Russell W. Shurts

Steroids

25 posts in this topic

Anyone who follows baseball knows that the sport is in the throes of a major scandal caused by a number of current and former stars acknowledging they had used steroids in order to improve their performance. These admissions have cast a cloud of suspicion over the entire sport.

I would be interested in member reactions to the following questions regarding the use of steroids by professional baseball players:

Should players use steroids to enhance their performance?

Should players be legally allowed to use steroids?

What should the owners of professional baseball teams do about players using steroids?

What would your answer be to the previous three questions, if you knew there were NO adverse health effects to using steroids?

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Should players use steroids to enhance their performance?

Only if there are not adverse health effect to using them.

Should players be legally allowed to use steroids?

Yes, although leagues can make it part of their contracts to disallow, if they so choose.

What should the owners of professional baseball teams do about players using steroids?

Conduct health studies of steroids, and if it is shown that they have bad enough negative side effects (that affect one's health), they should put it in the contract of each team/player that they are forbidden from using steroids and will be tested for them regularly.

What would your answer be to the previous three questions, if you knew there were NO adverse health effects to using steroids?

Heh, it should be evident, but if there are no negatives, I would view them as being no different from a particularly good gym shoe. Use it!

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Should players use steroids to enhance their performance?

Should players use weight training, diet supplements, and custom training programs to enhance their performance? I say yes, because I would like to see the best players possible, and their goals are likely similar--to be their best. Androgen use, when supervised by a doctor, can be a healthy activity that improves performance, just like the above. However, players should not cheat, so they shouldn't use steroids in a league which disallows them.

Should players be legally allowed to use steroids?

Of course, it's a peaceful activity.

What should the owners of professional baseball teams do about players using steroids?

They should decide whether they want steroids in their leagues or not. Obviously, the owners want the benefits, which is why they didn't test and turned a blind eye while some famous players were shattering records. Since we've had President Bush use his State of the Union address to condemn steroids, we've seen increased penalties and the introduction of testing to the MLB.

I think the whole issue of banning steroids is a joke, since it is impossible to stop cheaters. An organic chemist with a penchant for endocrinology can make probably thousands of undetectable designer steroids with a few simple tweaks, which means there will always be users. I don't see why the leagues don't level the playing field, and allow all of those who want to be safe under doctor supervision to use performance enhancers cautiously.

What would your answer be to the previous three questions, if you knew there were NO adverse health effects to using steroids?

There aren't, when used sanely, nearly every factor can be controlled.

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Should players use weight training, diet supplements, and custom training programs to enhance their performance? I say yes, because I would like to see the best players possible, and their goals are likely similar--to be their best

I would like to broaden this a bit. What about bionics? Bionic leg enhancements to run faster; bionic arm enhancements to throw harder; bionic eye enhancements for telescopic vision. Or, what about genetic enhacements, say, to grow 8 ft. tall basketball players?

(There was an ill-fated TV show last year that only lasted for four episodes, so I must have been the only one who loved it. :o The name of the show was Century City, and the setting was a law firm in the year 2030. What I loved about the show is that it combined legal and moral issues with future science and technology, ethical and law principles applied to totally new circumstances. Some of the circumstances were a bit strange -- a remote rape through implanted nanotechnology -- but fascinating nonetheless. Anyway, one episode centered around a young baseball player who had expected to be a first-round pick, but was not so chosen when it was discovered he had a bionic eye. As I recall the episode, the player lost his real eye in an accident, and when the bionic replacement was made, he could have chosen to have greatly enhanced vision. But, instead, the player opted for almost normal vision, I suppose because true bionic enhancements would not be permitted in the game. The team owners kept bionics out because they thought it would ruin baseball.)

