Robert Oslinker - Steroids in Pro Sports Research Analysis
Introduction<br />There really should not be a controversy over steroid use in athletics. Non-medical use of anabolic steroids is illegal and banned by most, if not all, major sports organizations. But yet still, some athletes persist in taking them, believing that these substances provide a competitive advantage. Beyond the issues of popularity or legality is the fact that steroids can cause serious physical and psychological side effects and causes stigmatizing social affects for both the sport in which the athlete participates in and those closest to him or her (ESPN 2007). The focus of this research is to gather information in the attempt to answer two questions. The first being: What role do the media play in perpetuating the use of steroids among athletes and adolescents? And the second being: Why would adolescents and athletes be compelled to obtain and use steroids and other performance enhancing drugs? Having being captivated as a youth with the record breaking athletic accomplishments of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa as well as being completely unaware at the time that their achievements were due in large part to the help of steroid use, I wish to assist in the efforts to move baseball in the direction of restoring the integrity of the game that it had previously had before, that had been tarnished by McGwire, Sosa and many others during the “steroid era” of the late 90’s and early to mid-2000’s (Johnson, Shoup & Rickert 2001). This is an issue that many people are very passionate about including the United States Congress, who on March 18, 2001 brought McGwire, Sosa and other big league sluggers to a hearing. During the course of an all-day, nationally televised hearing, the House Government Reform Committee fulfilled its goal of examining baseball's oft-criticized drug-testing program and its impact on steroid use among teenagers (Sheinin 2005).<br />Literature Review<br />Previous studies have found that men who viewed advertisements with male models showed an increase in body dissatisfaction (Baird & Grieve 2006). The importance of this finding is that the body dissatisfaction experienced through exposure to “ideal images” of men in the media is only the beginning of possible outcomes which may include steroid use (Baird & Grieve 2006). Baird and Grieve (2006) examined issues such as today’s increasing pressures on men to obtain and keep a certain “ideal” body type and examined what role they might play in determining whether they may decide to use steroids along with other risky health practices. They found that there is a correlation between an individual having a negative body image, and having it perpetuated by the media, and as a result reason becoming intrigued to use steroids and/or engaging in other body risk behaviors. Karazsia and Crowther’s article (2010) examines the perceived encouragement aspect of social influence, social body comparison, and internalization - the process of adopting societal values as guiding principles and examines the relationship to various risky body change behaviors, such as steroid use in athletes and men. The study tested a slightly revised version of a previous study known as the Tripartite Influence Model. With a sample of 156 male undergraduate students from the Midwestern Region of the United States, participants completed measures pertaining to body image and health-risk behaviors. Consistent with the Tripartite Influence Model, individual psychological variables mediated the association between sociocultural influences and muscularity-oriented body dissatisfaction. Body dissatisfaction mediated the relation between psychological variables and engagement in body change behaviors. Theoretical models developed to explain body change behaviors among women may be applicable to men when constructs are assessed in ways that are relevant to men (Karazia & Crowther 2010).<br />Demographic breakdowns are used in Miller and Barnes (2002) article to identify who steroid users are, and what their motivations for steroid use may be. They found that steroid users were disproportionately male, nonblack, and lower in socioeconomic standing as measured by educational achievement. Specifically, the racial/ethnic makeup of the user population did not differ significantly between males and females; however, female users were significantly younger and less affluent than male users. Further, it was discovered that in general, adolescent athletes tend to be significantly younger than their nonathletic cohorts and enjoy more social and economic resources. Secondly, the racial/ethnic composition of the athlete and non-athlete steroid-using populations differed for females but not for males, and that steroid use was disproportionately common in Latina athletes whereas a higher proportion of white female users were non-athletes. No significant differences were obtained between athlete and non-athlete users for black females or for black, Hispanic, or white males. Also, athletes and non-athletes were about equally likely to report having used steroids. Miller and Barnes (2002) tested their assumptions