This week's Sports Illustrated examines performance enhancing drugs. While athletes, particularly professionals, have received the brunt of criticism when it comes to steroids and other PEDs, Sports Illustrated looks at the larger issue of an entire society obsessed with improved performance and better looks. We want to be bigger (or slimmer), faster, stronger. And we want it now.
There is an economic incentive to objectively performing or subjectively looking better. The reward for hitting .300 or having a face and body like Kate Moss can be tens of millions of dollars. As a result many young people -- often with implied approval from not just society, but also parents and coaches -- gladly accept the risk/reward tradeoff, especially if they believe it increases their chances at big bucks and glory. From the public's standpoint, we don't know much of a pro athlete or supermodel's success is the result of genetics and hard work or something illegal and unhealthy. But that really doesn't matter, does it? In the end, our society emphasizes a "just win, baby" mentality far more than hard-to-grasp concepts like health and fair play. Just don't get caught cheating, baby! (Too bad the negative effects of athletes using steroids can't be graphically depicted like bad celebrity plastic surgery.)
SI's Jack McCallum sums it up nicely:
We are a juiced nation. We are a nation on dope. We are a nation looking for enhancement, a way to age gracefully, perform better and longer, and, at the outer edge, vanquish what was once considered that alltime undefeated opponent known as aging. We do that by Botoxing our wrinkles, lifting our faces, reconstructing our noses, despidering our veins, tucking our tummies, augmenting our breasts and taking a little pill to make sure we're ready when, you know, the right time presents itself. We also do it by injecting human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone, America's new golden pharmaceutical couple.
The SI report also includes an important, "[Guide] to testing policies, from pros to high school."