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I think anything, bionics, steroids, and DNA manipulation included, that is relatively safe (or at least the players know the risks) should be allowed. I'd personally love to see a basketball player be able to jump to the ceiling, or take off from half-court on his way in for a jam. I love seeing baseball players knock shot after another out of the stadium. And I'd love to see a Quarterback throw a 90-yard bomb to a wide reciever who is streaking down the field at sub-4.0 per 40 yards speed and literally jump higher than his defender is tall to make a circus catch in the end zone. If these become possible, what's wrong with having them? Nothing. The people that want to keep sports "natural" have the same general thinking as the environmentalists who want to keep Earth "pure" and "untouched" from humans. I wanted to start a thread on just this subject, but figured most Objectivists might be too "intellectual" to be interested in it. I'm glad at least to a certain extent I was wrong. :o

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I agree with Rational_One. Anything should be permissible so long as it does not adversely affect the player's health or life. Once you permit SHOES, it would be hypocracy to disallow things on the basis that they are "not natural."

I remember a commercial from a while back that was touting the benefits of a sports drink in a very tongue-in-cheek way: it presented the future of basketball with moving baskets, several stories up in the sky, as a consequence of the use of said sports drink. Funny stuff, but I think if progress is truly achieved, then it's not a half-bad idea.

Personally, I've come to see the ideal sports as being a crucible to encourage developments of science. Racing should yield car technologies. Physical sports should yield developments of exercise or medical science, etc. The rules of a sport should be set to ENCOURAGE, not discourage developments.

Can you tell I'm not a NASCAR fan? :o

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I agree with Rational_One. Anything should be permissible so long as it does not adversely affect the player's health or life. Once you permit SHOES, it would be hypocracy to disallow things on the basis that they are "not natural."

Just to make this explicit, and to test if you hold what you say as a matter of principle, then are you fine with the bionic arm that I mentioned, one which, say, for a baseball pitcher, allows him to throw the ball 50% faster than any human being not so equipped bionically? And, if you do not object to that, then what if the bionic arm contains a molecular computer receiving feedback from a sensing device, such that not only is the baseball delivered at a 50% increase in speed, but the computations and controls permit the ball to be automatically delivered precisely to within a fraction of a millimeter of whatever is ideal for striking out the batter. More generally, since you disavow the notion of "natural" in sports, is there any point that could be reached for which you would acknowledge that the player himself is no longer functioning qua human being in a "natural" sense? Does your principle not acknowledge that a sport which does not depend on the strength of will of the player, on his intelligence and on his training, on his abilities and skills that are honed through his own efforts, that such a sport is so "not natural" that it should no longer be consider a sport representative of a personal human endeavor?

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Ah, very good questions.

Might I answer with a question? What is the purpose of sport?

You mentioned "personal human endevor" as (from what I gather) a possible purpose of sport. I mentioned the development of new technology as another. (technology, in this context, includes training methods)

Specifically, the kind of technology I am looking for is the kind that is useful

in a wider application. If a bionic arm made the pitcher throw faster without side effects, and was fully functional as an arm, then I would support it. If it made the arm useless for anything except throwing, then I would not support it. The people involved in sports have to remain human beings.

I suppose that if the arms were interchangable with useful ones, someone could make a case for having an "enhanced league," (that allowed cannon-arms) but it wouldn't be of as much personal interest to me. Drag racing is divided up into classes and leagues much like this.

As for the "throwing computer," I would say that so long as it did not interfere with the pitcher's functioning qua human being (outside of baseball, I mean), it would also be fine in my book.

Now, to deal with technologies that DO interfere with functioning qua human being: an interesting approach to dealing with these is not to outlaw them (which is a crude means, IMO), but instead to change the rules so that the players are forced to face the weakness of said technology. If a "super-shoe" is invented that gets too uncomfortable after 10 minutes of use, make the players play for longer than 10 minutes, etc.

Thank you for the questions, Stephen. They've really gotten me thinking!

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Ah, very good questions.

Might I answer with a question? What is the purpose of sport?

I'm sure that sport serves many purposes, but I suspect that the most fundamental purpose it serves for the fan is to root for, enjoy, and admire excellence in both body and mind. The challenge in sport competition lies in the athlete honing the physical and mental skills required for him to excel in the action and thought that his sport requires, and to beat the competition. It is striving for and achieving human excellence which we acknowledge and celebrate by becoming a sports fan.

Now, with that said, I am the last person in the world that would ever belittle technology. Perhaps certain sports can evolve and spin off a technology-laden competition that incorporates all sorts of human physical enhancements. I cannot predict what might occur, nor would I want to limit the possibilities. But note that the marathon continues to run after thousands of years, despite the current existence of a multiplicity of means for humans to mechanically propel themselves. Even if we were to implant wheels for feet on humans, and a biological motor to propel, I think that excellence of personal conditioning and skill for the traditional marathon, will live on.

