While getting into sports at a young age can be a fun way to hang out with friends and learn leadership skills, there is a contingent of players that are looking to go to that next level. This next level requires hard work dedication, and even then, you don’t always make it where you want to go. This could lead to an athlete venturing into steroid use to help them gain an edge.
It’s no secret that steroid use is still commonplace in the world of sports meaning anyone from a high school locker room to the trainer’s room in professional sports. In fact, according to a study conducted by Confirm Biosciences in 2018, seven percent of college athletes used steroids in one way or another. By far, the most interesting part of the study revealed that 77% thought PED use was vital in reaching the professional leagues.
Looking at the high school level, and 2016 PMC study revealed that between 1-12 percent of boys were using steroids. That’s compared to 0.3 to 3.5 percent use, female athletes. Keep in mind that the pressure to do these only grows as these kids move up the ranks, which is why it is vital to tell the other side of the story when it comes to Steroid use.
Let’s start with what it can do to your body and your mind. Starting with the body, the drug has a laundry list of long-term health conditions that it can cause. Unfortunately for those younger that think this is what they need to go far, they could be met with Liver damage, kidney damage, high blood pressure, depressed immune system, and sexual performance issues.
These are going to follow them for the rest of their life and cause very dangerous effects. For example, if your immune system gets suppressed, it will become easy to catch even the smallest of viruses. You will also have trouble fighting off a tougher virus. That could play a critical role in many people’s lives for years to come and is nothing to scoff at.
Another example is fertility. This affects men and women differently. While men will likely have a high sex drive, they will find themselves struggling with a smaller sperm count. Also, they could have erectile dysfunction and shrunken testicles in some cases. Now, in women, they face the possibility of changes to their menstrual cycle, male pattern baldness, and ultimately becoming infertile because of their past use. This is all according to PMC.com
Things get even worse when you look at the psychological effects of performance-enhancing drugs, which include feelings of paranoia, severe mood swings, depression, and angry outbursts. This puts people and those around them at risk of being harmed and has resulted in many tragic situations over the years.
One particularly bad case was former WWE Superstar, Chris Benoit, who killed his wife and son before hanging himself in the weight room. This was a man that WWE had just put on the top of the metaphorical mountain in 2004, even having him win the World
Heavyweight Title in a Triple Threat match at WrestleMania 20. This guy was a fan favorite and known for his work ethic, his intensity, and his underdog wrestling style.
WWE was eventually forced to erase Benoit’s name from their entire company and has maintained that since his death in 2007. Now, there is still some discussion of whether it was roid rage or CTE that fueled his intentions, but one could argue that the steroids were only putting gasoline on a very dangerous fire at that point if the claims about his CTE are true.
Another tragic case is that of Lyle Alzado, a Defensive end in The NFL that claimed his use of steroids led to the brain tumor that eventually killed him. He is recognized as one of the first NFL players in sports history that came clean about his use and led the way to many others to admit the same as well. And yes, he might have two Super Bowl rings to his name, he might be a two-time all-pro pick, but those accolades come with an asterisk attached to them. They also came at a price.
The first price is the shame that a portion of his career is blackened by the thought of using steroids to gain an edge. It adds an albatross around his sports legacy and will forever be mentioned when looking at his stats. The second price, however, was much more painful. It was watching his life slowly slip away as he died from a brain tumor. It should be noted that there is no known link between steroids and brain tumors, but Alzado maintained that it played a role.
“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, to admit that I’ve done something wrong,” Alzado said during an interview where he admitted his use. “If I had known that I would be this sick now, I would have tried to make it in football on my own—naturally. Whoever is doing this stuff, if you stay on it too long or maybe if you get on it at all, you’re going to get something bad from it. I don’t mean you’ll get brain cancer, but you’ll get something. It is a wrong thing to do.”
Becoming a professional athlete is a good goal. It is something that people should strive for if they really enjoy the game, but not at the cost of their bodies. The problem is the benefits seem so tempting at first. They see the possible power, notoriety, and possibilities for the future. What they don’t see though are the long-term effects and the overall stain it could have on their legacy. That’s why people need to show stories like Benoit and Lyle Alzado. They need to be aware of the permanent damage it can have on their life.