Steroids in Youth Sport

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Kids used to join little league teams and be ecstatic to play baseball, football, and hockey. All around the country, young boys aspired to be the next Mickey Mantle or Roger Staubauch. As kids join teams in the hopes of realizing their ambition of being a professional athlete in their chosen sport, and as parents watch from the stands hoping their child doesn’t get hurt, the pressure to be larger, quicker, and stronger than the other person becomes increasingly difficult to ignore.

Every year, professional sports contracts pay out millions of dollars to each player, so a child’s fantasies can bring him fame and money. But only if he can beat out all the other kids who have the same desire. There are probably millions of kids who aspire to be a great pro quarterback among the 1,500 or so active professional football players. With those odds, students, coaches, and even parents begin seeking for a way to give their child an advantage. Despite the fact that they are illegal to use, an increasing number of children are turning to steroids for sale to gain the competitive advantage they desire.

Hormone medicines that make athletes stronger and more muscular are known as steroids. On the football field, this is a clear advantage. Kids understand that college recruiters will make offers to the best players to play on a college team throughout their high school sports years. Being recruited by a prominent college implies that the player will not only receive a free ride to college, but will also have the opportunity to play on a great team and possibly land a position with a professional squad. This is also true for baseball, soccer, and hockey players in high school. Steroids are sometimes introduced to kids as early as junior high school, and the temptation to be the best can make it difficult to resist. Additionally, some coaches and parents offer their children silent permission to use steroids because these professionals may understand the signals that an adolescent is using steroids but do nothing about it.

Steroid use can result in a variety of unpleasant side effects. Young guys who use steroids might soon get larger and more muscular. They may also have severe acne, be wobbly, have horrible body odor, experience mood swings, and become angry and difficult to get along with. Steroids can make girls moody, as well as give them facial hair and a deeper voice. Unfortunately, many of these issues are present into adolescence. Heart disease, liver damage, and testicular shrinkage are among of the more concerning adverse effects.

Side effects can be found in even over-the-counter steroids. Protein drinks and steroid powders can be found in health food stores, and children have easy access to them. Because juvenile steroid users are still growing, the harm that steroids cause them can be considerably greater than it is for adults. Even over-the-counter steroids can harm the kidneys and the heart.

In this country, up to thirty million children participate in sports, and up to 11% of those children have used or attempted to use steroids. Steroids are a controlled substance, and their use is prohibited. Sometimes a coach will administer steroids to a child. Recently, there have been reports in the news of coaches giving their athletes drugs or suggesting that they use steroids to improve their performance. The substance is usually introduced to them by another player, either because the user brags about using steroids or because a weaker player befriends a stronger player and the steroid user exposes his secret.

Because steroid usage among teenagers has become such an issue, parents, coaches, and other adults are taking steps to prevent it. In health class, some students learn about the use of steroids. Some schools compel kids who participate in sports to attend a presentation about steroid use in athletics. Other schools distribute a brochure or pamphlet to sports team members concerning steroid use. Even the NFL has gotten engaged in instructing kids not to use steroids to improve their athletic prowess. These groups have created an educational approach to prevent children from using steroids or to help them stop using them once they have started. Children understand that if they are detected using steroids, they will be removed from their sports team. They also understand that by taking steroids, they may grow bigger, stronger, and play better than other players, increasing their chances of winning.

For years, children have been taught that smoking, drinking, and doing drugs are harmful to their health. However, children continue to smoke, drink, and use drugs. Adults, too, smoke, drink, and use drugs. Some argue that all that is required to prevent children from performing these behaviors is to teach them that they are wrong. Others argue that if adults, namely parents, do not smoke, drink, or use drugs, their children will not. It’s clear that this method isn’t working because youngsters are still smoking, drinking, and using drugs, including steroids. For some children, education will work, but clearly not well enough. Random drug testing for high school sports team members is the only way to get the majority of kids off steroids. Since steroids are still a problem after years of education and millions of dollars invested to raise awareness, it’s clear that children need a more restrictive sports environment.

If random drug testing for juvenile athletes is combined with an education campaign, the majority of steroid users will be caught soon after they begin. Mandatory testing might be done on a regular basis in places where steroid usage is a serious concern. When kids realize that high school sports programs are serious about keeping steroid use out of high school sports, it’s likely that use will drop even more than it would with just education. There will very certainly always be some youngsters who try to get away with using steroids, and a system must be put in place to deal with them as well.

If an athlete tests positive for steroids, a zero tolerance policy can bar him from participating in sports for the rest of the school year. He is free to try out for the team again the following year. A three strikes and you’re out clause should also be included in the policy. After three positive tests, a player is no longer authorized to participate in school sports. Professional sports should be even more difficult to compete in. Any player who is detected using steroids should be permanently barred from the game. High school athletics should become steroid-free by educating, enforcing, and treating the usage of steroids.