Mark Antony Rossi’s Machine Therapy No. 4

Dream Murder: The Performance Enhancement Nightmare

The use and abuse of illegal recreational drugs is stupid and dangerous. So says a society that seems to tolerate “legal” drugs in athletes striving to reach a goal. This very strange irony suggests drug use is quietly acceptable if imbued with lofty purpose. Maxwell J. Mehlman, one of a crop of bioethics professors who condone nearly every chemical alteration of humanity, wrote an article ridiculing those upset with steroid-addicted athletes as merely offended by “aesthetic distaste.” Notions of fair play, integrity and natural talent are considered old-fashioned by an academic who believes fiberglass poles, aluminum bats and larger tennis racquets are technological drug equivalents, and thus, establishment-approved methods of cheating. If you accept this professor’s logic than all athletes should use performance enhancement drugs in order to guarantee a fair playing environment. What would be the point then? Unethical athletes use stealthy drugs to gain advantage over competitors to carry out a contract, break a record, or measure up to a larger-than-life public relations image.

How did we arrive at this ugly mess? The short answer is discovered in the crass “entertainmentization” of sporting events. Professional sports are no longer an exercise (excuse the pun) in athletic competition but rather a loud colorful entertainment event backed by billions in marketing muscle. You want power stats. They sell power drinks. You want shooting stars. They sell luxury cars. You want athletic prowess. You get a dream murdered by cheaters. Let’s face it, folks, calling performance enhancement anything less than organized cheating is akin to Orwellian newspeak. A clever lie told by drones living in the land of denial. We ought to be deeply ashamed of ourselves for not protesting loud enough against this perversion of honest talent and competition. But that would be difficult since too many parents often excuse their children cheating on exams with internet-test answers, Ritalin-uppers for memory retention and bribery of poorly-paid teaching staff. The awful truth is many parents are too busy protesting the other team’s performance to even care about tainted players hyped on designer go-juice!

In the past three decades, news and entertainment is becoming blurred to what is now called “infotainment.” People question news stories tailored to products and agendas tied to the corporate parents of the news network. The same is beginning to happen with professional sports. Yet there needs to be more investigation and oversight of performance enhancement testing than a few ticked-off sports columnists and a couple of politicians grabbing the camera spotlight. The ticket buyer needs to feel he or she is being robbed of a true sporting experience by liars and drug-addicted cheaters. Until then, the health of athletes abusing arcane substances and the health of sports will continue to decline to dangerous levels. The lowest level reducing sports to merely staged events conducted by junkie performers juggling balls for a big paycheck. I fear more than our general ethics and athletic integrity is at stake. It’s only a matter of time before a steroid-addicted baseball entertainer slips into a “roid-rage” and bashes the head of a heckling fan on national television. We don’t need to spill blood to sell beer.