Sports fans should not judge athletes based on steroid use

The NBA is dealing with the Tim Donaghy gambling scandal, and the NFL is being dogged by Michael Vick. What is Major League Baseball dealing with? It’s still steroids.Baseball players may seem larger than life on the field, but they’re still just people off of it. We shouldn’t be so quick to attack them whenever controversy arises.

I’m sure every Texas Rangers fan remembers former slugger Rafael Palmeiro wagging his finger at Congress while stating, under oath, that he had never done steroids.

Palmeiro was suspended five months later for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

President Bush even discussed the issue in his 2004 State of the Union Address.

“The use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids in baseball, football and other sports is dangerous and it sends the wrong message,” he said. That message being there are shortcuts to accomplishment, and performance is more important than character.

Steroids are bad for your body, but so is alcohol abuse. It’s not so much the steroids that have a negative effect; it’s the constant use and abuse of them that breaks down your body, much like alcohol affects your liver. If you don’t want to drink alcohol then you don’t have to; it’s a matter of personal choice. You aren’t required to use steroids to play baseball.

So if athletes decide to put strange substances into their body to enhance their performance, isn’t that their own business? Should we outlaw Viagra too?

If we had been willing to realize that this issue isn’t worth all the trouble, then we might have been able to enjoy watching Barry Bonds break the all-time home run record this summer.

Instead, we watched as one of the most hallowed records in professional sports fell in a shroud of controversy.

Sure he may have gained some weight since the 1999 season, and his home run totals have spiked a little bit. What everyone seems to forget here is that Bonds won three MVP awards in the early 1990s, and didn’t become a great player overnight. He was a skinny kid in his early years, so could it be that he just put on some weight with age?

His home run totals from 2000-2004 average out to about 46 per season, excluding the record breaking 73 bombs he hit in 2001.

That’s a staggering total, but not a huge jump considering he averaged 36 per season during the 1990s.

His walk totals have always been moderately higher than his strikeout totals as well since his first MVP in 1990, which usually signifies a keen batting eye at the plate.

Another thing people forget is this is the same Barry Bonds that we watched break the single season home run record in 2001. America needed something to cheer for in the wake up Sept. 11, and there he was swinging away at history.

If the players are hypocrites for using steroids to enhance their performance, what does that make the fans egging them on and demanding perfection from them?

Last time I checked, Bonds still hadn’t been found guilty of using steroids.

Roger Clemens has managed to escape the steroid controversy even though his production spiked in his 40s, so why does everybody point to Bonds?

There have been issues in baseball as far back as 1919, when eight members of the Chicago White Sox were banned for intentionally throwing games in the World Series in what came to be known as the “Black Sox” scandal. The incident served as inspiration for Kevin Costner’s movie “Field of Dreams” in 1989.

When Ty Cobb played in the early 20th century, he was known to sharpen the spikes on his cleats in front of opposing teams, so there would be an intimidation factor whenever he slid in to a base feet first. How long would he have lasted in today’s game where umpires have the right to eject players at the first sign of bad blood between teams?

The Hall of Fame is a place to celebrate players who made notable achievements in baseball, not for notable achievements in humanity.

Ditto for Major League Baseball’s new home run king, Barry Bonds.

Nathan Bass is a junior news-editorial journalism major from Tomball.