Steroid use by athletes has received a lot of media attention lately as a result of the Marion Jones case and Senator Mitchell’s report on major league baseball. As a fan, a father and someone who counsels athletes, the extent of the steroid use is rather upsetting since it destroys our adoration for our sports heroes. It also promotes the idea that cheating is somehow okay which sets a terrible example for all of us.
When a celebrity, an athlete or a politician gets caught breaking the law it causes many people to lose faith in their idols and in mankind. As a society, we can certainly benefit from having role models who set good examples and who give back in a positive way to our community. It appears that some athletes need a different set of rules and regulations to discourage them from using steroids and other banned and dangerous substances in order to enhance their performance.
In my mind, where team sports are concerned, there is a rather simple solution to this problem. First, testing methods need to be refined and perfected. This may take some time, but I believe scientists will be able to keep up with the abusers and will be able to develop accurate ways of detecting banned substances. Second, policies which penalize whole teams need to be put in place and enforced. In other words, if one player is caught using a banned substance, his or her teammates, managers and coaches will also be fined and punished.
I believe that peer pressure and loyalty to teammates will discourage athletes from cheating via steroid use in the future. If whole teams will suffer as a result of one person’s rule violations, I think that steroid use will be diminished significantly. Most athletes do not want to be rejected and disdained by their teammates. Furthermore, if penalties include a ban from post-season play, athletes, coaches managers and owners will behave in a more responsible manner.
Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a Psychotherapist in River Edge, NJ and the Founder of www.StayInTheZone.com