Steroids: Braun and Rodriguez

steroidsDuring the fourth week in July, Ryan Braun accepted a 65-game suspension from baseball and admitted:

I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed. I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.”

Major League Baseball indicates several dozen players will be suspended over the coming weeks, including Alex Rodriguez.  Both Braun and Rodriguez are millionaires, with net worth’s of $130 and $300 million respectively. Thus, it’s highly doubtful either will be accepting unemployment insurance anytime soon.

Hall of Fame Pitcher Bob Feller once stated, “Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is.” But the thought that constantly gnaws at me is the “… love of the game” most expose, especially Braun, “… I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.”  It’s clear that neither player loved the game.

Almost anyone using performance-enhancing drugs does it to make the money, to get the long-term deal, to stay on the field. The decision has little to do with love; it’s basic math. No longer does a player’s performance rely solely on natural physical talent. To succeed, one must be spectacular.

If we claim to love baseball, then we must recognize steroids use is cheating. They create an unfair advantage, and this breaks ability of two teams having a fair contest. Strangely, steroid use is a federal crime.  While most state laws dictate that the sales and use of anabolic steroids, possession of steroids, or possession of steroids with intent to sell, are all classified as felonies, few states prosecute.

But why do we, as a society, as fans look the other way?  Why do professional players found abusing steroids not receive a lifetime ban like that of Pete Rose?  Why does someone using marijuana often receive a harsher prison sentence that of Mr. Braun or Rodriguez? Why do we as individuals and sports fans have so many contrary actions against those we claim to love?

Clearly, there’s no pope in Buddhism. Last I recall, Buddhism doesn’t have a big agenda on steroids where you go to Dharma talks and your teacher attempts to guilt you to stop. In truth, there are causes for all forms of suffering. And in this suffering world, there are greater injustices than Braun and Rodriguez.

Our actions go beyond laws of society. Unethical behavior involves a host problems, including actions banned in human rights, employment, health and safety, selling of defective products, and human trafficking and so on. There are no laws that cover the breaches within the confines of the human mind where lack of caring can easily become whole by simply by confessing the sin. May work in baseball but it doesn’t work that way in the real world. Trust me, I know.

Most of us have a personal double standard; we honor God, yet we tend to place greater value on profit than on well-being. And until we separate our attachment to such things, probably always will. People will puzzle over and debate this strange love and dance around steroid use. At the end of the day, each of us is responsible for our own legacy and three years from, few will care for either Braun or Rodriguez.

It’s nice to know that all things are impermanent – including Braun and Rodriguez.



Categories: Do No Harm, Life Lessons

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