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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bill James On Cooperstown And Steroids

Perhaps the most intelligent thing I've ever read on the subject (PDF). Excerpt:
... steroids keep you young. You may not like to hear it stated that way, because steroids are evil, wicked, mean and nasty and youth is a good thing, but…that’s what it means. Steroids help the athlete resist the effects of aging.

Well, if steroids help keep you young, what’s wrong with that?

What’s wrong with that is that steroids may help keep players “young” at some risk to their health, and the use of steroids by athletes may lead non-athletes to risk their health as well. But the fact is that, with time, the use of drugs like steroids will not disappear from our culture. It will, in fact, grow, eventually becoming so common that it might almost be said to be ubiquitous. Everybody wants to stay young. As we move forward in time, more and more people are going to use more and more drugs in an effort to stay young. Many of these drugs are going to be steroids or the descendants of steroids.

If we look into the future, then, we can reliably foresee a time in which everybody is going to be using steroids or their pharmaceutical descendants. We will learn to control the health risks of these drugs, or we will develop alternatives to them. Once that happens, people will start living to age 200 or 300 or 1,000, and doctors will begin routinely prescribing drugs to help you live to be 200 or 300 or 1,000. If you look into the future 40 or 50 years, I think it is quite likely that every citizen will routinely take anti-aging pills every day.

How, then, are those people of the future — who are taking steroids every day — going to look back on baseball players who used steroids? They’re going to look back on them as pioneers. They’re going to look back at it and say “So what?”

A-men, and hallelujah.

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