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PEDs a Growing Problem in High School Sports

By: Chandler Timmer

In the world of sports today, the use of performance-enhancing drugs is well known. Many popular athletes have been caught and admitted to using them. Names such as Lance Armstrong, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, and Ryan Braun are some that come to mind. There are many more and the list goes on and on. Much controversy has surrounded how these stars were dealt with and how severe the punishment should be. One thing that often gets overlooked, however, is how the use of PEDs in professional leagues effects the kids who are surrounded by it. After a deeper look at some studies of drugs in high school sports, the facts are a little disturbing.

According to multiple reports, the use of human growth hormones (HGH) and steroids among high school students are on the rise. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids released a report saying that 11% of kids tested admitted to trying a form of synthetic HGH at least once. That number is up 5% is the last four years, but more than doubled in the past year alone. To go along with that is the increase of steroid use as well. The same survey found that 7% of kids admitted to taking steroids, up from 5% over the same period of time. These numbers are a clear indication that something is going wrong.

High School sports are getting more and more intense each year. Playing just about any sport now requires offseason training and improvement. There is a constant pressure for many players to get bigger, stronger, and faster. Many kids try to do things the right way, but when the results still aren’t meeting the expectations, things can get out of hand. Back in the day when steroids were unheard of in high school, sports went one season at a time. During baseball season you were working on your swing and fielding grounders, not weight lifting for football at the same time. During football season you were running plays and going over schemes, not playing team basketball tournaments on the weekends too. Each coach is fighting to get more time with their players all the time. They say they need more time together if they want to stay competitive with other teams. This may be true, but at what point does it get a little ridiculous. These are still teenage athletes we are talking about. “I think that it is a challenge, certainly to fight the external pressures that students face, and we know that, really, kids do face those pressures,” says Annie Skinner spokeswoman for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. ​”There’s the pressure to make the high school team. There’s the pressure to do the best you can in high school to get that college scholarship and so the pressures on young athletes are very intense.” This pressure put on kids is what is potentially pushing many to the extreme of PEDs.

The other issue is how the availability of these drugs is increasing. With the investigation of the Biogenesis of America clinic, which suspended 13 MLB players; it was discovered that two current high school and five recently graduated players were also linked to it’s illegal products. That may not seem like a lot, but that is just one supplier in one big city across the US. Surely there are many more like it that are undiscovered to this point. Do the math and you can start to see the developing issue. Along with that is the role the internet plays in the accessibility of PEDs. A simple Google search of PEDs results in hundreds of hits offering to sell them. There are numerous sites that will sell you their product from allover the world. All it takes is an online payment some shipping and before you know it a kid has his/her hands on them without even leaving the house. To say that idea isn’t at least a little concerning would be a lie.

These drugs are also causing serious health issues for the kids who decide to use them. Substances that many are taking are not meant to mix with developing bodies or full grown bodies for that matter. When taken in proper amounts, steroids are meant to help patients overcome illness. An interesting fact regarding that is that the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that abusers of steroids take doses that are 10 to 100 times higher than the doses taken by people with medical concerns. Taken in amounts like this it’s proven that it can be very harmful for humans to take. There are many cases of physical and mental problems for those who are using or used the drugs. One such example is Taylor Hooton. He was a high school athlete who fell into the pressure to succeed at a young age of 16. Over time his use got out of hand and his family knew something had to be done. After taking a doctor’s advice and fully quitting his steroid use, he went into a deep depression which eventually ended in his suicide. This is just one tragic case resulting for performance-enhancing drug use. Other side effects include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart problems, psychiatric disorders and halted growth. The decision to use drugs can very harmful.

“You want the stigma of being a cheater? I guess it doesn’t bother some people,” Dick Butkus told FOXSports.com. “Everyone feels they’re entitled to everything they can get by hook or crook. But that means there’s so much pressure on these kids, with their parents and their coaches.” Butkus, a former star NFL player and current Hall of Fame linebacker, runs a company that tries to prevent kids from giving in to the peer pressure of PEDs. His objective is to educate high school kids to train and eat right without falling into steroids. Doping in any sport is cheating, and it should be treated as such. It’s not ok for students to cheat on tests in school. If caught, the punishment can be anywhere from failing the grade to being suspended. This same approach should be true in sports. Get caught and get kicked off the team or don’t be allowed to play.

Moving forward, something needs to be done to address this issue. There are multiple ways schools and communities could try and attack it. One possible solution for high schools to limit cheating in their sports would be random testing, something nationally acclaimed Miami-Dade Public Schools is going to do. It wouldn’t have to be an every other week sort of thing. All that it would take to keep athletes in check would be the possibility of one test sometime during their season. Another possibility would be testing random athletes once during the year. This way too, kids would have to hesitate before giving in to PEDs because of potentially being caught. Knowing that their high school has and may do testing would do wonders towards giving kids a conscience not to do drugs. It wouldn’t take a lot to start straightening out the trend of drugs in high school sports. There’s no proven strategy. There’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer. What we need to do, however, is realize that this a real problem and that it needs to be taken care of before it gets out of hand.

 

 

Works Cited:

 

  1. Crary, David. “National Survey Finds Sharp Increase in Use of Synthetic Human Growth Hormones by Teens.” US News. U.S.News & World Report, 23 July 2014. Web. 27 Feb. 2015. <http://www.usnews.com/news/sports/articles/2014/07/23/survey-finds-sharp-increase-in-teen-use-of-hgh>.
  2. “Drugs in High School Sports: Fast Action On PEDs Warranted.” TheLedger.com. 10 Aug. 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2015. <http://www.theledger.com/article/20130810/EDIT01/130809230?p=2&tc=pg>.
  3. “No Easy Answers for PEDs, Youth.” FOX Sports. 28 May 2014. Web. 27 Feb. 2015. <http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/story/melky-cabrera-lance-armstrong-taylor-hooton-does-ped-use-among-pros-affect-youth-082912>.
  4. “The Pressures of High School Athletics.”Newport Academy. Web. 27 Feb. 2015. <http://www.newportacademy.com/the-pressures-of-high-school-athletics/>.
  5. Pilon, Mary. “Differing Views on Value of High School Tests.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 5 Jan. 2013. Web. 2 Mar. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/sports/drug-tests-for-high-school-athletes-fuel-debate.html?_r=1>.
  6. “Steroid Use Among High School Athletes – Global Sports Development.” Global Sports Development. 12 Nov. 2013. Web. 2 Mar. 2015. <http://globalsportsdevelopment.org/steroid-use-among-high-school-athletes/>.

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