Steroids, chewing tobacco, revisited
Five years ago I wrote a column about the risks of putting one’s health in danger with steroid use, and an even equally, or possibly more, dangerous problem, chewing tobacco, which can lead to cancer.
Now I’m back to writing about the baseball/steroids/chewing-tobacco interlock and I’m plucking from my “Open field” article of Aug. 6, 2007, because the problems remain in all the sports. But baseball, which is played without a clock, needs to take a time-out and address both problems.
Again, I want to stress that I’m against steroids and support any approach or programs that keep them out of college (not easily done) and, more importantly, high school and youth athletics.
Being a longtime and stalwart San Francisco Giants fan, the steroid-fueled Melky Cabrera suspension is, sadly, not surprising, because there have been rumors about his accelerated player-production levels over the past two years – but he does have plenty of company with those who’ve been caught, and those who don’t.
But the obsession with steroids at the professional level – that includes the Olympics, which are way more pro than amateur – and again focused on baseball, is getting way overblown, especially when football is a known major steroid sport. And let’s not overlook cycling, track and field, basketball, tennis, golf and other pro sports.
We must remember that drugs and alchohol have been part of professional sports forever, and, while pro athletes are professional entertainers, you don’t see drug-testing and banishments (unless it becomes a realistic crime and not a political ploy) in the world of theater, film, TV, music, art, etc.
If professional athletes/entertainers want to screw themselves up and put their health in danger with steroids, that’s their choice.
But what really is irritating about this problem is how the government, and both the republican and democratic parties, continue to get involved with negligent and money wasting investigations and trials.
With so many high-priority problems in this country and throughout the world, the valuable time and resources of our governing body can be used for the more desperate problems facing society than the “steroids in baseball” problem.
As I said before and continue to state is that major league baseball and our government continue to overlook the more dangerous problem of chewing tobacco, which can lead to cancer.
On a local level, more than a decade ago, a top-notch and respected Petaluma high school baseball coach got mouth cancer from chewing tobacco – which he was turned on to in high school – and ended up dying as a young man with a wife and children.
Though there was a campaign against chewing tobacco at the pro baseball level – with Major League Baseball banning it only in the minor leagues – it has been made mostly invisible by the steroid obsession.
Sonoma recently held its annual “Relay for Life” – which raises valuable funds to help the American Cancer Society in cancer research, education and patient services. If you were there, you would experience the total importance of keeping our youth from getting addicted to tobacco-related products.
One encouraging sign at the Relay for Life was the participation of teams put together by some Sonoma Valley High School students, including the Dragons’ varsity baseball boys.
There are so many real priorities in our society that must be addressed, pertaining to our children, before the powers-that-be go after professional entertainers, who we say are role models for our youth, which makes them scapegoats for parents and other adults who need to be the true role models.
As for Melky’s steroid meltdown, the current Giants are pros and good role models, who were majorly let down (and made brimming mad) by a selfish, self-imploding teammate, but have the talent, character and determination to reach the postseason, win a possible division title, and capture the National League pennant.
Then, because it recently happened, so we know it can be a reality, the Giants can, again, be World Series champions.