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
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Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
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.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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