Integrity Matters
May 5, 2004

Teen steroid issue goes beyond testing

Question: (E-112)

Dear Jim:

High schools are now the target of legislation, sponsored by California State Senator, Jackie Speier, Democrat-San Francisco, addressing the need for the testing for steroid use and performance-enhancing drug abuse. What does this situation say about the integrity of high school coaching?


Growing up in the Midwest in the 1950s, when my father asked me to do chores he'd remind me that a diligent effort was the best pathway to rewards and recognition. He seemed to know that like many young people, I too, really had hoped to find success (in this case, a few dollars of my allowance) ahead of completing chores.

But you really cannot find success before work in real life.

Early in life it became clear to me, and lots of other people, that there are no legitimate shortcuts to quality, integrity, relationships or world-class performance.
Our society has often sought and accepted easy answers to complex questions, offered superficial responses to heartfelt needs and turned to performance-enhancing drugs instead of rigorous training.

Phrases that became bumper sticker, culture-confirming philosophies include: "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing;" "Those who die with the most toys win," "Nice guys finish last" and "It's not what you know, but who you know."

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has admitted using steroids during his body-building career. Today he says it's incumbent on parents, coaches and peers to talk with young people about the best ways to become a star athlete.

Today, society knows the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs, Schwarzenegger says the best way to reach the top is hard work, exercise and a balanced lifestyle. In fact, through a spokeswoman, he said that if he knew then what he knows today, he would never have used steroids.

Please be aware that across the United States, high schools are struggling with steroid abuse and cannot afford to install costly tests that detect the illegal bodybuilding (really body-destroying) drugs.

But the issue is not testing. The issue is a society that wants children to perform so agents, parents, owners and investors can prosper on the "raw meat" they seem willing to sacrifice at the altar of celebrity, big bucks and short-lived glory.

When the pressure to win permeates children's sports, we have lost our moral compass and can claim little progress since ancient times, when gladiators fought to death to entertain the rich and powerful.

Parents, coaches, teachers, agents, owners: Please, leave our young people better than you find them. Integrity is what we need to provide.

They need it, now. Laws, however well intentioned, will never take the place of responsible adult leadership.

Home Page | About Us | Ask Bracher | Services | Resources | Contact Us

©Bracher Center for Integrity in Leadership. All Rights Reserved.
1400 Munras Avenue ~ Monterey, California 93940