How nice it was for me to see my Google alerts come up with an article last week about Dick Butkus and his mission with I Play Clean, an organization dedicated to getting the word out to teen athletes and parents about the dangers of steroid and PED use.
KearnyHub.com website, out of Kearny, Nebraska, highlighted Butkus's visit to Nebraska State Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (Hall of Famer Butkus talks in Kearney on dangers of steroids) where he spoke to over 150 coaches and members of this organization about the steroid issue. The article states that one high school athlete for every six is currently using these illegal substances.
According to Butkus, that means,
"A half-million to a million kids admit it (using steroids) ... . That might not seem like a big number compared to the totality of all high school athletes, but if you're a parent and you lose one of those, it's a pretty big stat."
"Many parents have said to me, 'If I only knew what the signs were, maybe I could have done something before it was too late.'"
And that last quote above brings home what his organization I Play Clean is all about - to make a difference with athletes and the choices they make regarding these potent substances and the damage they can cause. A damage that not only focuses on the physical risks one takes when using, but also the intrinsic qualities of character and integrity one gives up - something surely in short supply these days.
What does Butkus see as one reason behind said use - the chance to go professional, as slim as that might be.
"Is it worth risking your health to chase a rainbow that you might make it to the pro level? You may just as well get to that level by training hard, eating right and playing with an attitude," Butkus said. "...I never used steroids, and I seemed to do okay."
Just okay??? Well, without getting into a long list of his achievements, which would have to include the fear Mr. Butkus instilled in his opponents whenever he stepped onto the gridiron, let's just say that he did a canyon's distance better than just OK!!!
To have an athlete of this caliber, one of the greatest to have ever played the game (Football), start a movement that embraces the idea of playing sports from the inside-out by condemning the cheating and unhealthy behavior associated with steroids and PED's speaks volumes. In totality, it represents a lot of what my own blog here at ChicagoNow is all about - making a difference for athletes.
If you want to hear Butkus himself speak on the steroid issue, click the link below for the video at KearnyHub.com.