Sivyer 1 Nicole Sivyer ENC1102 Joseph Cottle February 10, 2013 Sports: The Hidden Path to Destruction Sports have been an influential part of American culture for centuries. In almost every city there is some type of professional sports team, not to mention numerous little league, recreational, intramural, or youth all-star teams. From the time kids can first walk to when they grow into adults, sports are pushed onto them as if playing a sport is a necessity for life. Sports are arguably held to too high of a standard in American culture. The high standards lead to bad influences and outcomes such as illegal school recruitment, injuries, the use of performance enhancing drugs, unfair pay for professional athletes, unfair scholarships along with turning focus away from academics, and the animalistic behavior that consumes the fans. These negative effects are most often overlooked because of the winning records and successful seasons for many teams. However, “winning” is not worth the stressful and unfair lives that some athletes live. Illegal recruitment of amateur athletes has become a growing issue. Dexter Wood, athletic director at Buford High School in Georgia, stated "parents are looking for the best situation for their kids, in many cases wherever they can get a scholarship opportunity" (Pearl). No one cares about homeland pride or better academic opportunities anymore; it is all about money. Students and their families have been moving more than ever so that the children can have a better opportunity on another team. Violations of recruitment happen everywhere, including coaches convincing players to transfer from
Sivyer 2 one school to the next when a coach does so himself, coaches driving potential players to and from practices, parents falsifying addresses on forms in order for their child to be able to attend a certain school, and one instance where a coach became the legal guardian of a player in order for the kid to live with him and still be legally allowed on the team (Pearl). Dr. Swearngin, head of the GHSA (Georgia High School Association), stated, “we live in a free country. The GHSA or anybody else cannot tell a family that they cannot move during their child's high school career" (Pearl). However, even though something like voluntarily moving to another city or location just to play on a better team is legal is it morally correct? Honestly, probably not, especially in a case where the legal guardianship of a child is being taken into account. Coaches are taking recruitment far too seriously. Yes, winning is always important but it will never be more important than the feeling of building up a successful team from what you already have and being fair in all of your efforts while doing so. The dangers and injuries from over-exercising can be harmful to anyone, especially young kids or teens. Effects such as “cramping, heart palpitations, dysphoria, nausea, vomiting and even passing out can occur when you over-exercise and become dehydrated” (Mann). Many sports including soccer and football are outdoors and require long amounts of running and exercising, causing athletes to overheat and dehydrate. Since sports are so important in America, athletes will sometimes play through their nausea and uncomfort until their bodies cannot take it any longer. During extended workouts, “once you have fatigued your muscles, you put yourself at risk for harm such as muscle pulls and strains…if you over-exercise, your body then dips into muscle mass stores. This actually eats away at the muscle you are trying to build and strengthen”
Sivyer 3 (Mann). Instead of the body’s glycogen and fat stores, the body starts to lose muscle once a point of over-exercising and improper nutrition consumption occurs. Not to mention, some sports are very violent. I play rugby and there are injuries upon injuries that occur in every game. I have yet to play in a game where at least one person did not get carried off the field. I happen to be one of those athletes that are completely consumed by the sport because I was brought up to tough it out through injuries. In the past semester I have piled up a list of injuries including a concussion, another minor concussion, a bloody nose, a sprained ankle, a pulled groin, and numerous bruises along my entire body. If I did not have so much love for the sport I would have been in my right mind to quit long ago. Nevertheless, society needs to take injuries more seriously because as much fun as sports are, they are never worth acquiring life-long injuries. Sometimes, in order to prevent injuries and still be able to over-train, athletes will use performance-enhancing drugs. Illegal drug use in sports has grown rapidly in recent years. The athletes that misuse drugs, for the most part, “use drugs deliberately - either on their own initiative or at the behest of coaches or officials - to cheat, to try to improve their performance artificially and to improve their chances of winning” along with trying to increase their financial gain (Baume). Drug testing is prevalent in some but not all sports and only at certain levels. The use of anabolic steroids, stimulants, steroid masking agents, and steroid precursors is becoming out of control. The sports associations that have outlawed the use of steroids include: the IOC (International Olympic Committee), NHL, NCAA, NBA, NFL, MLB, and FIFA (Steroid Statistics). When it comes to testing for drugs, even though it “has become more rigorous, new forms of undetectable doping have appeared…Research efforts have intensified to develop tests for the substances”