that an adolescent who uses steroids must be a boy who plays sports and that the users’ commitment to success in that sport precludes behaviors perceived as jeopardizing athletic performance. <br />Part of Miller and Barnes (2002) research was determining significant patterns of problem behaviors associated with steroid use by male and female athletes and non-athletes. Miller and Barnes (2002) found that some users perceive steroids as an alternative to exercise, rather than as a means of performance enhancement. In their previous studies, they found that 36% of their high-school student sample believed that if they took steroids they “did not have to exercise or eat well to get big or strong muscles.” They also identified a substantial amount of adolescent users whose main reasons had little to do with body image or dissatisfaction but rather that they took steroids to “become more brave” , “to get intoxicated”, “because it’s fun to try” or “because friends do it.”<br />Vassalo and Olrich (2010) explain how through their interviews with college football players who had admittedly used steroids, that a level of perceived increased confidence was a major reason for their continued use, and that the drop in confidence levels and the loss of the “mental edge” were motivating factors contributing to the further use of steroids. Furthermore through the interviews, answers for use of steroids included responses such as: “increased muscle mass and strength, improved sport performance, increased perceptions of positive well-being, increased academic performance, perceived maintenance of healthier lifestyle behavior, increased mental functioning, felt invincible, felt “on top of the world”, and felt superior to others.”<br />Steroid use has become a medical, ethical, and legal problem for today’s athletes and athletic organizations. Martin and Baron (2006) explain that this is due primarily to the amount of money associated with winning in today’s sports industry. The financial gains possible for professional athletes tempt many to consider using performance-enhancing drugs despite health risks, in an effort to earn large amounts of money (Martin & Baron 2006). Rudolph (2010) explains that the major social issue that continues to haunt professional baseball is the scandals surrounding steroid use by its most high profile players. He tells how from an economic standpoint, the high player salaries and increasing ticket prices anger fans that now find the game out of reach financially. Used as an example in Rudolph’s article is Dominican-born, Major League Baseball superstar Manny Ramirez. Given baseballs current state of steroid scandals, and criticisms of lack of representation of domestic, urban men of color among its players, MLB attempts to negotiate U.S. patriotism and international appeal through transnationalism, and global marketing initiatives. The career of Manny Ramirez highlights contradictions in this marketing strategy, as well as the extent to which different perceptions of Ramirez’s reputation for deviant behavior, stemming largely from his 2009 50-game suspension for testing positive for steroid use, parallel, as well as differs from those of other athletes of color in the National Basketball Association and National Football League.<br />A weakness with these previous studies may be the fact that the majority of them took place while the vast majority of professional sports were still in the midst of the so called “steroid era.” A period of time where many athletes were still masking the fact they were using and playing an unfair advantage. A strength of doing research on this topic today is the fact that professional sports has let it be known and made it clear that they are attempting to move past the “steroid era” and bring competitive athletics back to an even playing-field. Asking athlete’s questions and gauging their knowledge of steroids may be easier now knowing that they may be more honest and open with their responses with the assumption in mind that they have nothing to hide or be dishonest about. <br />Hypotheses<br />H1: More frequent exposure to commercial media advertisements leads to a greater possibility of individuals using steroids<br />H2: The less happy someone is with their body image the more likely they use steroids <br />H3: The greater the opportunity for an athlete to make money in sports the greater the chance he may use steroids<br />H4: Older age has an insignificant effect on whether an athlete may choose to use steroids<br />H5: Athletes from higher socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to use steroids<br />H6: Steroids, although present in all sports, are most prominent in baseball and football<br />Methods<br />-Sample<br />I would like to have a sample size of around 80 to 100 athletes. The way I see it is: 20-25 high school athletes, 20-25 college athletes, 20-25 amateur athletes, and 20-25 professional athletes. Half would be men, the other half being women. I would attempt to find student athletes from Bloomsburg High School by going to the athletic fields during after school hours on weekdays after contacting the coaches first. I would also visit student-athlete frequented areas on Bloomsburg University campus to target the college athlete demographic, such as the recreation center, the athletic fields on upper campus and basketball courts in the community. I would also be able to refer to previous research in order to target the amateur and/or professional athlete demographic. Using a panel study, measuring the same sample of respondents at different points in time while using the same questionnaire, I will gather my research.