Monday, August 28, 2006

Drugs & Sports

One of the ironies of this current obsession with performance-enhancing drugs is that many of the old athletes didn't train at all. Babe Ruth often spent the night smoking, drinking, eating and carousing with women. He would show up at the ballpark hung over, eat 12 hot dogs and wash them down with six bottles of pop, then waddle out to the plate, his big belly emphasized by his spindly legs, and hit home runs. He had phenomenal eyesight, unusual depth perception, extremely good hand-eye coordination and lightning reflexes. Every one of those was a natural gift. You either have them or you don't.

The real solution to the drug problem starts with childhood. Americans have to get over this obsession that winning is everything. Children should be taught that there are things more important than winning, such as good behavior, honesty and the satisfaction of playing the game. Parents should teach children to be gracious in both victory and defeat. It is the obsession with winning that often drives young athletes to steroids and other drugs, and nine times out of 10 that obsession comes from demanding parents.

Winning is everything in a gunfight, but sports are just games to be played for enjoyment. It doesn't really matter who wins as long as both sides have a good time. The old Buddhist saying – Do your best, but don't worry about the outcome – applies to sports as well as to life in general.


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