will be no tragedies like what the Hootens faced or the countless others that we may not even know about.
What parents need to realize is that an athletic activity isn’t a right their student athlete has had bestowed upon them but a privilege that is granted by the school itself. If a steroid test is administered and that parent or student does not want to subject him or herself to it, then they need to realize the gravity of their decision and the consequences that will ensue.
There is no gray area here and there shouldn’t be. Only the letter of the law needs to apply in this case so that everyone understands the seriousness of the situation and the importance of compliance by all involved.
So it is indeed a great honor to be a small foot soldier that has helped get this legislation to become a bill. Even though Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst may not have read any of my columns, I know from e-mails over the past two years that somebody has been reading them on this topic and that somehow somebody thought that it was a worthwhile issue to pursue.
For me, as one lone journalistic voice, I don’t care who got this issue to become law, I’m just glad it became one. Across this country there are thousands of young men and women who are playing their selected sport without any incident of steroid use but there are those who will cheat.
Those are the players who are bad for high school sports. If their parents support them in their use of illegal substances that enhance their abilities, then those parents are no good for the booster clubs either. Something had to be done and the Texas legislature has finally said it will.
Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and other state legislatures in this state and across the country should be applauded for wanting to make it safe for our children to play high school sports.
Parents should be clapping and getting behind these men and women who have bucked a status quo system and decided to put the safety of “our future” first and they left the partisan politics to a minimum. Other states have proposed similar laws and as great as this feat is today, much work is still needed to be accomplished for the future.
There needs to be a national law that backs up the state’s law as well. Maybe one day soon the elected officials at the Capitol and at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will also put politics aside and help parents save their children from this silent killer.
VICK IN BIG TIME TROUBLE, FANS JUST FLAT CLUELESS
Want to know why it’s bad being a fan sometimes for your favorite team or player? Because you get myopia and believe that your team or player can do not wrong. Want to know what is even worse than a myopic fan? Try a myopic pro athlete who thinks or perceives to believe he is above the law in any fashion.
Such is the case with Michael Vick and these dog-fighting charges that are now nipping, yes nipping, at his heels. Couple that with Atlanta Falcon fans who believe that the man has done nothing wrong and that this investigation is either racially motivated, economically motivated or both and you have the true makings of a story that seems to grow by leaps and bounds.
ESPN recently did a story about Vick and his perceived connection to the dog fighting underground. The Roanoke, Va. Newspaper’s website (www.roanoke.com), gave a list of Vick’s family members who have been in trouble with the law and some of them have been either cited or arrested for dog fighting.
Yet many fans firmly believe that Vick is innocent of such charges and that this is nothing more than a witch-hunt by the four letter network and other media outlets. The problem with the perceptions of many of these fans and even some of Vick’s closest confidants is that no one is paying attention to the new sheriff that has come to the NFL landscape; Roger Goodell.
With Goodell in charge now, things are not being swept under the rug like in the regime of Paul Tagliabue. Unlike Tags and his predecessor, Pete Rozelle, Goodell isn’t going to let negative publicity from any NFL employee derail the league and send it down the canyon of despair that it found itself in over the past few years.
Drug abuse, spousal abuse, and dog fighting. If it is against the morals of this country, if it is against the laws for the states and this country, Goodell is enforcing them in the NFL.
That spells bad news for Vick and he probably knows it. Unlike the rest of us, Vick doesn’t have to be innocent and then proven guilty. He is in a tyrannical system that pays him $130 million over several years and he signed on just like the other 1,500 plus athletes plus hundreds of employees of the NFL.
Fans may think this isn’t fair but then again, fans dont get paid millions of dollars to perform their jobs either. And whether fans want to realize it or not, in this society, we are all subject to some sort of company rule that we work for.
Vick and other players who finding themselves under the scrutiny of the league are no different than the janitor who is coming off of a probationary period or the company executive who is finding out that his secretary stole thousands of dollars on his watch. What every the policies are at your place of employment you follow; whatever the policies are for the NFL, Vick and others must adhere to.
Many fans want this story to go away but it cannot just vanish. For years fans wanted athletes to be subject to the same “rigors” that they may face in the “real world” and when that day happens, many of them start saying that litmus tests for these individuals are too high or the rules are to strict.
Well which do you want, leniency in which pro athletes go bonkers and do whatever they want or a police action that forces these individuals to live their lives just like you and I do?
Michael Vick is in big time trouble and his fans and admirers need to realize that he is the only one who can save himself from this peril. The league is not going to stand idly by and let any action that is perceived as either illegal or immoral give it a bad mark. Whether fans agree with that assessment isn’t the issue.
In this case, the fans really don’t have a say in the matter. If the league doesn’t take this position and just let this slide by, more serious offenses will come forth and get the same gloss over treatment. That’s happened in the past and we see where it got both players and fans alike.
Fans need Goodell to stand firm on this and they need outlets like ESPN to continue to push stories like this out in front of us. If not, the moral fiber that is already strained in our society will only get weaker. After all, sporting events are not just entertainment these days; it is a reflection of our society — good or bad as that may be.
EDITORS NOTE: For more on Greg’s previous story about scholastic sports and steroids, go to http://www.blackathlete.com/High_School_28/In_Lieu_Of_The_BALCO_Case _Are_High_School_Athletes_Still_Trying_To_Mimic_The_Pros.shtml .