The media’s steroid double standard

The media circus arrived in Tampa on Tuesday, and the star attraction under the big top was Alex Rodriguez elaborating about his steroid usage. The talking heads on the evil four-letter network, ESPN, inundated us with up-to-the-minute updates on what to expect from Rodriguez’s press conference and showed countless sound bites from his contemporaries in baseball expressing their disappointment with his actions; SportsCenter became A-RodCenter.

Then, after a 32-minute press conference, the commentators returned to voice their displeasure of A-Rod’s handling of the media’s questions. They screamed for more details on his merry trek through Latin America with his cousin Yuri in search of the banned substance “boli” (Primobolan). Their analysis of the latest chapter in baseball’s steroid scandal had feel of a good old-fashioned witchhunt.

My reaction to the coverage: you are all hypocrites!

It is generally accepted that there is a double standard in how the media covers baseball in comparison with other sports. Their intense scrutiny on baseball’s latest black eye will give everyone involved enough anguish and outrage to last a season. Yet a collective yawn will be drawn inside the press box when it is announced that a NFL player has tested positive for steroids. No, they would rather write or chat about the ramifications from San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary dropping his pants in front his team than investigate players using diuretics to mask their steroid usage in league-mandated drug tests.

If you want to talk about steroids in the NFL, let’s begin with the 1970’s Pittsburgh Steelers. They won four Super Bowl titles and have a high rate of former players dying at a young age. Mike Webster, Steve Furness Courson (admitted steroid abuser), Dwight White, et cetera, all have died way too early in life. Add that their team doctor was implicated in buying over $150,000 worth of HGH from a Florida pharmacy that was raided by federal authorities last year. Yet, the media applauded them for doing whatever it took to become the most prolific dynasty in pro football.

Nobody imagines that locker rooms are drug-free, but few would think that players on successful teams would risk their lives to reach their goal of being the best in their sport…but they do. Money, of course, trumps ideology and blinds people from making rational decisions while pursuing their goals. Cheaters shame the game, as they care more about lining their pockets and less about the integrity of the game they say they love.

The media cannot pick and choose which stories to spotlight in their crusade to eradicate performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports. What A-Rod did was wrong and he will have to live with the damage that has been done to his name and image in the baseball. Journalists cannot full-court press their coverage on the latest greatest scandal in baseball while simply shrugging their shoulders to other known steroid abuse cases in other sports. It can’t just be business as usual in the NFL, where from Bill Belichick down to the lowly Detroit Lions, they would all cheat if it guaranteed them a victory on Sunday. I just wish that athletes would come clean about their use of performance-enhancing drugs and stop running from their past.

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