PEDs and Your Young Athlete

Who didn’t want to be a professional athlete growing up?  We’ve all fantasized about seeing our name in lights or coming up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th or taking the last shot at the buzzer.  Of course, only the best of the best ever get the opportunity to compete at these elite levels and the road is fraught with tough competition and obstacles.  What we are beginning to see in the sports world is the alarming steps some will take to get ahead. So how it is affecting your future athlete?

Performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) have been a hot topic of discussion in sports for many years, but have only recently experienced a resurgence in discussion thanks to Major League Baseball’s Biogenesis scandal including several players, not the least of which being Alex Rodriguez and former National League MVP, Ryan Braun.  But this is not just a baseball problem. PED use in football is just as problematic.  Standout Denver Bronco linebacker, Von Miller, was suspended for 6 games for testing positive for a banned substance.  Even more recently, the current drug scandal surrounding NBA star, Lamar Odom, while not necessarily about PED use, highlights this issue.

                      

                                                                   Embattled New York Yankee third basemen, Alex Rodriguez - from nyulocal.com

An anabolic steroid, the most commonly used PED, is a substance that can be taken orally or injected and can build muscle, while enabling the user to train longer and harder.  The short term side effects of steroid use are numerous, not the least of which being an increased risk of cancer, heart and liver disease, abnormal sexual development, and aggressive behavior, more commonly known as “’roid rage”.  But long term, continuous use can also cause disturbing, irreversible side effects.  Our national partners at the Partnership at Drugfree.org have a detailed fact sheet dedicated steroids that any parent with a young athlete should read.

The message being sent to our kids by these professional athletes is that the only way they can realize their dreams is by taking these substances.  We, as parents, can’t control the actions of these athletes. We don’t have a say in what Major League Baseball or the National Football League or any professional sport does when punishing a player.  But we can control how these events are perceived by our kids.  Explain to them that players who do this are cheating. They aren’t being honest. 

If your kids have dreams of a career in professional sports, they need to know that the only way to get there is through hard work and perseverance.  The only way to get there is through practice and persistence.  And the only way they will know all this is if you, as their parent, are there supporting them every step of the way, through driving them to practices or even as simple as having a catch in the backyard.  Use this precious time to speak with them about the dangers of steroids and how important it is that they stay clean.

But even after all this, there’s a good chance that your kid still won’t make it, but more importantly, they will still have their integrity, their health, and the resolve to go forward.

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