Steroids get a bad rap in sports, and rightfully so. After all, they give athletes an edge over their competition, and can subsequently take jobs away from “clean” athletes who are physically overmatched by “dirty” athletes.
Yet, a fundamental reason we spectators watch athletics is to witness, and vicariously share in and celebrate, the limits and athletic prowess of the human body.
This is one reason the Olympics has forever been successful, despite the fact that it often features sports that are obscure to the masses for the better part of 4 years.
Thing is, increases in human performance are beginning to taper down as we reach our genetic potential. Back in the 1900s one could break a world record in the 100m dash by a half second. Now, world records are lowered only by the hundredth, maybe a tenth if we are lucky.
Where is the fun in that? We can no longer go out and see something we haven’t (basically) seen before. If not for the actual stopwatches, no one would know the speed difference between Usain Bolt or Carl Lewis if not running against each other, because the speed difference that translates to even a huge 1/2 second difference in the 100m is likely not perceivable by the human eye.
And sure, sports have incredible value beyond just the limits of a singular performance, but thats not what is at issue here. I’m talking about the single physical events: the sprint, the distance of the homer, the throw, the swim. These are objective, relevant and salient without mention of other competitors.
Thus, I would like to make an appeal for the greatness of steroids on the grounds that they allow us to continue to explore the limits of the human body, knowing that our natural genetic potential for athletic feats will one day, if not already, be tapped without them.