Steroids: From Major Leagues to Little Leagues

EMIN AVAKIAN
El Vaquero Sports Editor

A little girl looks up and sees a billboard of her favorite celebrity and promises herself to look like the celebrity one day. Which of these three options is the more likely approach this little girl will choose: eat and drink healthier, exercise or take steroids?

If you guessed the little girl is going to take steroids, you’re right.
An alarming number of young girls, some as young as 9 years old, are using bodybuilding steroids, not necessarily to get an edge on the playing field, but also to get the toned, sculpted look of models and movie stars.

So, what is the connection to sports you ask?

The girls abusing the steroids are getting their hands on the same dangerous testosterone pills, shots and creams that have created a scandal in Major League Baseball and other sports.

According to government and university studies, up to about five percent of high school girls and seven percent of middle school girls have admitted to trying anabolic steroids at least once.

In teenage girls, the side effects from taking steroids can include severe acne, smaller breasts, deeper voices, irregular periods, excess facial and body hair, depression, paranoia and fits of anger called “roid rage.” Steroids also carry high risks of heart attack, stroke and some forms of cancer.

Listen, if Barry Bonds admits to have taken steroids, then that would not be a big surprise. If Brian Urlacher comes out and says he took steroids, even that would not be a big surprise. But if a 14-year-old girl confesses to having taken steroids, then we would have a serious problem on our hands.

Researchers attribute some of the increase in steroid use to girls’ rising participation in sports.

“You see them [female athletes] using it more as weight control and body fat reduction,” said Jeff Hoerger, who runs the staff counseling program at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Hoerger has helped two young women with using steroids. One of the girls was an 11th-grade swimmer with “an average figure” whose friend suggested steroids would help with weight loss. “She was just looking for quick results,” Hoerger said.

The question is: Where are the parents of these athlets?

The blame goes squarely on these irresponsible parents. Not the girls taking the steroids because they do not know any better, and not the coaches because what is more important to them than winning? As legendary head coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

Coaches coach and players play. Parents teach life lessons.

Researchers say youngsters generally get illegal anabolic steroids on the black market, from the local gym and over the Internet. At least one study indicates some parents and coaches supply steroids to teen athletes.

There is a fine line between “soccer mom” and mother.

The most unfortunate fact is that steroids have taken the place of exercising, because of its immediate results.