Steroid use in sports makes for juicy debate

Acceptance: Athletes are old enough to make their own choices about steroids, so moralists need to stop their preaching.

February 19, 2004

When that slugger clears the wall with a majestic home run or when that bruising defensive end plows into the quarterback, the fan jumps to his feet, high-fives a buddy or lets loose a whoop.

Here's what the typical fan doesn't do: worry that the athlete involved had taken steroids.

Moralists can wail that our sports are being ruined by steroids and other performance-enhancing substances, but they need to get off their high horses and just sit down in front of the wide-screen television.

Professional athletes are adults for the most part, old enough to make their own decisions. Taking steroids may not be the greatest idea, but it's their choice. And it's a choice available to their opponents.

But what about the integrity of sports records? Look at it this way: Steroids are just another way the modern athlete has an advantage over his predecessors. Offseason workouts, high-tech equipment, better nutrition, personal trainers -- do they mean every record set in recent years deserves an asterisk?

Let the investigators probe, let the legal system prosecute, let the leagues punish, but we're still going to change the channel, looking for highlights of the linebacker crushing the receiver over the middle.

What do you think?

The Sun has summarized two views of steroid use in sports. We invite readers to offer theirs.

Go to The Sun's Web site, baltimoresun.com, and click on Sports to state your opinion. We will select a sampling to run in the Sports section on Tuesday.

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