Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Asterisk *

The big news is that Alex Rodriguez has admitted that, for a few years, earlier in his career, he did, in fact, use performance-enhancing drugs. I have to be honest. I just don’t care anymore. I’m just over it all. There are three major reasons why: The first is that the damage is done, the era is tarnished and from this point forward, it’s just a Salem-style witch hunt so that we can point fingers and ridicule the damned.

Second, is the fact that steroid use was not against the rules in baseball during the period during which drug use was so prevalent. There were positive tests and no punishments. No one cared. If it wasn’t against the rules, then how can we be so outraged over it?

And finally, it seems a little hypocritical of us to sit in judgment of these people. We all use performance-enhancing drugs.

The asterisk is the great symbol of this campaign against performance-enhancing drugs. Does that mean that a woman should shout out, “Asterisk!!!” post-coitus if her man used Viagra or Cialis? After all, he enhanced his performance didn’t he? Some men use those drugs to keep playing after their bodies decide it’s time for them to retire. Sound familiar?

Should your boss, at your annual review, mark your glowing report with an asterisk? After all, he or she has sat silently by and watched you bring your performance-enhancing drug, coffee, into the office every single day. No, they didn’t dare say anything. That one time you were running late and didn’t have time to stop for your coffee was lesson enough for them. You were a mess! You didn’t function properly until after noon. Without your coffee, you’re only good for half a work day—if that!

Should your salary be cut because you used a performance-enhancing drug? Should they take back that Employee of the Month plaque they gave you? After all, you used chemicals to be more effective in what you do. You cheated. Some poor sap in your office who doesn’t drink coffee and was a bit more sleepy in the mornings lost out on that award because of your use.

And college kids are going to need to be tested. The use of Ritalin and other drugs that help kids focus is through the roof. Kids that were diagnosed with attention deficit disorders make huge cash selling off extra pills on campus to fellow students pulling all nighters. Does that A you received deserve an asterisk? It’s not real after all. It’s the product of a substance you used that allowed you to study all night and achieve that grade. You didn’t do it on your own.

And the list goes on. It amazes me that we, as a society, can be so offended by our athletes using these performance-enhancing drugs when we regular folk so happily and unthinkingly use anything we can to get an edge.

It’s amazing that we so strongly and ardently defend the integrity of a game, but are so lax when it comes to personal integrity. Every man whose ever used that little blue pill should be ashamed, should he not? Every coffee drinker contrite for sins committed against their co-workers? This drug use is the byproduct of our culture. We’ll do anything to get ahead, won’t we?

We’ll cheat a cashier out of some extra change accidentally given to us. We’ll take credit for a project that was done by people under us at work. We’ll use that credit to get a promotion and a raise. Do we deserve asterisks?

I think that the things we so vehemently rage against are the things that hit closest to home and this steroid scandal is just such a case. We see these athletes making millions of dollars and we want to hold them to a standard higher than the ones we hold ourselves to don’t we?

We treat life like a competition. We compete for the nicest, biggest house, the most attractive spouse, the boat, the cottage on the lake, the biggest and best toys. We compete for these trophies and we’ll do what it takes to earn them, to show them to our neighbors and lord our boons over them. And what do we say when someone has more than we do? What excuse do we use?

We fall back on our supposed integrity. We reason that we can have what they do, if only we had been willing to do what they did to get it—to cross the same lines. This isn’t about drugs. It isn’t about stats or integrity or any of that. It’s about watching the mighty fall. It’s the enjoyment of watching someone once held so highly esteemed, now reduced to nothing.
Reduced to nothing, in this case, by asterisk-wielding hypocrites.


Anonymous said...

Interesting take on the use of performance enhancing drugs. Tricky situation to be fair in when money is involved...or competition for that matter.

Personally, I think it comes down to if you use an aid to help you perform better, as long as you are honest about it and you are not using against a set of rules that are in place to ensure fairness, then it shouldn't matter.

- Me

Ramona said...

I love this part: Does that mean that a woman should shout out, “Asterisk!!!” post-coitus if her man used Viagra or Cialis? After all, he enhanced his performance didn’t he?

I wish I was dating someone much older just so I could use that line.

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