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Unfortunately, steroids in baseball were unregulated for far too long.
The MLB unwittingly became the biggest advertisement for the benefits of prolonged steroid abuse.
Steroids have become a standard part of discussing sports in modern America, but how did it get this way?
Most major sports organizations banned them and other similarly destructive performance enhancers as soon as the dangers were apparent.
This lead to a long period of tainted sportsmanship that started the inexorable decline in baseball’s popularity, and it helped spurn a nationwide epidemic that is still ravaging America’s youth.
Steroids In Baseball Rumors
The prevalence of steroid use in professional baseball is no longer news, but many still underestimate just how prolific the abuse was.
A brief introduction to the history of steroids in baseball can shed some light on the issue.
The period from 1980 to the present has become known as the “steroid era.”
The MLB failed to ban most performance enhancing drugs until 1991, and they didn’t start testing until 2003.
Some estimates put usage totals as high as 80 percent of all MLB athletes before testing became standard.
In general, steroids in baseball statistics suggest that every game played during the era was effected by performance enhancers.
Even since, many of the biggest names in the sport have admitted to using banned substances.
When the MLB finally took them seriously and started investigating their usage, the results were devastating.
The Mitchell Report, conducted by George J. Mitchell in 2006 and 2007, directly implicated a number of baseball’s most public stars.
Some of the most recognizable names on the list include Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, David Justice and Jose Canseco.
Mitchell’s investigation ultimately led to suspensions of players off the list, like Alex Rodriguez.
With the flagrant disrespect for sportsmanship touching so many beloved players and programs, it was inevitable that the sport’s popularity would decline.
Baseball Popularity Decline
The decline is also far worse than most Americans recognize. Baseball ratings peaked in the 1970s, with numbers around 24.2.
In recent years, the World Series only pulled in numbers around 4.6. These declines fall perfectly in line with rhetoric for the steroids in baseball timeline.
To put this in better perspective, the World Series is now the fifth most watched annual sporting event behind the Super Bowl, BCS National Championship, NBA Finals, NCAA Basketball Final and the League of Legends World Championships.
That last one refers to a video game competition that is now consistently more popular than baseball.
If that isn’t clear enough, more Americans enjoy watching people play video games than professional baseball.
America’s pastime has fallen, and drugs are one of the most cited reasons for the decline in enthusiasm.
Steroids In High School
The steroid epidemic has done more than just destroy baseball’s integrity and popularity.
It has also fueled a huge spike in use among teenagers.
In fact, 2.5 percent of 10th graders and 4 percent of 12th graders have admitted to using performance enhancing drugs at some point.
This adds up to more than 1.5 million teenagers in the U.S. using knowingly harmful substances to improve athletic performance.
Maybe more disturbingly, this means that 23.4 percent of all high school athletes are using steroids at some point before they graduate.
This general acceptance of steroids in sports is leading to massive health problems, and several studies have shown strong links between decisions to dope and the MLB steroid era.
With all of this talk about increased steroid usage and image, it’s time to face an important question: what’s the big deal? The negative health effects of steroid usage has long been documented.
Cardiovascular problems, reproductive issues, hormone deficiency, mood swings and increased aggression are widely known side effects. Less known are the links to depression and increased drug use.
The massive use of steroids among teenagers has been a major factor in suicide increases. It has also been shown that steroid users are substantially more likely to abuse other drugs.
At this point, steroid use in baseball is a massive contributor to teenage suicide and drug use in addition to being the major source of inspiration for using steroids.
One of America’s greatest traditions has become a black mark on society. Steroids in baseball have been a destructive force, ravaging a nation’s love for its best sport and introducing its youth to a dangerous epidemic.
Recent efforts by the MLB to curb abuse and punish offenders may turn things around in the long run, but until it becomes painfully apparent to the public that cheating will never pay, the problems with baseball as a sport and the issues it has perpetuated will continue.
Negligence opened Pandora’s box. Now we will have to see if any focused effort can clean up the mess of steroids in baseball.