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Not much I can add to that. I would say that the issue of what constitutes a greater "sport," between one that is without a given technology and one that is with it, is a highly personal judgment call, and answers will vary person to person and technology to technology.

It reminds me of something that comes up on hot rodding message boards: "What modifications can be done to a car and still have it be considered a 'daily driver?'" Each person has to answer that question for himself, as each person might have more or less patience for the side effects of a given modification.

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I'm surprised the issue of bad influence to minors hasn't been brought up. I'm not saying that I support laws against steroids, but at least I can respect the intentions of our politicians: to protect children. It isn't a stretch to say that kids in middle and high school would be more willing to destroy their bodies and minds with drugs if they found out their heroes were using them. Whatever your legal stance is, the ethical side should be clear: these guys are role-models and what they're doing (or did) is reprehensible.

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I'm surprised the issue of bad influence to minors hasn't been brought up. I'm not saying that I support laws against steroids, but at least I can respect the intentions of our politicians: to protect children. It isn't a stretch to say that kids in middle and high school would be more willing to destroy their bodies and minds with drugs if they found out their heroes were using them. Whatever your legal stance is, the ethical side should be clear: these guys are role-models and what they're doing (or did) is reprehensible.

Yeah but how is somthing that should be considered positive, using steroids to gain a competitive advantage and enhance entertainment in the game, be considered a "bad influence to minors"? I and many others here defended the rational use of steroids, so that implicitly assumed that even for minors it would be a good thing if done rationally, not a "bad influence".

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I and many others here defended the rational use of steroids, so that implicitly assumed that even for minors it would be a good thing if done rationally, not a "bad influence".

I must have missed your defense of the "rational use of steroids." What are the essential arguments of your defense?

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I'm surprised the issue of bad influence to minors hasn't been brought up. I'm not saying that I support laws against steroids, but at least I can respect the intentions of our politicians: to protect children.

I thought protecting the rights of children was a politician's proper concern and protecting their health was their parents' responsibility.

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I must have missed your defense of the "rational use of steroids." What are the essential arguments of your defense?

That they can be used to improve a persons physical abilities in a given sport or activity assuming he understands any associated health risks.

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I thought protecting the rights of children was a politician's proper concern and protecting their health was their parents' responsibility.

I agree, but stopping adults from doing drugs for the sake of children is at least more respectable than stopping them for the sake of abdicating them of the responsibility for their own actions (which I think is what most other drug laws do).

That they can be used to improve a persons physical abilities in a given sport or activity assuming he understands any associated health risks.

I'm not a doctor, but I don't think anything could possibly be worth heart failure, depression, aggression, hallucinations, paranoia, and adopting the characteristics of the opposite sex. I am apalled that anyone would consider encouraging minors to take such a drug anything other than a moral crime.

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I'm not a doctor, but I don't think anything could possibly be worth heart failure, depression, aggression, hallucinations, paranoia, and adopting the characteristics of the opposite sex. I am apalled that anyone would consider encouraging minors to take such a drug anything other than a moral crime.

Someone else in this thread has pointed out that most of these things that you allege that steroids do probably is not true if properly administered. But if what you say if actually true, which I doubt, then to encourage minors, or anyone else for that matter, to use them would then be a "moral crime" as you termed it. Also sanctioning the use of something for a consenting adult does not imply encouraging minors, or anyone else, to use that something.

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Someone else in this thread has pointed out that most of these things that you allege that steroids do probably is not true if properly administered.

I'm not going to argue with you about a commonly known fact.

But if what you say if actually true, which I doubt, then to encourage minors, or anyone else for that matter, to use them would then be a "moral crime" as you termed it.
Off topic here, but is this a valid concept?

Why do you people have a problem with that term? Is it not clear what I mean?

Also sanctioning the use of something for a consenting adult does not imply encouraging minors, or anyone else, to use that something.

