Why Athletes Use Steroids
One of the most heated controversies in athletics centers on the use of anabolic steroids. Behind the dispute is the evidence that steroids pose a health hazard. They are linked to the cardiovascular disease, liver disorders, and cancerous tumors. In addition, there is evidence that they cause personality aberrations. Still, an alarming number of athletes are willing to risk their health for the enhanced performance steroids provide-and it is not hard to understand why.
First of all, many athletes are so blinded by the obvious benefits of steroid use that they fail to note their adverse effects. They are so focused on the increased strength, stamina, and size that result from steroid use, that athletes may overlook the abuse their bodies are sustaining-often until it is too late. That is, athletes who are delighting in turning in the best performance of their lives are not likely to think about future harmful effects. This is the same psychology that keeps the nicotine addict smoking three packs a day, until the X-ray shows lung cancer is so advance that nothing can be done.
Some athletes rationalize steroid use another way. They claim that anabolic steroids pose no greater health hazard than participation in such contact sports such as football, boxing, and wrestling. However, these athletes fail to understand that in addition to harming the body, steroids also heighten the danger of contact sports by making the users larger and stronger, thereby increasing their momentum and impact.
Some people think steroid use continues despite the life threatening effects because athletes are just “dumb jocks” who are not smart enough to appreciate the risks. I don’t accept that explanation. Instead, I suspect that steroid use continues partly because most athletes are young, and young people never feel threatened. Part of being young is invulnerable. That is why young people drive too fast, drink too much, and take risks like bungee jumping. They just do not believe that anything can happen to them. The same psychology is at work with athletes. They are young people who feel they will live forever. In addition, athletes assume that because their bodies are so physically conditioned they can withstand more punishment than the average person, so they feel even less at risk by steroid use.
Perhaps the biggest reason athletes use steroids can be explained by the spirit lies at the heart of all athletics: competition. One a handful of athletes enhances their performance artificially, and then others follow in order to stay competitive. Eventually, steroid users dominate a sport, and anyone who wants to compete at the highest level is forced to use steroids or lose out. This fact explains why unscrupulous coaches and trainers who want to win at any cost have contributed to the problem by offering steroids to their players and urging them to use them. Sadly, this practice has even filtered down to the high school level in some cases.
Competition for the thrill of winning is only part of the explanation, however, Big-time athlete means big-time money. As the financial rewards rise in a given sport, so does the pressure to win at any cost. Huge salaries, big bonuses, beautiful cars, girls and incredibly lucrative commercial endorsements all temp athletes to enhance their performances any way they can.
Despite drug testing before competitions and dissemination of information about the danger of anabolic steroids, athletes still use steroids because the pressures to do so are so compelling. The truth is that too many athletes think steroids only hurt the other person, or else they think using steroids is worth the risk.