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Editor’s note: This opinion is part of a point/counterpoint opinion feature about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports. Read the counterpoint, “A ‘marked’ career” by CU Independent Staff Writer Nathan Bellis.
I want a Big Mac – in the Baseball Hall of Fame, that is.
While I’m throwing my support for Mark McGwire, a 12-time Major League Baseball All-Star who once broke the single-season home run record and owns 583 home runs (eighth all-time), why don’t I include Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and Roger Clemens too?
In case you haven’t noticed, they all have admitted to or have been accused of taking performance-enhancing drugs, most notably steroids.
To me, they have done nothing wrong because of these two simple words:
Before I go any further, I would like to say that I don’t condone what McGwire or any of his performance-enhancing buddies did. But at the end of the day, they cheated because they felt compelled to.
I don’t blame them for cheating because you, me, the person to your left, the person to your right, McGwire, the list of cheaters is endless. We do it every day.
From middle school until the day I received my high school diploma, I remembered whenever I took a test I was unsure of but I had the answers to, I would place the notes in my backpack and leave my backpack open; whenever the teacher wasn’t looking, I leaned over, slipped my hands into the backpack, pulled out the answers and either quickly glanced at them or stuck it under my exam. I don’t think I ever got caught.
That was just one form of cheating. If my high school ever wanted to confiscate my diploma, then they are going to have to take away everyone’s diploma because my classmates didn’t just cheat, they probably cheated a lot more than I did.
And I’m sure you’ve cheated at least once in your life.
Did you tell a big fat rumor in high school just so you could get elected prom king or queen? Did you carry a fake ID just so you could enter clubs? Did you ever cheat on a significant other?
Those are just three examples of how people cheat in life. There are probably more ways to cheat in life than the $74,688,354 million McGwire has earned in his career.
But if you still think you don’t cheat, then do you drink Gatorade? How about energy drinks such as 5-Hour Energy or Red Bull? Soft drinks such as Coca-Cola or Pepsi? Or what about coffee?
“Gatorade is a performance-enhancing substance,” Bob Knight, the coach with the most wins in college basketball with 902 wins, said in defense of McGwire on Jan. 11. “It replaces electrolytes in the human body that are used up through extreme exercise.”
Energy drinks, soft drinks and coffee are no different. Consciously or subconsciously, people consume those items to stay awake. You can’t perform in the classrooms or at your job if you’re sleeping, now can you?
It’s no different in baseball. Players use amphetamines, otherwise known as “greenie” pills, as a stimulant when they feel too fatigued to perform. The substance wasn’t banned by MLB until the 2006 season, so imagine how many current Hall of Famers have ingested amphetamines.
Furthermore, the Baseball Hall of Fame is filled with suspicious characters.
Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker were suspected of fixing and gambling on a game played between Cobb’s Detroit Tigers and Speaker’s Cleveland Indians in 1919.
Gaylord Perry admitted to cheating by loading up baseballs with foreign substances, a pitch he called the spitball. Another way to interpret Perry’s actions is to watch the character Eddie Harris in “Major League.”
The point is, nobody is perfect and we shouldn’t punish McGwire or any of his cronies when cheating in society is common. The funny thing is, we as a society disparage cheaters but we can’t admit to ourselves that we cheat all the time. With that said, I have one parting message.
To the 411 Hall of Fame voters who didn’t cast a vote for McGwire this year, to the millions who criticize McGwire and other baseball players for cheating, and to my counterpart Nathan Bellis, please find it in your heart to forgive, but not forget. If not, then maybe you should be the one who is vilified.
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Cheng Sio at Cheng.email@example.com.