Steroids are a big topic in the headlines of the sports world. Whether it’s in the
game of baseball where it’s most commonly heard or Olympians like track star Marion
Jones to athletes as famous as Lance Armstrong being accused of using steroids. Steroids
have mostly been brought up throughout professional sports, but with sports becoming so
competitive these days, some younger athletes have resorted to steroids to make it to the
next level. Every athlete wants to be faster and stronger to be the best, steroids are a
shortcut to get there, but with some consequences.
Steroids are currently in the news these days with the Barry Bonds case. Bonds was
currently on trial for lying to the court and lying about his usage of illegal drugs or
performance enhancing drugs. Steroids have always been a question in the back of people’s
minds when it comes to Barry Bonds and his legacy. Bonds is the all-time homerun leader
(762) and also holds the single season homerun record (73). Bonds is also a seven time
MVP and fourteen time all-star. Bonds was found guilty on the obstruction of justice count,
but was acquitted from three counts about lying about using steroids, HGH (human growth
hormone) and getting an injection from someone other than his doctor. Bonds is facing up
to 10 years in prison, but federal guidelines are saying more like 15-21 months. Bonds’
legacy will always be tarnished by steroids and how people view him not only as an athlete,
but also as a person. Experts say that what happened to Barry Bonds is more than likely to
happen to seven time all-star pitcher Roger Clemens.
Drugs that are referred to as “steroids” are classified as anabolic (anabolic-
androgenic). Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids (AAS) are a synthetic male hormone that
resembles the male sex hormone testosterone. Many athletes and bodybuilders use
steroids to build muscle and prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue. When steroids are
introduced to the body they increase the testosterone levels in the blood. These increased
levels of testosterone stimulate muscle tissues and fibers making them grow bigger and
stronger. Although steroids can help make an athlete stronger and faster, they do have so
unwanted and lethal side effects. Some of the side effects that can occur in men are
infertility, shrinking of the testicles, and severe acne. In women side effects include deeper
voice, excessive body hair growth and also severe acne. Some other effects of steroids can
be delayed growth in teens, rupture tendons, high blood pressure, heart attack, and cancer
to name a few. Also, the use of steroids is illegal without a prescription from a doctor for a
AAS can do some serious damage to all parts of your body. For instance, your liver
is an amazing organ that rids toxins and unwanted metals from your body. Steroids can
cause blood sacs to form on the liver which could cause internal bleeding which may be
fatal. Oral steroids are hard for the liver to breakdown; this causes your liver to raise your
bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease your good cholesterol (HDL). Another serious risk is
the formation of heart disease. Steroids can cause blockage in your arteries that can block
the blood flow to your heart or brain which can be fatal. The blockage gets worse as time
goes on and eventually the user will have a heart attack or stroke.
Steroids can also have reversible and irreversible effects on the body. One effect is
reduced sperm count and shrinking of the testicles. Having an excessive amount of
testosterone in your system can cause you to have acne breakouts, enlarged prostates and
balding. Extra testosterone can also be converted to the female hormone estrogen that can
cause breast development.
Another serious effect from using steroids is your psychiatric state of mind.
Symptoms include mood swings, anger, sadness, fatigue, increased aggression, and
depression. Another thing steroid users suffer from mentally is the fear of losing their
gains from lifting. This can psychologically affect the user making them take more and
more making them become an addict. Many steroid abusers due to their symptoms of
depression and anger often commit suicide. The biggest reason teens take steroids is to
enhance their athletic performance. However, teen girls may take steroids to look thinner.
Teenage girls these days live in a sexual environment where there is a lot of advertisement
about looking like a supermodel. This puts a lot of pressure on the teen girls that usually
are already self-consensus about the way they look and may turn to extreme measures to
look thin and fit.
Steroids can stunt the vertical growth of adolescent users. The Epiphysis plates
located on each end of the long bones is where vertical growth takes place. At the time of
maturity these plates fuse, thus definitively ending the vertical growth process. Too much
additional testosterone in an adolescent user’s body can cause hormones to send false
maturity messages resulting in the premature fusion of growth plates and reduction in
Teens would most likely have a hard time getting the material to sterilely injecting
steroids. Poor injecting techniques can lead to bacterial infections under the skin such as
abscesses, cellulitis, gangrene, and excessive the formation of scar tissue. The hazardous
practice of sharing needles can present a risk of transmitting AIDS, HIV and Hepatitis B or
Steroids are commonly taken by pills or injection directly into the muscles. People
who continuously take steroids are called abusers. Some research has shown that abusers
use ten times the amount of steroids than a prescription from a doctor for medical reasons.
Some street names for steroids include gym candy, roids, stackers, and juice.
Professional sports are trying to regulate and get rid of steroid use in their leagues.
A good place to start would be with teens in high school and college playing sports. Many
young athletes look up to their idols in professional sports, and if they see them doing
something such as steroids so will the teen. This is why we need professional athletes to be
positive role models and warn teens about the dangers of steroids. In some states it’s
mandatory to be tested by the school for steroids. These states include Maryland, Texas,
California, and Florida. Some schools in California are even making their athletes sign
pledges to not use them. If they don’t attend the meeting they can’t play. Educating young
athletes is the best way to help prevent them from using steroids. In recent studies, a
study of eighth, tenth, and twelfth grades, the percentages of teens using steroids has been
on the decline. They reached their highest percentage in 2003. Since then they have been
slowly declining. I believe the numbers has fallen because teens are becoming more
educated about steroids and the risks and negative effects they bring with them. I also
think that teens are staying away from steroids because colleges and professional leagues
are cracking down on enforcing and testing for steroid users.
Teens need to stay away from steroids not only because they are bad for you, but for
the way people begin to look at you. People begin to label you as a cheater, fake, and much
more. Using steroids also demonstrates poor sportsmanship. It’s better to lose with
integrity that you win knowing you had help. It’s not worth it to me to damage my body
over a gold medal or to hit a few more homeruns. Sure this will make a name for you, but
when you get caught, all your records and medals will be taken away from you. Then when
you hear that athlete’s name you don’t think about that medal or record, you think about
them being a cheater, and basically a thief for stealing something that they didn’t work for
Parents and coaches are a huge influence in most young athletes. Parents need to
talk to their athletes about the dangers about steroids and to stay away from them.
Coaches need to warn their players about the trouble they can get in if they are caught with
steroids and make the athletes realize that it’s not worth it.
Every athlete from the time they start playing a sport develops a competitive edge to
win. No matter how hard an athlete pushes to win, but might fail or lose, steroids are not
the answer or key to get over the hump. Young athletes need to know about the
importance of living a healthy lifestyle and staying away from the dangers of steroids.
Growing up, athletes must learn that real success comes from hard work and practice, not a
pill or syringe.
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