Injection site preparation…
Hello everyone. When you go to the doctor and they give you an injection they always prep the injection site with an alcohol swab. Apropos, I am posting the article below, which I wrote back at the beginning of the baseball season for a publication called Boston Baseball, as a way of preparing you for the injection of video commentary I will posting very soon. Both the article and videocast are about steroids. The article was written at the beginning of last season and it addresses what was happening in baseball at the time. The actual article the publishers ran in the magazine was sprayed down with the perfume of political correctness. I agreed to the changes of my original because I really did appreciate the opportunity to put my viewpoint forth and there was a deadline at the time that left me no time to negotiate for leaving my bolder and blunter points in. This article, here, is my original. plus few edits and add-ons just now completed before posting.
The forthcoming videocast was recorded a couple of weeks after my Hannity and Colmes appearance and it deals with the steroid controversies surrounding the Benoit incident.
Try to relax….you’re only going to feel a slight pinch.
Your Founding Father of Administering the Much Needed Medicine of Truth,
*** I am able to moderate comments again. As I laid out in this videocast, there are some house rules around here. One, children and adults who either think or behave like children don’t have freedom of speech in MY house. Two, I’m a stickler for good spelling. And I think there’s nothing more pathetic than those acting like tough guys who can’t even spell their cuss words correctly. Neither these kinds of comments or mistakes will be allowed or tolerated.
Gauging by the contributions made thus far, I might not be qualified to comment on this steroid and performance enhancement issue. I am a former sports superstar. However, I’m not, now, broken down physically and broke financially, attributing all my career success and present-day ills to the use of performance enhancement supplementation. Neither do I have a bitter ax to grind, a superficial, stupid and vulgar tell-all book to hock, or a need to beg others to feel sorry for me.
To lessen my chances even more of being taken seriously and credibly, I’m not an envious sports journalist or zealot, stat-keeping fan who, to begin with, never had the skills, talent, work ethic, guts, stamina, or self discipline to be a competitive champion athlete. Nor did I get my knowledge about steroids solely from a PDR, where what is found can be used to speciously pervert “use” as being the same as “abuse.”
Ten years removed from my successful sports entertainment career, I’m still healthy, strong, flexible, fast and lead a physically intense, energetic, and positive lifestyle. I’ve no criminal rap sheet, drug rehabilitation record, or idleheaded, profane reality show. I’m a happily married husband and a very proud, delighted father.
I did exercise the aforementioned virtues to become one of the best competitive champion athletes in my chosen sports field, and I have used these virtues time and time again to continue being productive and successful in my life.
I did use steroids. I know about their long and short term effects from personal experience, not rumor or generic medical studies done on mice, or the rare “roid rage” incident overdramatized by ignorant-minded media. When asked, I’ve never lied about it. And I can honestly say they had the least to do with my success while I was in my sports career.
So you can see, by the standard that has been set to be an expert on this issue today, I’m an absolute failure. Nonetheless, I will give it my Warrior best.
Good or bad role modeling? Fair or unfair? Legitimate or illegitimate? Manly or unmanly? Cheating or not? Disrespect and irreverence for the tradition and character of baseball or not? There’s a lot to consider.
I want to concentrate on the role-modeling aspect of it, right now. I think it — and its power of influence — is what matters most here, and is what most interests me. In fact, at great professional and financial sacrifice, I turned from participating in Sports Entertainment many years ago because of its unhealthy, degenerate, and lewd creative environment and built a career writing and speaking to youth on responsible, heroic, and principled behavior, especially young males about their life potential and masculine identities.
About the fair or unfair aspect, cheating or not, my short opinion on it is this.
It is interesting to me that there are very few fellow champion athletes, those still in the game competing today, who are complaining about how unfair it is. Neither do you hear the team owners and managers, in unison or large numbers, complaining about it being unfair. Frankly, the voluminous, infantile opining thus far by non-competitive athletes exists for one reason and one reason only: solely because too many irrational and subjective idiocies and ambiguities are being tolerated instead of immediately junked. And, to think, they claim athletes are the muscleheads.
When you crunch the numbers, though, the proportions all make sense. The massive number of envious know-it-alls who truly know nothing far outnumbers the low number of great athletes who have and know what it takes to excel. Why? Leaders are rare and followers come in legions. My guess is, this is also why you don’t hear much that is negative or denouncing from fellow champion players, team owners and managers.
