The use of steroids by athletes has been a lot on the news these few days. The practice had already been reported more than a few times in the last several years but for the first time the problem is said to be of epidemic proportions.

It is, I donŐt deny, a matter of public health. But those concerned have been talking of controlling the use by more rigorous screening, more stringent regulations, and louder hortatory counselling. But as I see it they are barking on a wrong tree. What is not openly discussed is the corruption of the competitive, spectator sports at the very top of the organization. Journalists are skirting the issue because specator sports in modern America has become, as it was in Roman Empire, sacrosanct.

One team owner scowled his face in a television interview and pronounced firmly that he will get to the bottom of the matter. It made me laugh. I thought he should look in the mirror and straight iinto his face. The problem is not at the bottom but at the top.

Athletic teams today are corporate organizations. Enormous capitals are at stake. Players are traded like slaves. To assure their earnings, the owners must see that their stable is well stocked with strong athletes, or they will lose the games and their capitals. Coaches and players are surely culprits in their negligaence in keeping their teams clean of drugs. But I have no doubt that they are uinder the pressure to win at any cost and by any means. The players are virtually forced to make every effort to maximize their prowess and try anything to assure, aid, and promote it by physical training and, if need be, by medical discipline and thus by extension chemical means.

Admittedly, there are honest and morally straight athletes; there are individual men and women who take their individual athletics seriously. But competitive team sports loom large in American culture, and in the process of their becoming corporate, they lost their soul. Winning is everything; and anything goes to win. The moral sense of the word sportsmanship has long been dead.

Saddest of all in this degeneration of athletics is the politics modelling itself on competitive sports. Little wonder moral values from the mouth of politicians means no more than the rotten sportsmanship.

T. Kaori Kitao - 12. 04.04


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