"Alex Rodriguez admits to steroid use."
Yet another major headline from the professional sporting world. Yet another news cycle spent talking about the use of performance enhancing drugs instead of the real issues that ail our country. But let's be honest. Do we really even care anymore?
After all, we are talking about the business of entertaining masses? The "purity of sport" argument has long since passed (at least in the professional arena) and now, all we are left with are large corporate machines that only care about selling tickets, driving advertising revenue, and presenting the allure of exclusivity.
Sure the athletes need training and talent, but if a technology exists that can make you better at what you do, then why wouldn't you use it?
If your goal is to be the strongest, fastest, most home run hitting dude in the world then why wouldn't you find every tool known to man to make that a reality.
After all, the steroids didn't make him a great ball player, they just amplified the skills he already had. I could take all the steroids in the world but if you put me at the plate and throw me a 90mph fast ball, the only thing I'm going to do is get the hell out of the way.
These athletes already have such an advantage in training, equipment, medical care, etc that the concept of restricting their access to a performance enhancing drug is like telling a diabetic that they can use insulin but not the pump that automatically regulates its flow into the body.
We let these athletes use injections to limit swelling and speed up the recovery process, even in the middle of a game. They study themselves in labs to focus on heart rates, breathing, and perfecting their techniques. Peak performance is presented as the only acceptable outcome and then we have the audacity to get mad when someone finds a shortcut to better performance.
How hypocritical of all of us. Which among you is not looking for an advantage to do better in this game called life right now? We have become a society of cheaters, and as much as we want to pretend that we're all goody two-shoes and living a perfect life, we are all guilty of looking for shortcuts at one point or another. We actually glorify it in business, politics and education, but god forbid we see it in sports.
In a world where genetic modification is on its way to becoming the norm, are we really going to sit and scream at the TV because a guy gave into the temptation to do everything possible to become the god that we all propped him up to be?
At the very least, we should be willing to be honest with ourselves about the hypocrisy of all of it.
Imagine if we told Hollywood actors that they were no longer allowed to be in another movie if they have had undergone plastic surgery. Or what if we told all the magazine publishers that they are no longer allowed to Photoshop the images that they use inside of their publications.
Maybe next we'll try to tell college kids who take Adderall that their test scores are invalid or tell the pregnant mother that she has to suffer through the pain of child birth because the epidural would artificially dull the pain. I know, let's tell the banks that they can no longer lend money to anyone who doesn't already have the same amount sitting in the bank as collateral. That way no one can gain an unfair financial advantage in the world.
It would be absurd to present any of these arguments on a massive scale and you might even get laughed off the map for doing so, but every one of these things is an artificial enhancement to our ability to perform. Not all narcotics but each of them important drugs on which our society is wholly dependent.
We love drugs. Especially the ones we're not allowed to have.
We love the erotic drugs of pornography and hedonism, and we spend more money on legal drugs (coffee, cigarettes and prescriptions etc.) than any other country on the planet. We have statewide battles to legalize drugs from plants that grow naturally all around us and everywhere you look, people are gorging on something that is intended to either make them perform better or at the very least, feel better about themselves.
We live in a world where superficial is really all that matters to most of us, so why should we get upset when someone skirts the system to bring the best version of themselves to the surface?
Aren't we all addicts of something? Whether it's technology, relationships, food, alcohol, or any of the other things we rely on to distract us from ourselves. We love it when our performance is enhanced. We love things that make us faster and allow us to do more with less.
Isn't that the holy grail of life? Business? To gain a competitive advantage? To find something to set yourself apart from everyone else? Something that makes you better, more appealing and ultimately gives you some level of power over others.
Why then do we all pretend to be so outraged when we find out that one of our heroes is just like us? That he too is human and that in spite of everything we made him out to be, he turned out to be just another man.
Is it that we are disappointed to find out that even our heroes are fallible?
Are we incapable of admitting to ourselves that when we turn on the TV to watch a professional sporting event, we are tuning into the modern day version of the Roman Coliseum? Are we scared to admit that we have an unhealthy dependence on this drug called entertainment?
Furthermore, if we're going to keep living with this societal addiction, then why not give in and let it be the best of all addictions? Why not lift the ban and watch someone hit a 700 foot home run? Why not let them run faster, jump higher, hit each other harder and score more points? Wouldn't that be ultimately more entertaining?
So I say go ahead, show me your surgically modified, genetically altered, steroid injected, best version of yourself. Why not hide the portions of you that are real and only show the world the parts that you make perfect for public consumption. After all, it seems the cool kids are already doing it.
And if we're all going to pretend to be better than we actually are, then why shouldn't everyone else have the same opportunity? Even a professional athlete.