I remember watching this 60 Minutes interview of Roger Clemens when it first aired. Watch the whole thing. Now that we know he was full of shit, it is fun to watch a liar lie. But to get to the heart of the matter, fast forward to around 7:40, where they start discussing the legal injections that Clemens regularly received:
Pain shots! To go out and perform. Had one of my biggest arguments with Joe Torrey, he’s wanting me to scratch me on one of the biggest starts of the season. Had a small tear in my hamstring and a golf ball in my elbow… and I told Joe Torrey, ‘I’ll be damned if fifteen minutes before a World Series game, I’m going to look my team mates in the eye and tell ‘em I can’t go.’ … ‘I’m gonna take this Tordol shot and hope it works.’
In a single interview, we discover that Clemens was given injections of Lidocane, Tordol, B12 shots, vitamines and unspecified other painkillers. All of them entirely legally. Oh! And he’s also worried about the Vioxx he was given. All of that was fine. But now that he and Lance Armstrong and a bunch of others have been caught or admitted to taking steroids, they’re pariahs. And why?
Because they were role models.
Role models. For sports in which players dope themselves up with all manner of drugs. Legally and with the blessing of the game. Where athletes use their bodies up to the point that one football player needed a spigot to drain blood out of an injury. Where other athletes, their bodies now used up, are apparently going to exotic locations to get raw stem cells injected into their bodies, in hopes of repairing their once-glorious physical conditions. Never minding that stem cells injected into a shoulder will probably not stay in the shoulder and that they could in any event become malignant tumors instead of svelte muscles.
In other words, out of a goodie bag full of stuff you can inject, there’s a list of stuff you can’t inject. Because you’re a role model. Because you’re moral. Because cheaters never prosper… Hell, why not just drop the pretense?
All drugs are henceforth fair game!! All manner of substance that you might wish to, in the words of George Carlin, drop, shoot, snort, rub into your belly, or whatever are entirely A.O.K. I’d like to see if it is possible to get a dead person high enough on steroids and synthetic adrenaline to play at least one period in hockey. At least on goal. Might just give new meaning to the term, “face off.”
I’m not seriously advocating that athletes be allowed to use “performance enhancing drugs,” I am questioning what the meaning of “performance enhancing” is? I’m asking why taking a drug “to go out and perform” doesn’t on its face mean that your performance is enhanced? And what is the role that we are modeling for our children?
I am also not advocating an end to sports. Even considering some of the things we’re learning about concussions and later neurological disorders. But if you’re hurt enough that you can’t take the field, maybe the lesson you ought to be teaching is: your job isn’t worth your life.