In the last decade though, drug use in the NFL and the MLB has skyrocketed. These football and baseball players are risking their lives to perform better on the field, almost to the point of commonplace behavior. What message is this sending to the next generation of little guys who aspire to throw touchdown pass after touchdown pass like Brett Favre or to hit homerun after homerun like Mark McGuire?
Drugs are okay if it makes you a better athlete? People will like you more when you are successful, so do whatever you need to do to be a top performer?
It’s hard to place blame on the individual athletes, but it is each person’s choice to put any form of illegal substance into his body. Can the entire pro league be held responsible?
What is professional sports’ role in curbing drug use among young men?
Steroids are the most obvious when thinking of drugs and sports, but lots of players are also abusing prescription drugs, narcotics, stimulants, and alcohol.
Brett Favre was addicted to Vicodin. Cocaine has been linked to many pro baseball players. Even Mickey Mantle is rumored to have been an alcoholic. Think about the beating pro football players take every week for a majority of the year. Between games and practices, and off-season training, the body is put through the ringer. Chronic injuries don’t stop a lot of them from playing.
Should We Care?
Should we care about these people as human beings, or should we view them as employees of professional sports teams and drugs come with the territory? With a job description that includes playing through physical pain, a gruelling schedule, and pressure to perform at nearly impossible levels, do we need to recognize that athletes are not superior beings, they actually need drugs to get through the day?
Idealization Of Athletes
Could our society bear to lose the idealization of athletes? It seems we get much pleasure from watching pro sports and throwing expectations on these people we don’t know. Kids play sports in their neighborhoods, pretending to be the best player at the time. “Be like Mike,” the campaign ad with people emulating Michael Jordan shows how long athletes have been admired.
So what is sports’ role in curbing drug use among young men? Do they have any obligation to help prevent drug use, or to help stop addiction?
Drugs Are Banned
Several drugs are banned from use among players, but that doesn’t necessarily stop them from using, and it certainly doesn’t stop young people from using. Pharmaceutical companies, creating a large portion of the drugs athletes use, are really more liable.
Athletes would not have a drug to abuse if the pharma companies were not manufacturing. The young men who look up to the athletes would not have access to the drugs being used by athletes if the drug makers were not manufacturing, and making drugs so available to the public.
Athletes Using Painkillers
The issue is bigger than pro athletes using painkillers or performance-enhancing drugs. The role sports can play in curbing drug use among young men though is to have a system in place for its employers (the individual athletes.)
Team doctors can administer pills or whatever other substances are necessary for that player at that current time. Whole bottles of OxyContin do not need to be handed out. Players are on-site often enough to get drugs as needed.
What else do you think sports’ role should be in curbing drug use? How can we help the young men, and young women, who are seeing drug use among their heroes?
Photo Credits: Wikipedia