Monday, December 13, 2004

Performance Enhancement

Just a quick note today about something that struck me as one of those " WOW! I never thought of it like that!" moments that we sometimes have. The thought was about the current steroid controversy in sports, specifically, baseball.

Now, right off the bat (pun intended), let me say that I disapprove of the use of steroids in sports. But not for what the usual pundits cry out, i.e. "they ruin the integrity of the game." What they mean to say is "we can no longer compare statistics of today's ballplayers with the Babe Ruths, Ty Cobbs, and the older generations." Well, DUH! Today's ballplayers, in almost all sports, are better than the past generations. They are bigger, stronger, faster, in better condition, and almost any other parameter you can name. Except, perhaps, their love of the game and respect for the fans. But that is a subject for another entry.

But, I wonder how the argument against "performance enhancing" drugs really holds up without the veil of "it's the principle of the thing, dammit!" Don't most of us use "performance enhancing drugs" to do our jobs better?? How many people are using Prozac (or Paxil, Zoloft, ad infinitum) so that we can wake up, get out of bed and not think about blowing our brains out in the bathroom from depression? How many of us use Paxil or Ativan to overcome our social anxiety so that we can use a keyboard in a crowded office without our sweaty palms dripping in the keyboard and shorting out the machine? How many of us are taking something for Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (AADD) so that we can concentrate and do our jobs? Are these not "performance enhancing drugs?" I wonder.

Even more of stretch but possibly relevant, how many of us take something for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, migraine headaches, low thyroid, sexual disfunction, or irritable bowel syndrome? I would venture to say that a majority of adults take SOMETHING for one or more of these conditions. Are these not performance enhancing? Do they not cut down our sick days and increase the length of years we will be able to work before we go on disability or die? Is that performance enhancing??

Now before you shout out "yeah, but steroids are illegal!" I know that. That is the same reason we cannot use cocaine in the office to improve our energy level and the same reason we cannot smoke a join (a "blunt" for new generation) to calm us down on the drive to work. I am not justifying the use of illegal drugs in the workplace or any place else.

My point is simply this: Many of us use what are, in my opinion, performance enhancing drugs every day. Legally and under (presumably) a physician's direction. But we should look at our world - and the world of sports - with a little less of a jaundice eye and accept the fact that our modern work is full of performance enhancing drugs. Athletes who used banned drugs are wrong and should be punished. But perhaps we, as "drug-modified" humans, ourselves should not get so outraged when we hear about it in other workplaces.

Let he who is without pills throw the first stone.

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