<br />-Dependent Variable<br />I have chosen my dependent variable to be steroid use, specifically among adolescents, high school students, college/amateur athletes, and professional athletes. I want to explore the reasons as to why some groups of individuals choose to use steroids, the role that the media and peers play in perpetuating the illegal use of steroids, and patterns in demographic information such as, socioeconomic status and the role it plays in an individual’s decision to use steroids. I will ask the participants the following question, using a nominal scale: at the period of time indicated, have you used steroids? Expecting either a yes or no answer. <br />-Independent Variables<br />The independent variables that I wish to explore include: media influence, body dissatisfaction, financial gain potential, age, socioeconomic status, and sport(s) played. Media influence is used as a variable to gauge to what extent media outlets such as television, the Internet and advertisements perpetuate their view of an “ideal” body and the affect it may have on athletes. The attributes will range from never being exposed to media outlets to being exposed every day. Body dissatisfaction is a subjective opinion on how each athlete feels about his or her body image ranging from very unhappy to completely satisfied. Financial gain potential is an interval measure of the possibility of an athlete making a certain amount of money at a certain level of athletic competition. It differs accordingly to each athlete’s age, highest level of academic achievement, level of athletic competition, demographic information, and as well as, performance. Age is an ordinal attribute that will be asked and broken down into four groups. 15 to 18 will deal with high school aged athletes, 19 – 22 indicates college aged and possibly amateur and/or professional athletes, 23-32 indicates either amateur or professional athletes deemed to be in their “athletic prime” and 33 to 45 will indicate either amateur or professional athletes deemed to be “passed their prime” or toward the end of their athletic sporting careers. Socioeconomic status is an ordinal measure used to gauge the status in society that an individual may occupy. It is divided into four groupings: lower class, working class, middle class, and upper class. Answers to this question will be used to find a correlation between class status and steroid use. The last variable is the sport or sports in which the athletes participate. This question will be used to measure whether trends or correlations exist among steroid use and particular sports and athletic events.<br />References<br /> Anabolic Steroids. (2007, September 6). ESPN.com. Retrieved May 4, 2011, from ESPN.com - SPECIAL - Anabolic steroids. (n.d.). ESPN: The Worldwide Leader In Sports. Retrieved May 4, 2011, from http://espn.go.com/special/s/drugsandsports<br />Baird, A. L., & Grieve, F. G. (2006). Exposure to Male Models in Advertisements Leads to a Decrease in Men's Body Satisfaction. North American Journal of Psychology, 8(1), 115-121.<br />Johnson, M. D., Jay, S., Shoup, B., & Rickert, V. I. (2001). Anabolic<br />Steroid Use by Male Adolescents. Pediatrics, 83(6), 921-924.<br />Karazsia, B., & Crowther, J. (2010). Sociocultural and Psychological Links to Men's Engagement in Risky Body Change Behaviors. Sex Roles, 63(9/10), 747-756.<br />Martin, D. M., Baron, D. A., & Gold, M. S. (2006). A Review of<br />Performance-Enhancing Drugs in Professional Sports and Their Spread to<br />Amateur Athletics, Adolescents, and Other At-Risk Populations. Journal<br />Of Addictive Diseases, 5-15.<br />Miller, K. E., Barnes, G. M., Sabo, D., Melnick, M. J., & Farrell, M. P.<br />(2002). A Comparison of Health Risk Behavior in Adolescent Users of<br />Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids, by Gender and Athlete Status. Sociology of<br />Sport Journal, 19(4), 385-402.<br />Rudolph, J. (2010). "The Hit Man From Washington": Place, Marketable Deviance, and Major League Baseball. In , Journal of Sport & Social Issues (pp. 62-85). doi:10.1177/0193723509359405<br />Sheinin, D. (n.d.). Baseball Has A Day of Reckoning In Congress (washingtonpost.com). The Washington Post: National, World & D.C. Area News and Headlines - The Washington Post. Retrieved May 4, 2011, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A43422-2005Mar17.html<br />Vassallo, M. J., & Olrich, T. W. (2010). Confidence by Injection: Male Users of Anabolic Steroids Speak of Increases In Perceived Confidence Through Anabolic Steroid Use. International Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 8(1), 70-80.<br />Questionnaire<br /><ul><li>Which age group do you fall into?