Essay on Steroids Use in Sports
Along time ago when an athlete, of any age, had an incredible talent to play a sport, no one would have suspected that the person may be taking illegal chemicals to boost their performance. Now, on the other hand, many people are beginning to raise an eye brow about the true talent of many athletes. With so much in the news about different athletes, both young and old, using illegal anabolic steroids to help their performance it is hard to say who has true talent and who is just plain cheating.
In World War II, anabolic steroids had been given to Hitler’s troop to increase their aggression. The illegal use of these drugs to enhance athletic ability has been prevalent since the fifties. The Russians were the first athletes to use anabolic steroids in official competitions in the 1960’s in the Olympic Games (Sturmi, 281).
Anabolic and androgenic steroids are the synthetic derivatives of the naturally occurring male anabolic hormone testosterone. Both anabolic and androgenic have origins from Greek: anabolic meaning “to build” and androgenic meaning “to masculinizing” (Narducci 288). Testosterone’s natural androgenic consequences and effects trigger the maturing of the male reproductive system in puberty, comprising the growth of body hair and the deepening of the voice. The hormone’s anabolic effect helps the development of muscles. Although there are many types of steroids with varying degrees of anabolic and androgenic properties, it’s the anabolic property that lures athletes, primarily to increase muscle mass and strength (Narducci 295).
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Steroid use is beginning to become a common thing for professional athletes. Any sport where speed and size is needed steroids can be a great advantage to these athletes. Recently, the media has opened the public’s eye to the steroid abuse in major league baseball. David Wells, pitcher for the New York Yankees, claims that up to 40 percent of major leaguers use steroids and that the drugs are readily available in baseball clubhouses (Seattle Times). The Seattle Times also quoted Wells saying that, “As of right now, I’d estimate 25 to 40 percent of major leaguers are juiced. But that number’s rising fast.”
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Ken Caminiti admitted to taking steroids while playing with the San Diego Padres. Caminiti stated that up to half of the league uses illegal substances (Washington Post). Another former player, Jose Canseco said that he believed over 85% of major league ball players use anabolic steroids (Washington Post).
It’s not only the baseball player or weightlifter or sprinter who may be using anabolic steroids. Over the years the drugs have spread from the weight lifter to bodybuilders to elite athletes to high school students. Scott reported that 6.6% of male high school seniors use steroids or have used them in the past (198). Of the users a large majority had begun to take steroids before they were 17 years old. The primary reason given that these people take steroids was to improve athletic performance (Scott, 203).
The pressures of performing well on the field in high school often drive many youngsters to using steroids. Many of these young athletes believe if they use the drugs and perform well that they may receive a college scholarship and even into professional sports (Terney, 99). In 22% of anabolic steroid users the primary reason for participating in school sponsored sports was to earn a college scholarship (Terney, 103). Those who participate in sports in order to get a scholarship or get into professional sports may be more willing to compromise themselves and try these illegal drugs. The pressure to win placed on these athletes by parents, coaches, and friends may also influence their decision to use steroids (Terney, 103).
Along with taking these illegal anabolic steroids come many health hazards. Psychological effects such as erratic mood swings, irrational behavior, increased aggressiveness, irritability, depression, and a dependency for the drugs are just few that take place (Narducci, 290). Among the physical adverse effects to occur, acne is the most prevalent, especially among young users. Anabolic steroids may also affect normal liver function, causing jaundice to occur. Athletes may also experience injuries to their joints and tendons due to lack of strength in these areas and the rapid increase in strength by the muscle (Narducci, 291). Steroids also increase the risk of heart disease and increase the chance of liver cancer. Males may develop gynecomastia, growing female breasts and experience shrinkage of the testicles (Narducci, 292).
According to Terney steroid use by adolescent has been shown to halt growth prematurely. The steroids can close the growth centers in these young people’s bones and will not allow them to reopen (105). The young athlete in turn ends up being much shorter than they were actually supposed to be.