They are all leaders in some sense and they are all willing to push the rules as far they can to do whatever it takes to win. Talent and managers want to perform alongside and manage like-minds. These athletes already accept the fact that the World isn’t fair to begin with (most people using common sense accept it too)– and even without performance enhancers, things still aren’t going to be fair. They get it: the playing field will never be level. There are natural skills and talents. And there are those who will make the extra effort and sacrifice to improve even those. And, then, there are those who won’t. Next thing you know self-discipline itself — the most powerful performance enhancer there is — will be on the “Banned Substance” list.
To put it in simple, naked terms, pro athletes who’s work day involves walking around locker rooms butt-naked get this really well; guys who haven’t been in a locker room since high school, when they had to turn their backs on their classmates to summons up the confidence to put their gym shorts on, don’t. Like it or not, all males aren’t built the same way in their physical nature or mental capacity. No man is wholly equal to play games, either the one of life or the ones on an athletic field.
Certainly, if there are rules, they need to be abided by. I’m not advising otherwise. But get rid of the ambiguity.
There are those charged with making and enforcing the rules of the game and those charged with playing by them at performance levels which will be judged for quality. Responsibilities come with each role. Organizations don’t “literally” fulfill them — people who work for and run the organizations do. Success in fulfilling these organizational responsibilities is dependent on leaders with enough self-discipline to enforce their authority. If the rule makers truly desire absolute removal, then do it. Perform mandatory, unannounced and unexpected testing year round on all the players, and at “first strike,” impose a lifetime ban. Don’t talk about it — do it. Make it an either-or proposition and enforce the consequence, immediately. The possibility of rapidly delivered suffering is effective. Most of today’s athletes aren’t your average numbskulls. Sacrifice a couple of those who are and the rest will get with the plan real quick. It’s not that simple? Yes it is.
I think the case can be made that, rather than having failed at abiding by the rules, most of the athletes caught up in the performance enhancement trap have actually succeeded very well at abiding by the rules.
Something too many envious non-athletes and “weekend warriors” forget here: these guys are not you. They’re better than you. Yes. Yes, they are. They are better than you at doing what they do. You can buy the replica jerseys, but you couldn’t fill their shoes. That’s why your ass is spread out on the couch. A loud mouthed, zealous fan in an “armchair” isn’t a “quarterback.” He’s a daydreaming doofus, that’s all…probably an inebriated one getting his bravado and ballsiness from liquor and the all-beef weenies his fat gut is filled with. The event you watch them perform in is called a game, but to them it is anything but. It is their life and their livelihood. These athletes are totally different animals and have conditioned themselves to operate on a whole other level than other human beings. Here you demand performance of them, at its highest, most extreme levels, and when they cross a “performance” line that you — the passive non-athlete, non-champion — don’t approve of, you demean and discredit their talent, hard work and sacrifice altogether. This kind of girly-men giggling, behind the broad shoulders and wide, proud backs of the real men you non-athletic guys couldn’t compete with if you took enough performance enhancement to kill a rhino, has been going for years. Face it, even the “intensity” of squealing you non-competitive males are doing about all this, especially you never-fit, wide-ass sportswriters, would not be possible if it wasn’t for the fact that you all still wear your junior high school jockstraps to your slobbish jobs everyday.
It’s the height of hypocrisy to use Bond’s intelligence, on the one hand, to claim he’s too smart to not have know what he was doing and is nothing but a liar when he tells you he thought he was taking flaxseed oil (no way he can be that much of an idiot!), and, yet, on the other hand, not give credit to it to point out that he was indeed smart enough to know that he knew he was not actually breaking any rules by doing what he was doing. Yes, what he did he did covertly and that was definitely cunning and walking a fine legal line. But, still, he did not break the rules. He was simply doing what any high-caliber athlete has the “natural” potential to do when striving to be the best at what they do. There is no violation of any rule simply because an athlete pushes the rules as far as the rules will let him go.
We should quit beating up on the intelligent pro athletes who have shown they do have the self-discipline and drive to play by the rules, and start taking to task the organization’s weak, timid leaders who show they have no self-discipline to create and enforce rules they claim they want to have. There’s a lot of talk about shrinking organs…perhaps too many critics are trying to peek for evidence of it on the wrong guys.
