Monday, December 13

ExSportiment Awards in the Year 2010

And Major League Baseball's Most Valuable Player is...Magilla Gorilla.
Finally, it's time for our highest award...and the winner of Most Difficult-to-Trace Performance Enhancing Cocktail is... Dr. Benjamin Clamperman.

I am told, by reporters and athletes, that fans don't mind, don't care, that athletes are taking performance enhancing drugs. They (we) just want to see more home runs, faster runners, higher jumpers.  I would be surprised if this is true.  I would hope that fans see this as I see it.  I can only speak for myself, but as a fan, I am absolutley against the practice of enhancing one's performance through means other than hard work and perseverance.
To me, records become meaningless.  Breaking them become valueless.  I find it increasingly more difficult to allow myself to cheer on athletes, for fear of finding out they cheat.  I was so euphoric when Ben Johnson won Gold, so disappointed when I was told he cheated.  My enthusiasm for Donovan Bailey's performances was greatly tempered because I didn't want to be let down again.  I am saddened by that.
Now, when Barry Bonds breaks records, I think "Meh."  So what.

Sports are becoming less about personal achievement and more about experiment.

Let's stop saying these people play sports.  Let's change it to "exsportiments".


John said...

No matter what substances Bonds has or hasn't taken, he's still one of the hardest training athletes out there, completely dedicated to keep himself in shape to do what he does best. The fact of the matter is that the actual impact of so-called performance enhancing substances on player statistics is unknown, and probably unknowable — how do you do a study that can control for the vast amount of variables inherent in a baseball season?
In my opinion, the effects are probably slight and may even balance out: for instance, if a player is able to hit the ball slightly harder then a swing is as likely to result in a not-quite squarely hit ball carrying to an outfielder's glove instead of falling in front of him for a hit, or in a ground ball getting to an infielder slightly quicker and becoming an out instead of an infield hit, as it is for a squarely hit ball to carry over the fence instead of dying at the wall.
Physics dictates that the human body itself, as an athletic machine, imposes an upper limit on the amount of torque which can be generated for the purpose of swinging a bat, or throwing a ball. The best baseball players are already performing near the limits of their bodies' abilities. I would suspect that the ingesting or applying of substances by ballplayers and other athletes is nowhere near as important as concentration, focus, patience, and dedication to the perfection of their mechanics — as far as I know, neither steroids nor human growth hormones enhance any of those mental abilities.
Enough rambling from me. Here are some links to both sides of the issue:

graham said...

If they don't need the perfomance enhancers, why do they take them?

John said...

I don't know, Graham. Just in case? Because they're dumasses? Because they're human, and predisposed genetically and culturally to take advantage of anything that might possibly give them any kind of edge? Why do some musicians use distortion pedals and other effects — anything beyond what is needed for amplication for a large crowd or venue?

Rob said...

I agree with you, John, that Bonds probably works very hard to achieve his successes. And while I agree that it's nearly impossible to know the difference in benefit that performance enhancing drugs provide, I disagree with you on how much these drugs probably enhance performance. I don't think Bonds would be hitting nearly as many home runs as he currently is, if he wasn't imbibing in these drugs.
And whether my belief is correct or not, his use is clouding my appreciation, to the point where, to me, his home-run total becomes a worthless statistic.

Wayne said...

Nice to see people are finally taking a real interest in drugs and sports. I remember Lyle Alzado's plea to consider the consequences. I remember that outrage when Ben Johnson's medal was taken back by Bill Stanish from Halifax and others(He told me about the experience when I saw him as a patient in Halifax) which was soon forgotten. Too many people adore sports figures to the extent they overlook their mistakes. The memory and attention span of many fans is real short. And, unfortunately, the stands are full of hero worshippers (many drunk on beer) instead of sports fans. And I remember that poll where athletes were asked if they would accept death in 5 years in exchange for a gold medal. Over 80% said yes! We need legislation to protect people from themselves, and pro athletes are no different.

John said...

Rob, my appreciation for home run statistics has been depreciated by the offensive explosion of baseball in general, of which I think steroids are a symptom, not a cause. Everyone is swinging for the damn fences, even light-hitting utility infielders, and have been since the mid-nineties.
Wayne: "We need legislation to protect people from themselves, and pro athletes are no different."
For their own good, right? Whoa, statements like that are enough to drive a man completely into libertarianism.
I say, "No thank you very much" to legislating me for my own good. I'll keep my individual choice in every area in my life. As far as I'm concerned, seatbelt laws, smoking laws, drinking laws, drug laws, laws against consenting adults being able to fuck or marry each other if they so choose, are tactics in a misguided overall political strategy that leads straight to the short, ugly pier of fascism. And I have no interest in seeing myself or my country take the long walk off that pier.