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Steroids and Kids

The release of the Mitchell Report has significant ramifications for the entire sports world including our SportsKids. By understanding the depth of the problem, how it impacts baseball and other major sports, and finally, how these issues trickle down to youth sports, we can begin to understand why this is such a big deal.

Autographed Clemens 16x20 - $242.99 
 

There is no question that the Mitchell report only scratched the surface of how bad this problem is in baseball. From anecdotal evidence and reports from other sources, it seems clear (pun intended) that the use of performance enhancing drugs in all sports is widespread. From cycling to track to football, all sports have been impacted by performance enhancing drugs. While there is no “smoking gun” it is possible that the vast majority of players have used some form of enhancement.

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Coach’s Corner, Continued

 
What does this mean for the records?

All of the records in every sport are flawed in many ways so it makes it difficult to compare over generations. However, it doesn’t mean that we still can’t compare players within each era. Take the home run record which Barry Bonds broke last season. Babe Ruth (714 homers), arguably the greatest all-around player in the game, never played against anybody of color which dramatically limited the competition for him.

Babe Ruth Red Sox 20 x 24 Litho - $76.95 


Hank Aaron (755 homers) is certainly an incredible player, but he is flawed in many ways as well. Aaron had 12,364 at bats during his 23 year Hall of Fame career. Because Ruth spent the first several years as a pitcher and because he walked so much, he had only 8,398 career at bats. If Ruth had the same number of at bats that Aaron had he would have hit 1,051 home runs and none of this would even be a discussion. Furthermore, while there is no evidence that Hank Aaron ever used any performance enhancing drugs, amphetamines, which helped focus and with preparedness for games, were very prevalent in clubhouses during the time that he played.

As for Barry Bonds (762 homers), based on a volume of evidence it seems obvious that he has used some type of performance enhancing drugs thereby equally tainting his accomplishments when compared with Aaron and Ruth. However, each of these players, while flawed in comparisons over time, still excelled against their peers. While Bonds may have taken HGH or other enhancers, so did many other players of his generation and none of them have hit over 700 home runs. While there is evidence performance enhancing drugs have the ability to help, they don’t by themselves make players great.

Many more players have taken drugs and not excelled. The effect varies and the ultimate impact also depends on how hard a player is willing to work. We’ve all seen the video of Roger Clemens working out and Bonds has a great work ethic in the gym. Some players who have been caught taking steroids never made the big leagues. Others never hit more than 12 home runs in a Colorado Rockies season (Neifi Perez). Jason Giambi became an MVP but his brother Jeremy ended up out of baseball. The Canseco brothers have a similar story of overachievement (Jose) and underachievement (Ozzie).

 

What Needs to be Done

Professional sports must do three things: 1) determine what is going to be a violation; 2) dramatically improve testing; and 3) make penalties much more severe

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Coach’s Corner, Continued
 

The first issue is to determine what is “wrong”. There are so many things that are “performance enhancing” in some way that we need to carefully define what should be considered a banned substance. Taking things to the extreme, caffeine, energy drinks, protein shakes, amino acids and other dietary supplements, eating healthy, and working out certainly give people an advantage over others that don’t do those things. Where do we draw the line as to what is an “illegal” vs. a “legal” performance enhancer? This determination should be done on a national level through Congress or a governing body like the USOC. Each individual sport should not be allowed to determine what athletes can use and we need to clearly delineate which substances will be tolerated.

Unfortunately, the cheaters are still way ahead of the good guys and may always be. Currently, the effort to test in all sports has been far too limited. It’s imperative to have blood testing and be much more intrusive in testing procedures. In no way should the players association be blocking any efforts for testing. The body that determines banned substances should also be in charge of establishing and implementing testing procedures.

Finally, the penalties imposed need to be much harsher. The risk/reward is far to slanted in favor of taking drugs. People perceive drugs as giving them the opportunity to play another year of professional sports and earn millions or maybe even break into the big leagues. The benefit of earning a college scholarship or even playing sports in high school may seem like a huge reward when measured against the relatively small risks of getting caught. Because of the potential health risks and the desire for a fair playing field, the penalties need to be a deterrent to anybody even considering using drugs; the penalty for testing positive at any level should be a lifetime ban from competitive sports.
 

 

The Impact on our Youth

The Congressional hearings emphasized the impact on our youth as being the main reason that steroid use is such an important issue. According to an article found on kidshealth.org, steroids and HGH pose significant health risks for unknown and/or nonexistent benefits. The reality is that we just don’t know enough about the potential risks or even about the possible benefits to justify allowing drugs into our kids’ system. Furthermore, most kids wouldn’t properly cycle or administer the drugs, further exacerbating the potential problems. We simply can’t allow our youth to be tantalized by performance enhancers. That means we need to do more to stop drug use on all levels. What’s happened in the past can’t be changed and we can simply evaluate each player based on their performance against their peers. Yet, for the sake of our youth, we can’t allow pervasive drug use to continue. It can only be remedied with greatly enhanced testing and formidable penalties that will act as enough of a deterrent to alter the existing risk/reward balance. Only in this way can we get professional and youth sports back to being the positive diversions they should be.
 

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Monthly
Trivia Test 
 

We’ve got great Trivia games for beginning to master SportsKids – try our “Einstein” Sports Math Game and find the answers to these questions at the bottom.

 

1) A batter’s slugging percentage is the total bases/at bats. During a game, a player grounds out, flies out, homers, and singles. What  is his slugging percentage?

A)      .800

B)      1.200

C)      1.250

D)      1.500

 

2) Earned Run Average is calculated by multiplying the earned runs allowed by 9, then dividing the total by a pitcher’s innings pitched. So, if a pitcher gives up 3 earned runs in 18 innings, what is the ERA?

A)     2.00

B)     3.00

C)     150

D)     1.50

 

3) You decide to race a mile against your friend and you give your friend a two minute head start. Your friend can run a mile in 8 minutes. How much faster do you have to run to win the race?

A)     100%

B)     75%

C)     50%

D)     25% 

 

4) What is the highest score a bowler can have without rolling any strikes?

A)      99

B)      300

C)      190

D)      200

 

There are trivia games in general sports, baseball, football, hockey, basketball and “Sports Math” in three different skill levels. Test your sports skills against kids around the world in the SportsKids Game Section.

 

 

Answers: (1) C  (2) D  (3) D   (4) C

 
Monthly
Sports Poll 
 

1)    In which sport do you feel the highest percentage of athletes use performance enhancing drugs?

-     Baseball

-     Basketball

-     Football

-     Hockey

-     Track & Field
 

2)    What percentage of professional athletes use performance enhancing drugs?

-     Less than 10%

-     Between 10% and 30%

-     Between 30% and 60%

-     More than 60%
 

3)    Given that Ruth never played against anybody of color, Aaron had 4,000 more AB than Ruth and Bonds likely used steroids, who is the true  Home Run champ?

-     Babe Ruth

-     Hank Aaron

-     Barry Bonds
 

Last month’s Poll results: 

1)    Is owning a sports franchise a business or owned in trust for the city?

-     Business – the owner can do what they want (42.67%)

-     Public Trust – there is a duty to try and win (54.67%)
 

2)    Would you want Mark Cuban to own a team in your city?

-    Yes (48.00%)

-     No (52.00%)
 

3)    Do you feel youth league boards run the league fairly?

-     Yes (38.67%)

-     No (61.33%)
 

4)      Do coaches of teams you’re associated with favor their own kids?

-     Yes (68.00%)

  No (32.00%)


Cast your vote on these and other sports polls at
SportsKids.com