Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Why you should be concerned about steroids.

Texas Tech off the bubble (maybe)

While I was caught up in other things this weekend, my beloved Red Raiders did something they have never done under Bob Knight and haven't done since 1998:
Beat Oklahoma in Norman. It's big for several reasons. First, Texas Tech got a road win against an upper-echelon Big XII team, which was usually an automatic "L" in the past. Second, Texas Tech may now be officially off the bubble because the committe like road wins and wins against top 25 RPI teams. Finally, Texas Tech was 4th place after the game and 2 games up on Texas. (Currently Tech is in 3rd after OU lost on Big Monday, but only a 1/2 game up on the Sooners)

Problem is, I live in Austin (home of the University of Texas) and it's tough to get a Texas Tech game here without plunking down for Digital Cable and getting ESPN Full Court, and I was already over the "fun budget" for the week and couldn't go to Rhinos and Jocks (my neighborhood sports bar). So I missed it. Which stinks because it will probably be one of the landmark wins for this program. And I want to know if (and if they did, how) they stopped Bookout and Gray and how they beat the zone that OU likes to throw at us.

Big Monday Notes

The Barry Bonds effect.

Often lost in the discussion on steroids and pro sports is its impact on the up and coming athletes still in high school. Which is why
this week's series in the Dallas Morning News on steroid use in high schools should be required reading for all parents of teenage athletes, and sports fans in general.

Because it is going on. In your town. At your high school.

I'm a substitute teacher at my old high school (near Austin) and I've seen the athletes. Some of them are almost NFL-sized. They never were that big when I was going to school there. In fact, when I was going to school, my high school used to always be "undersized" compared to other schools.

Some of the major things the DMN uncovered at Dallas-area high schools (again, this could easily be your high school) :
  • Steroids are very easy to obtain due to a of lack of federal and state resources. (They got lucky and stumbled on to BALCO, but there's still more labs out there).
  • Coaches and administrators can't deal with the problem because of over-litigious parents.
  • It's often too expensive for school authorities to run an effective screening program
  • There is an increased use among non-athlete males.
  • A lot of kids and don't see it as a problem or a bad thing, nor do they understand the health risks.
  • It's not considered a "bad kid drug" because the "Big Men On Campus" do it most.
  • Steroid use is becoming a gateway drug for other drug abuse, mostly perscription drugs.
  • Parents are either naive or don't care. (Which, by the way, is the root of most teenage drug problems. Ever wonder why they have to run "Parents, The Anti-Drug" ads?)

Let's review why steroids are bad for teens, since most of you don't seem to care. First off, it causes developmental problems in teens (stunted growth, decreased male organ size, "man boobs" in men; irregular periods, deepened voice, increased facial hair and reduced breast size in women; infertility in both) because it shuts down the production of naturally produced hormones. Second, it increases bad cholesterol in teens (already a problem because of the average teen diet), increases the risk of stroke and shortens their life. Thirdly, it leads to depression, which increases the chance of more steroid use, other drug use, relapse, and suicide. Finally, it increases the risk of soft tissue injuries, which short-circuits a teens chances of getting that scholarship or minor-league baseball or hockey contract he was taking the steroids to get in the first place.

This is why it needs to be stopped.

This is why Victor Conte and every other steroid lab owner needs to go down.

This is why Jose Canseco needs to stop publishing his tell-all book so we can focus on the real face of the steroid issue: our kids.

This is why parents, coaches, and administrators should care and do something about it.

Tomorrow: The Illini "Undefeated Victory Tour" continues.

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