Steroids in sports issue will not go away

By Rick Sobey

Staff Intern

It seems that every week there is yet another prominent baseball icon that has tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. It was recently discovered that New York Yankees' slugger Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003, former Boston Red Sox star Manny Ramirez was suspended for using artificial testosterone and Sammy Sosa (who hit more home runs than Roger Maris in one season) also used illegal supplements.

These players are supposed to be the role models for children who dream to play professional sports. Steve Allosso, the head football coach at Minnechaug Regional High School (MRHS), believes that these professional athletes have failed miserably at acting as role models.

"Taking steroids means that these professionals are lazy, lack confidence and take shortcuts," he said. "These are all the characteristics that you don't want in an athlete."

Allosso does not think that his athletes have mimicked the fraudulent professionals; his players stay away from performance enhancing drugs. "Steroids are farthest from these kids' minds," he said. "We teach them how to get stronger naturally through eating right and weight training.

"Steroids are shortcuts and need to be avoided," Allosso continued. "They come with many dangerous health risks."

Neil Nordstrom, the head baseball coach at MRHS, is quite upset with the professionals who cheated. "I am disappointed that they decided to make these choices," he said. "It devalues the game that I love to play and watch."

However, he believes that important lessons will be learned as a result of these positive tests. "I think that the positive steroid tests have opened the eyes of everyone involved in sports," Nordstrom said. "Hopefully it will cause players on the major league level to stop using these illegal drugs and we will see the game of baseball played the way it is supposed to be played."

Like Allosso, Nordstrom does not see his players imitating Ramirez, Rodriguez and Sosa. He has never heard anything in regards to steroid use with high school student athletes.

Both the MRHS football and baseball coach have not seen the need to talk with their players about steroids. "Steroids have never been brought up," Nordstrom said. "If I had to discuss this topic with the student athletes, I would explain that steroids are illegal drugs and they will do harm to the body. They are illegal, they violate the MIAA [Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association] policy and they are harmful to the body."

He might have to begin talking with his players about this issue since the steroid issue continues to grow. According to a survey by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, steroid use among high school students more than doubled between 1991 and 2003. More than six percent of 15,000 students surveyed admitted trying steroid pills or injections. A 2002 study by Texas A&M University estimated up to 42,000 high school students in Texas were abusing steroids.

The parents of Rob Garibaldi of Petaluma, Calif., and Taylor Hooton of Plano, Texas, would tell the MRHS coaches to begin lecturing their athletes about the dangers of steroids. These parents believe that steroids ultimately led to the death of their sons. Garibaldi and Hooton were both victims to steroid-induced depression that culminated in their suicides.

"There is no doubt in our minds that steroids killed our son," Denise Garibaldi told Congress.

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