The PED Double Standard

As you all definitely know, baseball was hit by a steroid scandal yesterday.

You may have also heard that such a thing struck the NFL, where news again surfaced that Ray Lewis had used a type of “deer-antler spray” that contained a type of illegal hormone for muscle growth. I say “again” because this actually isn’t news, it had first been reported in 2011.

Of course, you probably never heard that, because use of PEDs in the NFL is usually overlooked, or just dismissed, or, in some cases, openly rewarded. Yesterday, for example, Ray Lewis simply said that he’d “never tested positive” and then that was it. ESPN did cover it, but it was nowhere near the level of what would have happened if, say, the same thing had happened to a MLB player the day before the World Series were to start.

(Also, they don’t test for the PED that Lewis is accused of, since the NFL doesn’t have blood tests, so Lewis’ denial, while technically true, isn’t exactly a declaration of innocence.)

It doesn’t stop there (go below the jump):

When Melky Cabrera was suspended this season, there was a panic over the fact that he would likely win the batting title, to the point where he asked that a rule be waived so that he wouldn’t win it. It’s unlikely that he will ever win any type of award or honor again.

In contrast, NFL players like Shawne Merriman and Brian Cushing have been busted for PEDs, and served suspensions, but still won awards and gone to Pro Bowls.

In a few years, Ray Lewis will almost certainly enter the Football Hall of Fame, despite these latest reports.

In contrast, players like Craig Biggio were not elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame this past election, despite the fact there is far less evidence on him than there is for Ray Lewis.

When football players are suspended for PED use, the first thoughts are generally about how it will affect their teams, both real and fantasy.

But when baseball players- especially stars- are suspended, it is as if the very fate of the republic is in danger! How will this affect the record books? Does this mean more testing needs to be done?

So why does this happen? Well, I have three theories:

1. It’s because of how football is basically modern day gladiatorial combat.

In other words, many people don’t care if the players take steroids, so long as they are doing amazing athletic and physical feats. This also proves troubling for the NFL because it also means that rules to stop the big hits (and thus avoid concussions and huge injuries) actually threaten to take away some of the very things that make the sport so popular.

2. The helmets and pads dehumanize football players.

You can’t see the faces of most NFL players, and the pads make them look even bigger than they already are. In some ways, they seem more machine than man. Contrast this to baseball, where you can see everyone’s face and get a good idea of how big or small everyone is. Thus, when you see that a baseball player is using PEDs, you can think of the face of a person, as opposed to the NFL, where you think of a helmet and uniform.

3. Records and history aren’t sacred in the NFL

Despite the fact that NFL Films is probably the best documentary unit in America, the NFL doesn’t care much for it’s history like baseball does. There aren’t many records that are etched in anybody’s memories -save for the 1972 Dolphins perfect season- and when they go down it is with little long-time buildup or fanfare. So if Player X were to break Player Y’s record in the NFL while using PEDs, it would be nowhere near the big deal as when, say, alleged steroid user Barry Bonds overtook Hank Aaron‘s HR record.

So what do you think?

One thought on “The PED Double Standard

  1. Of the three theories you present, I think #3 is the most likely. I believe several members of the 1970s Steelers have admitted to using steroids, and yet you don’t hear anyone clamoring for them to be stricken from the record books.

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