December 15, 2004
Athletes need integrity
What are baseball superstars like Jason Giambi and Barry
Bonds thinking about when they use performance-enhancing
drugs? Do "home run" records still have integrity?
Money and fame attract many physically gifted athletes.
Their integrity is now being scrutinized because an increasing
number are taking chemical shortcuts to exceptional achievement.
Greed and glory are turning Major League Baseball, in
particular, into a laboratory for amoral scientists and
money-hungry pharmaceutical firms.
The baseball players association, with its private-club
atmosphere, has yet to fully address the problem. Meanwhile,
fans clamor for their superheroes to set new records.
Owners wring their hands, unable to properly discipline
inappropriate drug use, while simultaneously allowing
dollar signs to cloud sound judgment.
Today's ticket buyers demand an exciting show, and
the players have gotten the message. The economic realities
are clear: Professional athletes have decided it's worth
risking infamy and poor health to become famous by setting
records, legally or illegally. And the adoring fans,
with their short-sighted demands for gratification, are
perfectly willing to sacrifice the lives of these gladiators.
Unless or until the playing field is level, without chemical
enhancements, many records could become meaningless.
With the latest reports of improper drug use, more
officials are willing to weigh in on abuse of performance-enhancing
drugs. From the White House to statehouses around the
nation, and now to the Congress, the words are clear:
Performance-enhancing drug abuse is wrong. Let's stop
When will our culture learn this truth? It should be common
knowledge that free markets, including baseball players
and their respective organizations, must regulate themselves
or governments will. Admirable and honest role models are
needed. Certainly, gifted athletes are visible and powerful
examples. Our society needs visible adults to play by constructive,
self-imposed rules and behave appropriately, because integrity