Christianity and Steroids
What are you going to do when steroids become legal? I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to suggest that at some point in the near future anabolic steroids will not only be legal, but will be allowed within competitive sports like any other supplement. This will pose a problem to Christians that goes far beyond the fairness of such an allowance. The problem that will be faced is one already playing out: how far are we willing to go for victory?
If there is one thing sports teach well, it’s a good work ethic. The more you put in, the more you get out. If you’re not winning, you simply have to work harder. Watch more film, eat healthier, do another set. However, regardless of how much you do, there’s always going to be someone better. Eventually every athlete gets to a point where he has to choose to keep playing by the rules, and probably end up losing, or take it a step further. This ethical dilemma is the subject of the sports documentary “Bigger, Stronger, Faster.” What the director found in his inquiry was that the increasingly blurred line between what is fair and what isn’t in sports is not a result of the prevalence of steroids or other forms of cheating, but because as a society we have adopted the mindset of winning at all costs. As he puts it, the never ending quest to be bigger, stronger, and faster is a “side effect of being American.”
Kids grow up idolizing the best players, the winners, the champions. Their dream is to one day be a winner too. Yet, time has continually revealed that many of these champions did not always play by the rules. So kids are faced with a split message: on the one hand they are taught that winning is a good thing and that they should pursue it; on the other hand kids are told not to break the rules, although these rules are constantly changing. For instance, what about when gene changing becomes a reality? When discussing this possibility one person in the documentary joked that sports will have to be banned altogether.
So here’s the question for Christian athletes: do we have a sportsmanship problem at hand, or do we have a values problem? Are we going to have to come up with theologies for or against theology, genetic manipulation, and whatever else comes along? Or are we going to have to approach sports differently altogether?