Term Paper: Conformity Steroids in Baseball

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Conformity: Steroids in Baseball

Steroids have been used in baseball for decades, and little has been done to control them. Many players use steroids because of peer pressure and the pressure to perform. Steroids affect performance, but they can have very harmful effects, as well. They are dangerous if they are used regularly, and they give players an unfair advantage. MLB is trying to control steroid use, but their policy is easy to get around, and players know it. Baseball needs much tougher regulations against steroid use, and they need to suspend or ban players who use steroids. They also need to level the playing field by banning steroids, which give an unfair advantage to players who use them. Only then can MLB really be taken seriously.

Conformity: Steroids in Baseball

The purpose of this paper is to introduce, discuss, and analyze the topic of peer pressure and conformity. Specifically it will discuss baseball players who use steroids to keep up with their peers. Steroid use has come under fire in professional sports teams, and it seems to be extremely prevalent in Major League Baseball (MLB). The use of steroids in baseball is dependent upon peer pressure from other players. It should be stopped by the league, who should create tougher standards for players.

Steroid use in baseball first surfaced in the media around the turn of the 21st century, but many players and others in the know think it actually began much earlier. One writer notes, "Former Phillies pitcher Dickie Noles said possible steroid use was a conversation piece as early as the 1980s. Whispers about Canseco's linkage with the drugs began when he burst on the scene as a 'Bash Brother' with Mark McGwire in the closing years of the 1980s.

However, the players closed ranks and covered for each other, and the media seemed to ignore the evidence.

First, it is important to understand steroids. They have been available since the 1930s, and they are created from male testosterone. They can be taken through injection or as pills, and they are also available in creams, patches, and gels.

Another author notes, "Anabolic steroids, of which there are about 30 types, are used by athletes usually in combination with weight training. They contribute to endurance, greater strength, and bigger muscles, allowing users to recover more quickly from workouts and to train more frequently."

They create an unfair advantage in players who use them when comparing their results and statistics with players who do not use the drugs. They also have many harmful side effects. Author Staudohar continues, "Steroids can cause a variety of maladies, such as heart enlargement and disease, liver tumors which may become cancerous, kidney failure, smaller testicles and infertility, muscle-tendon injuries, skin acne, hair loss, depression, and increased aggression known as roid rage."

Steroids have been banned in MLB since 2002, but they are still used widely by many players, who have ways of avoiding detection. Another writer states, "Random testing for steroids was proposed by the owners in 1994 negotiations but the idea went nowhere. It was overshadowed by economic issues that caused the 1994-95 strike as well as opposition by the union to invasion of players' privacy."

Detection, even after the 2002 regulations, was easy to get around. The author continues, "Because half the players were tested in spring training and the other half during the season, it was easy to circumvent a positive test. Most of the steroids the players were using disappeared from detection with only a couple of weeks of disuse."

Many critics thought the policy was a joke, because players tested in the spring preseason were not tested again, and they could resume use during the regular season without worry.

What started the investigation into steroids was an article in the New York Times newspaper. A writer says, "The New York Times interviewed twenty-five Major League players, executives, and strength coaches in an October 2000 expose that detailed how steroid abuse had become rampant."

One of the most well-known players, Jose Canseco, admitted steroid use and implicated several other players in his book, and in front of a Congressional investigation into steroids in the sport. The author continues, "By his own admission, Canseco has shirked, and hurt people, and lied, and broken a lot of promises, large and small. And used steroids."

Players began to admit to using them, or implicated others in their use, too. He continues, "The whistle on steroid use was blown by the players themselves. Infielder Ken Caminiti admitted in 2002 that he used steroids when he won the 1996 National League Most Valuable Player award."

Many others, like Mark McGuire, who set a new home run record in 1998, at first said they did not use the drugs, but later was implicated in using them.

Why do players use steroids? There are several reasons, and one is the cheating mentality of baseball. Another writer states, "Cheating is generally more common in baseball than in other sports. The phantom double play, doctored balls, corked bats, and stolen signs are ageless features of the game. But jacking up the body through steroids is another matter."

However, major league players are paid generous salaries, and they want to maintain their contracts and stay in the big leagues. Their success depends on their performance, so they are under constant pressure to do well, both by their teammates and their organization. Because of this, they are pressured into using steroids to help improve their performance and make sure they support the team. Most players would take them if they were sure they wouldn't be caught. The author says, "When asked if taking a drug would provide a certain win and no probability of being caught, only two of the athletes said they would not take the drug."

That is because of the pressure to perform well, and the pressure from other athletes who are performing better because of steroids.

Peer pressure can be very hard to overcome, and there is much peer pressure in baseball. For example, a team is playing well, and they could cinch the division playoffs, and even make it to the World Series if the continue to play well. If many members of the team use steroids, they would probably urge the players who don't to give them a try. That is because they want to go to the playoffs and the series, not only for the notoriety, but also for the money. Teams that make it to the playoffs get bonuses, and even more if they go to the series. That is a lot of pressure for players to handle, because their teammates want the extra income. So, they could get the rest of the team involved in steroids to help the team win and move on.

Most players are very competitive, as well, or they wouldn't be playing the game. If someone on their team has a better batting average or better statistics, they could start using steroids to catch up with them and become as good or better than their teammates. That assures them success on the team, but it also helps them competitively, and so, steroids are used in order to increase their performance and their statistics. That is why steroids make baseball statistics unfair today, especially when comparing them with players who set records decades ago. For example, Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs during a season in 1927, and it took until 1961 for Roger Maris to break that record. In 1998, Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa both broke the record again, but later it was implicated they had done it while taking steroids. Because of this, McGuire has never been admitted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. There is no level playing field if players today can break records while they are on drugs, so it puts all the baseball records and statistics in question.

Many baseball players would probably rather not use steroids, but they do because of other player pressure. Another writer states, "That is to say, athletes who prefer to stay 'clean' are compelled to use steroids out of a fear that other athletes use them. In other words, athletes who would otherwise stay clean are coerced into substance use."

This peer pressure exists because they are all in competition with each other, but also because if they can't perform, they could get sent down to the minors (with a reduction in pay), or they could be let go from the team or traded. All of this affects them monetarily, but it affects their morale and their playing ability. If they lose confidence in themselves, their playing can suffer, and that can lead to bad results, too. So, if they want to stay on the same playing field with the other players who use steroids, they have to use them too.

Most players know that steroids are dangerous and can cause major health issues later in life, but they choose to use them anyway. Another… [END OF PREVIEW]

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