Several years ago, during one of our bi-annual, soul-searching discussions of performance enhancing drugs in baseball and their influence on children I wrote this blog about the obvious usage of performance enhancing drugs among hip hop stars. Around a year later, big revelations abounded about hip hop stars using substances that were banned among professional athletes. Of course one friend of mine commented on my small bit of muckraking blogging, but no one else noticed (or cared, or remembered, take your pick). But now, amidst another attempt of baseball to purge itself of the scourge of PED, baseball is going after big names like former NL MVP Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez (I assume at this point Bud Selig will attempt to crucify Alex Rodriguez or burn him at the stake – like or hate A-Rod but baseball is probably sad they never got Barry Bonds and now they want A-Rod to pay for both his and Bonds’ sins. He is an easy target of derision, but that still does not justify a potential lifetime ban from the sport). What baseball fails to realize is that this sport is dying. It represents all the things that are either wrong with our culture or stands in opposition to more popular trends.
Teams like the NY Yankees and Los Angeles Angels represent financial recklessness without consequences as they continue to barely compete with absurd payrolls presenting a joyless experience to all but their most hardened fans, while increasing an already cynical view of the sport amongst many smaller market teams (A/K/A the small businesses that both politicians and MLB pretend to care about). Also, the sport is long and tedious in a culture that has shorter attention spans and increasingly enjoys the instant force and gratification of MMA and NFL.
But yet we keep pursuing “cheats” in baseball, as if it will correct the impurities of the past, like 1998 or 2003 when people actually cared about baseball. Why? Because the players were on all sorts of drugs which made a boring sport exciting. The best Summer of baseball in my lifetime is still the McGwire-Sosa chase in 1998. Nothing else has compared since. But the argument has always been about kids. Like if teens find out their favorite athlete got big and successful from PED then they will take them too and potentially harm themselves. The problem with this is that baseball is not as popular as it once was. Instead, if you want to worry about kids and PED, perhaps policing Hollywood and bringing guys like The Rock and Hugh Jackman in front of Congress would be better.
Anyone who has seen a recent The Rock movie or especially Jackman’s homage to veins, The Wolverine, knows that these guys, both in their forties (which Science has always said is when men peak athletically and physically, right?), are not just eating raw eggs and steak. In fact in interviews, Jackman credits The Rock for his diet and exercise plan, maybe making The Rock the Jose Canseco to Jackman’s McGwire (calories – check, exercise – check, syringe and creams – check). The point of this is that these guys, just like hip hop stars, are selling their bodies as engines of wealth and fame and sex and yet they are not subject to the scrutiny of athletes, who at least are actually using their bodies for actual healthy activity and achievement, not just the impression of it. And now, more than ever, in the midst of a vain, superficial and nerd-obsessed culture with more Comic-Con attendees and theater arts majors than ever before, we owe it to our society to stop guys like The Rock and Hugh Jackman from endangering our youth and our society. Here are just a few of the potentially devastating effects on our youth and culture from their example, all of which far exceed the influence of modern baseball players:
1) Nerds have taken over. Do we really want buff nerds? Imagine if that kid that cannot stop seriously debating comic books and dungeons and dragons could bench press 400 lbs. He never had the stomach for heavy bouts of exercise and could not choke down protein shakes because of his lactose intolerance, but now thanks to Wolverine he can do it!
2) Kids do not want to be baseball players. They want to major in dramatic arts and go to Comic Cons. Perhaps 15 years ago sports were the main form of youth entertainment, but now kids dress up for movies, go to conventions and major in theater (even if they like comic book science they would rather pretend to be a comic book character that knows science than actually major in a Science). So now, any theater geek not doing PEDs to fit in or stand out within the gay community will be roiding it up just for a chance to be in the next action movie.
3) Seriously, just Google some recent images of Hugh Jackman and The Rock, then Google “Sammy Sosa – new skin”. Apparently if you do the stuff that Hugh Jackman does, your veins will be nominated for Golden Globes. You do that ancient stuff baseball players do you turn into a Wayans Brother in White Girls.
So unlike baseball PED scandals, which only had the potential to endanger some youth, the Hollywood PED usage has the chance to make life worse for all Americans. Save our children and save us from the nerds.