So, I was watching “1st and 10” this morning, and Skip Bayless – as he always does – says something that I knew was going to irk a lot of people. He was speaking in response to Hank Aaron’s comments against those named in the 2003 MLB steroids list. Skip questioned whether, if Aaron had played in the “Steroid Era,” he would at least be TEMPTED to use steroids, as well.
This obviously caused a stir among the general sports fandom.
Personally, at first glance, I could see why. To say that Aaron might have used in that instance could be seen as an outright attack on his credibility and his pride. I see that, and I get that.
The truth is, I’m siding with Skip on this one.
Now, hear me out. What many people seem to miss is this: they tend to see their sports legends in a vacuum. Obviously, Aaron can sit back and condemn those who used steroids because he never had to. The problem is, he can’t say for sure he wouldn’t use steroids, if inserted in the same era as Sosa, McGwire and Bonds.
Let’s make this clear: when looking at the situation, the question is NOT about integrity. No one can question that Hank Aaron is an honorable man. But, put yourself in this hypothetical: you’re 25, and you’re known as a slugger. You haven’t topped 50 HRs in a season in your entire career. You look around the league, and you start seeing other sluggers – like McGwire, Sosa and Bonds – hitting 50, 55, 60 HRs a season. If you’re hitting 30 a season, your reputation as a dangerous slugger goes down. You know that those players, hitting more HRs than you, are using steroids. You know that the league doesn’t test for them, and you know that those players using steroids are passing you by. This affects you psychologically, as well as on the field.
Can you REALLY say you wouldn’t use? Like Skip, I can’t say that you wouldn’t. Not even Hank Aaron. Like I said before – this isn’t a question of integrity; it’s a question of survival. Many players in the Steroid Era that used, probably did so to keep their jobs. I’m not justifying it: I’m just saying. And, the truth is, no one can say for certain what they do in a given situation, unless they EXPERIENCE it. While I respect Hank Aaron and all he’s been through as a player and a legend … no one’s perfect. He can say he would have never taken steroids, but we’ll never know what he really would have done if faced with the dilemma.