Washington Post Highlights AP Story On USADA Research Of Athletes, Drugs, & Ethics

I have to applaud The Washington Post for their interest in the Associated Press' highlighting of recent research (by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) into opinions of adults, athletes, coaches, educators, and kids on the use of PEDs  by athletes.

Based on how often unethical behavior, drugs and athletes are connected in the media, you might think that people have come to accept this as just a normal part of that environment and think it "no big deal." However, the Post's article, New research for USADA finds most American adults view athletes' drug use as ethics breach, helps to set the record straight as the USADA research they highlighted (sampling 9000 Americans) identified that:

• 75% of adults surveyed agreed that athletes' use of performance-enhancing drugs is a violation of ethics in sports.
• the use of PEDs as most serious problem in sports, followed by the focus on money and criminal behavior of well-known athletes.
• 90 % of adults surveyed agreed that well-known athletes have a responsibility to be positive role models for young people.
• sixty percent of adults said sports promote positive values, while four out of five said they can teach valuable life lessons.
• nearly two-thirds of adults agree sports overemphasize the importance of winning, while 20 percent have admitted to cheating and 41 percent who admitted to it said they were motivated by their desire to be a winner.

As I read through the article and the statistics it provides, I could not help but think about how quickly the loss of perspective in sports developed, gaining momentum as each year of my teaching and coaching career progressed. Included in this rapid evolution was the apparent disconnect between what I had learned through my own athletic experiences (both in high school and in college) and what I saw playing out in the media.

And as the years passed and my kids developed a strong interest and involvement in sports, it became more and more clear that things were amiss as they advanced through their youth, club, junior high, high school, and college athletic experiences. It was during all of this that I came to realize how the loss of perspective and "winning at all costs" attitudes so prevalent in our professional and Olympic sports culture had permeated down into the youth level. As I've inferred in past articles, hardly a week goes by where an athlete, coach or someone else involved in sports doesn't exhibit some type of "bad" behavior. Especially if you include all levels of sports; youth, club, high school, college, Olympic or elite level, and professional.

Confirm this for yourself by typing into a Google search engine, athletes, coaches, or sports parents behaving badly, and see what comes up. Lots of interesting reading material here.

So what is my point? Well...that a majority of people still think that ethics and sports should go together. That most believe there are solid, lifelong values and lessons one can learn through participation in sports and that those who reach the pinnacle of their sport "have a responsibility to be positive role models for young people."

Sorry, Mr. Charles Barkley, 90% of the masses would disagree with your statement that you are not a role model, something both New York Post sports watchdog Phil Mushnick and former NBA superstar Karl Malone beg to differ with you on as they clearly point out in a 1993 Newsweek article:

"Funny, how big shots accept all the trappings of role modeldom--especially the residual commercial cash-before they renounce their broader responsibilities to society,"

                                                                                                          Phil Mushnick

"Charles...I don't think it's your decision to make. We don't choose to be role models, we are chosen. Our only choice is whether to be a good role model or a bad one."

                                                                                                         Karl Malone

Even though these statements were made nearly 20 years ago, they are even more relevant today.

Well said guys, well said!!!

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