Although I used steroids, and did so without abuse or suffering ill effects, I’m not an advocate for the use of steroids, certainly not by young athletes, in any way, shape, or form.
However, when it comes to professional high-caliber athletes there’s more to consider, especially here, when there is all this apparent concern so many pseudo-pundits have for the quality of role-modeling going on. The envy, fear and ignorance being put forth — it accompanied aplenty by huge doses of hypocrisy — is ultimately going to destroy much more than the individual targets which they are aimed.
The best way I can explain this is by telling you a personal story.
It was 1977. I was a freshman at Indiana State University. A few years earlier, I’d stumbled into my high school weight room and befriended an old, rusty Universal weight machine, sitting there in his draftless, windowless 10×10 room. Although still very skinny here in my first year of college, I was rapidly gaining weight and strength, especially since I no longer had to compete with my four brothers and sisters for the best performance enhancement supplement I knew of at the time, milk; my dormitory’s meal card put an end to rationing.
I was hooked on weighttraining and knew I would be for a long time. “Muscle Builder,” as Joe Weider’s “Muscle and Fitness” was called back then, was my pocket book. Rolled up, ragged, and ripped pages, I never left my dorm room without it. I always had it on hand to read whenever I took a break from studying, which to working out frequently took a back seat. Schwarzenegger, Columbo, Scott, Ferrigno, Robinson, Draper, Zane, Gable, Olivia – these were the guys I looked up to and who inspired me.
The first time I read about steroids was in Muscle Builder. Nothing at length, and no one admitting anything, just a couple blurbs. I became curious. Not to find any to take, but to find out more about them.
The first time I heard about steroids was in the underground weightroom and track and field facility on campus, affectionately called, ‘The Jungle,” by all of us that worked out there. One day one guy mentioned another guy who he believed used steroids. I knew this guy who he was talking about, so I thought to myself, now I know who I can ask to find out more about these things called steroids. That is, if I, first, could muster up the courage.
HE was a World-Class shot-putter, and the buzz was that he was on the verge of breaking the World Record. He was a self-disciplined creature of precise habit. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3 pm, through the unseen, upstairs door you knew he had entered the building. Even before you saw him duck his head and turn his body sideways to squeeze his massive frame through the small downstairs entrance you could feel his presence in the building.
He was huge. A human mastodon. Six-foot, seven-inches. 350 pounds. Not fat. Solid like a Boulder. Yet graceful like a panther. He gazed above all the rest of us and, seemingly, beyond the walls confining us all together. Bald, a chest like an industrial keg, legs like trees, a neck replaced by traps like mountains, little beady, close-set eyes, and tiny-rimmed, oval glasses. You could tell he had something going on his head other than mumbling. A 350 pound, muscled-up Harry Potter. All his potential for caricature made him even more intimidating.
He always used the same bench. Mysteriously, whenever he came to the gym, no one else was ever on it. It was his throne and even newcomers knew it. He always did the same bench presses: 135, 225, 315, 405, 465, 495, and a couple of sets of a couple of reps with over 500. Like clockwork. No drama. Just power. One calculated grunt before the explosion of each rep. Done, he’d exit in the same bull-elephant manner he thundered in.
I had my chance. I only had two to three seconds to find my courage. I followed him, walking in the enormous dark shadow his body cast behind, and got his attention, “Sir, could you tell me anything about ster—.” That was as far as I got. He cut my sentence off and my breath short. He looked right into my eyes and he wasted no words. I’ll never forget the force of his breath or what he said. It seems like just yesterday.
‘Steroids don’t build champions, young man. Champions are built from hard physical work, mental discipline and personal sacrifice. All of these in huge amounts. Before I ever took one steroid, I was one of the 10 best shot putters in the world…on this planet. At that time I had a choice before me. I knew to have that shot at being the World’s BEST, there were new rules to play by. I may not have liked it, but those were the facts. As a reasonable adult man, responsible for my life and its future, and with a limited amount of time to exploit the athletic potential I have, I made a mature adult decision. I want to be THE best in the World. Young man, if you don’t have what it takes to be ONE of the best playing by the old rules, deciding to play by the new rules won’t ever make you THE BEST — THE champion above all others. You understand?’
