Tuned In

This Is Me On Steroids

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Steroids in baseball is not exactly under the jurisdiction of this blog, but what the hell: it’s Friday, Time.com doesn’t have a sports blog, and it seems to be all anyone wants to talk about today anyway. So for your argumentative pleasure, here’s an essay I wrote about steroids in 2004, in my pre-blog days. Why do people get so het up about athletes buying themselves artificial advantages, when so much in our society is about buying yourself artificial advantages? It begins:

Turn on a football game, and you’ll see cheerleaders with seam-popping breast implants, aging sportscasters with suspiciously tenacious hairlines and commercials for pills that promise Olympian erections. Turn on the news, and you’ll hear about how athletes have got the notion that it’s O.K. to use artificial substances to improve their bodies. Appalling! Where would they get an idea like that?

On its face, the baseball steroid scandal is simple. Athletes who break the rules to win are cheaters. But ask why we have the rules in the first place, and you have to confront a basic irony. We decry performance-enhanced sports. Yet we live performance-enhanced lives. …

I’ve acknowledged before that I’m not the biggest sports fan in the world, so perhaps this is a controversy that I can never really understand deep down. Or maybe my non-sports-fan-ness gives me exactly the outsider perspective needed to understand it.

OK, probably not. But anyway, enjoy. Now, I’m going to go megadose on caffeine to enhance my performance today.