By Ken Reed
Given all the busts for using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in sports the last few years, and the difficulty in catching all the cheaters, there’s a growing movement to chuck the whole process, to let athletes do anything they want in order to get a performance edge.
In a recent commentary, Tom Murray wrote: “Some critics say the problem isn’t athletes who break the rules but the rules themselves — specifically, the prohibition on doping.” Others even suggest they’d like to see what human beings can do when they’ve maximized their PED regimen. They’re intrigued by the possibility of trying to find out what the limits of technology and science are in the area of sports doping. (We’ve seen what PEDs can do to an entire sport, including one of the sport’s most hallowed records, when we watched Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds make a mockery of the single season home run record in Major League Baseball.)
Those arguing “let them do what they will” miss the whole point of sports, the essence of the concept of sportsmanship: fair, natural competition between athletes who bring out the best in each other. Athletes who dope bring out the worst in themselves and their fellow competitors. By using PEDs, these athletes put extreme pressure on fair-minded competitors to cheat in order to remain competitive. That’s exactly what we’ve seen in the world of cycling, where more and more top cyclists are admitting using various doping techniques in order to have a chance at the winners’ podium.
There’s more and more money in sports these days and that money severely tests the ethics of today’s elite athletes. Greed and the WAAC (win-at-all-costs) mentality have become more prevalent. But we have a choice, either everything goes or we do what needs to be done to make our sports as fair, natural and healthy as possible. If we let anything go in sports when it comes to doping the health of athletes will be jeopardized, from the pros down to the youth level. Moreover, the foundational values that make sports so compelling to play and watch will be imperiled.
“The meaning of cycling, like the meaning of every sport worth the name, is in the values it fosters, the particular forms of human excellence it exhibits and the dedication each individual shows in perfecting his or her natural talents,” concludes Murray. “The rules against doping remind us what’s valuable about sport. They help us remember why we play.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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