‘Yes, sir,’ I somehow got out. He, then, turned and squeezed himself through the tiny door.
Of course, I didn’t get at all what he was saying at that very moment. But I wasn’t about to ask him to tell me again. I wouldn’t have been able to hold my breath any longer, which it seemed I did forever. After a few days, though, of thinking about what he said, I did get it. And from that second forward I never even thought about steroids till years later and a natural, muscular weight gain of over 110 pounds.
I worked out and worked out and worked out and worked out till the calluses on my hands would bleed. I did my first three bodybuilding contests without steroids. I weighed over 275 pounds of hard, solid muscle — 225-235 competition weight — before I ever considered doing them.
When I finally did, I traveled to Southern CA, talked and compared my myself with those same pros I admired and other top amateurs I’d read about through the industry’s publications. I met with Joe Weider and left inspired that I had all it would take to go to the top. And I got adequate knowledge to know that if I wanted to be one of the best competitive bodybuilders in the World, taking steroids was a fact of the matter I would have to deal with.
I never abused them and I never took them just so I could be the gym monster, the guy trying too hard to look the best in his tank top when he doesn’t truly have what it takes. I had a purpose and was willing to accept the risks, and the consequences of taking those risks. At about the same time, an opportunity came up to get in wrestling. The rest there, as they say, is history. During that career, I used performance enhancement to recuperate. Often, I would be on the road for 30-40 days at a time, averaging 3 hours sleep a night. When I did get a day off it was usually only one or two and a good part of the time was spent traveling back home only to pack back up again.
I left Indiana State after one year and went to school in Florida to continue my education. I saw that World Class shot-putter a few more times, but never spoke to him again, even though he would wink at me from across the weightroom, sorta teasing me about how hard I was working out and how much progress he seemed to notice I was making.
I don’t know if he ever broke the World record. What I do know, unbeknownst to him, he delivered the single greatest piece of mentoring I, as a fatherless kid, had ever been given in my whole 18 years of life. Still today, I’ve never forgotten the impact his simple, yet forceful, spoken words had on me.
When I do my speaking engagements or converse with parents and other adults I talk about how I think that, if we will always have the strength to practice what we preach and give young people the honest, proper direction, they will have what they need to make the right, disciplined, and responsible decisions for themselves at each of their own many crossroads in life. Most of us adults, especially grown men, are not doing that today. And, sadly, many of these un-grownup men are the only ones that get the column space and TV time to talk about this steroid and performance issue baseball is dealing with right now.
Bonds and the others have failed us at role-modeling. But not because they took steroids. They failed us because they didn’t have the courage to tell us the truth, or the confidence and competence to explain their actions, which by today’s cultural standards and demands are arguably natural and reasonable.
The truth can’t matter on one hand and not on the other, like so many are trying to attempt. There’s a lot of of talk about the absence of traditions and manly characters of the past. But too many people conveniently forget that there once was a time when men would not allow themselves to get away with the pervasive behavioral contradictions accepted today. In those missed cherished times, if the truth didn’t matter on both hands, real men wouldn’t allow it to matter on one alone.
We live in a culture today where failure and vice are praised and success and virtue are ridiculed. In the last 50 years of experimentation trying to equalize outcome and worth across the board, political correctness has now made it so that it is unpopular for any male to be the best at what they do on their own innate, masculine terms. Our young males are being emasculated and they are having their birthright to fully develop their own self-discipline and self-responsibility robbed from them. We want manly, heroic role-modeling, but we have neither the cultural or individual character to handle the masculinity of it.
There is nothing that drives an athlete more, or more empowers the inspiration of others, than an all-consuming desire to be the best, at whatever cost. Unfortunately, we may not have the guts or hormones for it anymore.
There’s a joke passed around, typically expressed seriously by jealous males, that steroids, not Wheaties, are the breakfast of today’s champions. Frankly, I think the joke sorta loses its cynical impact when you consider most non-athletes abuse all other kinds of body and mind altering drugs without suffering any scrutiny or ridicule whatsoever. Nonetheless, if this were true, my suggestion would be that we find a way to insure fewer males go without breakfast. Because it’s all too obvious that too many males today are missing the most important meal of the day. The World sure could use a few more guys with the self-disciplined character it takes to be real champions.
Copyright 2008 Ultimate Creations, Inc.