It is not an active attempt to get minors to use the drug - that definitely should be illegal - and that is why I don't call it a legal crime. But when you position yourself as a role-model for youngsters, you better realize the responsibility that comes with it.

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But when you position yourself as a role-model for youngsters, you better realize the responsibility that comes with it.

Just because a person chooses a certain profession in which to make his living, in this case say as baseball player, doesn't imply they are assuming the role of being a "role-model" for anybody. That's why I liked Charles Barkley so much when I was younger because he was a tough-guy who proudly proclaimed he wasn't anybody's "role-model". And by the way, just because it's supposedly "common knowledge" that steroids are harmful, doesn't necassarily make it true. My best guess is it's effects are over-exagurated by people that mindlessly want to keep everything "natural". That's not to deny of course that there is some negative effects, that is true of just about anything, but it should be up to the individual to choose to use steroids or not if he judges that the benefits outweigh the risks. Not congress or anyone else.

I don't know if anyone caught any of the hearings on this yesterday or not, but it reminded me of scenes straight out of AS, but in this case the people were too afraid or guilt-ridden to defend their actions. It was a sad day for this country that congress was actually trying to control a private business (baseball) and the actions of its employees (ball players) on national T.V. They did this unabashadly, as if they had a right too or as if this was actually the purpose of congress. That is what is really sickening, not how it affects some kids. "But it's for the children," is something I had hoped I would never hear from an Objectivist. I actually heard a congressman (I forget which one) actually state that the whole point of the hearings was to embarass the players into "acting in a socialy responsible manner". It's a disgrace to our constitution that a congressman would make such a statement or a congressional hearing can have such a stated purpose.

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Off topic here, but is this a valid concept?

It's not a concept, it is two concepts put together. :excl: Acting immorally could be said to be a moral crime, I suppose, if it fulfils the definition of "crime", i.e. it's against the law.

I would have used the phrase "criminal immorality", it's more exact. However, in this case it's nonsensical; unless someone is FORCING minors to take steroids no criminality should be involved. Most drugs have side effects. This is why you usually want to have them administered by a trained professional.

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It's not a concept, it is two concepts put together.  :excl:  Acting immorally could be said to be a moral crime, I suppose, if it fulfils the definition of "crime", i.e. it's against the law.

I would have used the phrase "criminal immorality", it's more exact.  However, in this case it's nonsensical; unless someone is FORCING minors to take steroids no criminality should be involved.

Many words have more than one meaning, and "crime" is not limited to that which is "against the law." Another related use of "crime" is as a particularly wrong or evil act, which is not necessarily forbidden by law. So "moral crime" is a perfectly valid term, one which express a rather grave infraction of morality.

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Many words have more than one meaning, and "crime" is not limited to that which is "against the law." Another related use of "crime" is as a particularly wrong or evil act, which is not necessarily forbidden by law. So "moral crime" is a perfectly valid term, one which express a rather grave infraction of morality.

Oh. When I looked it up in the dictionary (I try to make sure I'm not using a spurious definition and that's the only way I know to tell) all four of the listed definitions included as a determining aspect the words "illegal" or "against the law".

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Many words have more than one meaning, and "crime" is not limited to that which is "against the law." Another related use of "crime" is as a particularly wrong or evil act, which is not necessarily forbidden by law. So "moral crime" is a perfectly valid term, one which express a rather grave infraction of morality.

Oh. When I looked it up in the dictionary (I try to make sure I'm not using a spurious definition and that's the only way I know to tell) all four of the listed definitions included as a determining aspect the words "illegal" or "against the law".

You might want to consider a new dictionary. :excl:

Oxford English Dictionary: "2. a. More generally: An evil or injurious act; an offence, a sin; esp. of a grave character."

It really is quite common usage in that sense. As to "moral crime," I think the phrase beautifully captures a most serious transgression of morality.

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I thought protecting the rights of children was a politician's proper concern and protecting their health was their parents' responsibility.
I agree, but stopping adults from doing drugs for the sake of children is at least more respectable than stopping them for the sake of abdicating them of the responsibility for their own actions (which I think is what most other drug laws do).

I don't think it is respectable at all -- especially considering how many rights violations from the welfare state, to public education, to socialized medicine, to censorship have been justified on the grounds of protecting children.

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