Many professional sports committees have begun to take action against the abuse of steroids and all other drugs. Many agencies such as the NFL have taken steps to test athletes for steroid use (Seattle Times). Although tests are performed on these athletes, there are ways of getting around them. Many of the athletes are not tested year-round, so many use steroids in the off-season to give them a boost over others (Seattle Times).
The ATLAS Program ha been started in Oregon to try and prevent young student from using steroids. ATLAS stands for Adolescents Training and Learning to Avoid Steroids and consists of 50-minute classroom sessions led by coaches and counselors (Scott, 203). The program is mainly focused on the athletes of the participating high schools and so far has had a major impact (Scott, 203).
With the size of today’s athletes constantly growing, so will the use of anabolic steroids. Whether different athletes use them to gain advancement over others or just use them to keep up, steroid use in all sports is on the increase. This trend is not only danger to their bodies, but is also dangerous those around them.
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In the world of sports it is not rare to see athletes give their heart and soul for the love of the game. From sunrise to sundown they practice everyday to perfect their game.
Then there are those who take an alternative route. Now athletes are taking performance enhancers such as creatine, androstenedione and worst of all, anabolic steroids.
Steroids are chemicals that act like hormones (substances in your body that regulate bodily functions). Anabolic steroids are the ones that are abused to build muscle mass or to make your workout longer. They are chemicals of artificial testosterone, which is a male hormone. With higher testosterone you can have more physique and body hair and a deeper voice.
It mainly started in the 1950’s when some athletes were juicing up for training purposes but now you will find all sorts of athletes using this drug. From high school to professional sports a lot of athletes are using steroids. Even though it is illegal there are over one million steroid users. Five percent of male and two percent of female high school students are using steroids. So that would be equal to 375 thousand males and 175 thousand females.
Why take steroids if you already know that it is not good for you? Most of the steroid users are injecting for better performance and strength for their sports, but, other users are simply juicing to build more muscle mass or to look better, physically.
Inside their bodies they are actually ruining themselves. Taking steroids is a big threat to your health. You could have severe acne, genital changes, water retention, and yellowing eyes and skin. Its not only your appearance that could be at risk but you can also get other health problems. There are coronary artery diseases, ligament injuries, high blood pressure, changes in your cholesterol level, sterility, and liver disease. For males you can get breast development, kidney disease, headaches, muscle cramps, abdominal pains, and bone pains. For females you could get male patterned baldness, smaller breasts, deeper voices, hairy bodies and menstrual irregularities. What I don’t understand is why some take steroids to look better. Would you be attracted to a woman who is just like one of the guys, literally? And girls, would you want someone who has yellow skin with acne all over his face? I know I wouldn’t.
Physical problems are just the first step, steroids also give you psychological problems. This would be known as ‘roid rage. When the user gets very angry and they could possibly swing punches aggressively at anyone within striking distance. The other mental problem is addiction. Even though the user has an already built body he or she thinks that steroids are still necessary to use so they can perform better. Some users also experience depression during parts of the cycles when taking the drug.
Anabolic steroids are illegal and are sold over the black market and there are different kinds. To name some there are Erythropoietin, stimulants, clenbuterol and other drugs that are marketed as steroid alternatives. Without a prescription steroids are illegally sold.
Besides steroids there are other performance enhancers that can be bought over the counter. They are androstenedione and creatine. These also increase your hormones just like the anabolic steroids.
They way they think andro works is your body converts it into testosterone. If the theory is true then andro would be just like regular anabolic steroids. There have been a few studies of its safety and effectiveness but most studies have been about creatine. An amino acid supplement which will make you train longer and harder.
We are for sure that anabolic steroids are bad for you because it has been proven. I believe that if creatine and andro are made and used for the same purpose I don’t see how it could be any different from steroids accept that it might not be as harmful, but if taken in a large amount wouldn’t it have the same effects? Even though some of these effects are good, is it worth it to go through the bad effects that are more permanent? So for love of the game, would you please keep it clean?
Filed Under: Drugs, Social Issues