Probably the biggest thing that’s been talked about for the past few weeks is A-Rod’s admission of Steroids Use back in 2003. Never mind whether it was legal for the list to exist (I believe it wasn’t and was being used to blackmail some of the other stars into sticking by the Baseball Union), the question some places are asking is: Why Care About Steroid Use In The First Place?
How about this for an answer:
America likes to think of itself as an meritocratic nation. Never mind its hatred of working-class types who earn more than the minimum wage and/or believe that they actually deserve more than the minimum wage, Americans (at least those in a nation called the USofA) like to believe that they rose or dropped to where they belonged, and could have done much better if they wanted to.
Sports is probably the most meritocratic institution in our society, and we like to think it so. Unlike anything involving the mind (remember, this is the nation that believes that 99.9% of the scientists are wrong and that there’s no global warming), it’s pretty obvious that the people we see on the playing field (court, diamond, ice rink, track, marathon route, ski slope, pole vault, etc) were in some way superior to us and therefore deserved the stardom placed on them.
Steroids mess with that.
A normal Joe willing to work hard, practice and shoot up Anabolic Steroids can make it over someone who works hard, has talent and tries to make it without Steroids. In other words, it messes up the way we perceive things should be, and throws things out of focus.
A good example is Tony Mandarich. A spectacular player during his years at Michigan State, he proved an absolute bust in Green Bay. One wonders how Green Bay would have done had they chosen Barry Sanders instead (of course, Detroit would have chosen Mandarich and maybe Tony wouldn’t have been known as such a Big Bust. After all, we’re talking about the Football Puddy-Tats, and he would have been yet another high draft that didn’t work out.).
Another example is Barry Bonds. Not because he wouldn’t have made the Hall Of Fame without the stuff (Indeed, quite the opposite); but because his numbers ended up acting abnormally. Instead of dropping slowly, they suddenly bloated up to such a degree that they looked cartoonish. Not only that, but so did HE.
The fact is this: While football may be an exception (in part because of its violence), we expect our athletes to be more fit, smarter on the field, and just plain physically better than us. And we expect them to be young because sports is generally a youngster’s game (golf and bowling are exceptions here). And when something looks very off, it sets up alarms.
And that’s why we care if someone did steroids. Even a few years ago. (heck try twenty-plus years ago, and quitting just as he went pro to disasterous effect).