I've stayed away from talking about steroid use in baseball. It's not that I don't have thoughts about the issue--I don't think you can be a baseball fan and not have a stand. But I'm more concerned about how sports seems to enable behavior that not only puts the players at risk, but all those around them. I've written about this before in a post The Hard Reality of Sports. That was about sad stories that showed up in the Digest column of the SF Chronicle sports section. In today's Digest, more sad, upsetting news.
The first story involved former NFL running back Lawrence Phillips, who has been charged with 7 counts of assault with a deadly weapon, 2 counts of child abuse and 1 count of hit and run. Prosecuters in Los Angeles say he drove a vehicle into 3 teenagers who argued with him following a pickup footbal game. Police in San Diego have also been looking for Phillips for "allegedly attacking his girlfriend twice, once choking her into unconsciousness." In a related story, you can read some details his trail of violence. In 1995 he pleaded no contest to assaulting his girlfriend while still at school at Nebraska. In 1996 he was drafted 6th overall by the St. Louis Rams. I remember being so appalled at the time that I refused to watch any Rams games, even when they were playing my beloved Giants. A small gesture, but something I could do. And as you can read in the article, the trail of violence continued.
The second story involved former Raiders center Barret Robbins. His problems are so deep, it's scary. He's in a Houston psychiatric hospital since his arrest on a marijuana possession charge. But a judge in Florida revoked his bail and wants him back to face charges of attempted murder stemming from an incident involving burglary and and attacking police officers. He has well documented bi polar issues, but the reason he was finally released from the Raiders was because he tested positive for steroids.
The third short blurb in the Digest that caught my eye was about Dwight Gooden--former star player for the Mets. He was called "Dr. K" in honor of all the strike outs he got. You can find a longer version of the story here. He is being sought by Florida police on a felony warrent. Allegedy, he drove away from an officer when he was stopped on suspicion of drunken driving. His history of drug abuse and addiction is also well documented.
I'm not saying that the issue of steroids in sports is not serious and should not be dealt with--it most certainly should. But we need to also look at other kinds of behaviors that seem to becoming more and more prevalent in the sports world. Do we need to wait until someone dies, either by their own hand or at the mercy of an out-of-control personality. We may not be able to save all the troubled souls, but with treatment and help and most of all recognition of the problem, we might be able to save lives. Not only the lives of the players, but of those around them. How long can we just enable this behavior in the name of entertainment??