Sivyer 4 (Baume). Sadly, the 2002 Monitoring the Future survey studied school-age male students and “revealed 22% of 8th graders and 46.1% of 12th graders said that it is fairly easy for them to obtain steroids” (Steroid Statistics). Steroid abusers see effects such as high blood pressure, liver damage, body hair growth for females, increased aggressiveness, shrunken testicles, weight problems, and cardiovascular disease (Side Effects of Steroid Use). These effects only happen in cases when steroid use is abused, when the use of these drugs is legal and monitored by doctors, negative effects are very rare. The use of steroids and performance enhancing drugs is not only harmful to the players but is also unfair to the players that are not using them. The natural players have a disadvantage because they can only use natural hormones and cannot build muscle, speed, or stamina the way that athletes can who are using illegal drugs. Drug testing in both professional and amateur sports should be used more commonly in order to avoid these dangerous side effects and unfair advantages. Illegal drug and hormone use is primarily due to athletes wanting to become more successful so that they can obtain more wealth. In the United States, the average income for a household is about $46,326. As for professional athletes in football and baseball, they “make on average $5 million per year” (Shrock). Most military personnel make only about $50,000 per year and the average police officer makes about $39,000 (Shrock). Being a professional athletes does not even require a minimum amount of schooling on top of the fact that most athletes do not work a full 9:00-5:00 job with overtime hours like the majority of Americans do. Doctors, professors, lawyers, and other professionals with numerous years of schooling do not even make what many well-known athletes make. Not even close. The supposed reasoning behind the outrageous paychecks that pro
Sivyer 5 athletes receive is the amount of revenue that they bring in. However, no one stops to think that the second, third, and fourth string players who sit on the bench and hardly bring any recognition to the team still make much more than the average police officer, soldier, and hard working American citizen. An athlete who solely entertains people should not be paid higher than a doctor who saves lives every day. Over half of these athletes receive medical care from these doctors after injuries and their careers would not even be made possible without them. So why should they make more than them? Lockouts are now becoming popular with leagues because the players are not satisfied with their already-enormously-inflated pay rates. This shows the selfishness of athletes and how it is no longer about the love of the game for them. Professional sports turn players into businessmen who try to rack in every cent possible rather than athletes who enjoy playing the game. Everything is about money and the truth is, most athletes do not deserve to be paid what they receive every year. Not only do athletes receive overly large paychecks, but they also obtain many unfair scholarships in college. College is about learning, getting degrees, and working hard in order to ensure a good job in the future. Yes, sports are a big part of college for many students and athletes but sports should never overshadow academics. Students with high GPA’s who have also been working and volunteering throughout all of high school are often out-competed for scholarships by athletes. Most of whom will not even go on to play professionally. Statistically, only 1.7% of college football players, 1.2% of men’s basketball players, 1% of men’s soccer players, 1.3% of hockey players, and 11.6% of baseball players (both minor and major leagues) even make it to the pros (Manfred). Out of the 517,849 college athletes in 2012, 177,559 of them received college athletic
Sivyer 6 scholarships (How Many College Athletic…). That equals to about 1 in 3 or 34% of all college athletes who received scholarships. As for academic scholarships, “only .3 % received enough money to cover the full cost of attendance” in the 2007-2008 school year (Singletary). The jump between .3 to 34% is enormous and shows how unfair the scholarship system is. Athletes are handed free rides just for being able to win games for the fans’ entertainment. Yes, sports are a big part of what brings money into the school but the hard working, intelligent, middle/lower class students who are going to go far in life with impressive jobs deserve financial aid over solely sports-consumed athletes who can barely pass their SAT’s. As president Kennedy once stated, “if we scoff at intellectuals and laugh at scientists, and reward only athletic achievement, then the future of America is dark indeed” (Mitchell). As important as scholarships are, at least they are not a matter of life and death. Athletic events can get extremely out of control if two rival teams are playing each other or if the game is an important one. Fans turn into animals and everything is about winning or making the other team look bad. Some countries such as South America, where soccer is like a religion, “ have fans that are deadly crazy. They cheer for their team like they’re going to war. They fight at the games with opposing players, they start fires – and sometimes they even kill each other” (Sports too Serious). In some soccer stadiums, fans are crammed into the seats and when emotions run high, fights cause police to get involved which produces panic and frequently results in human stampedes. Over 6 documented soccer stadium stampedes have killed anywhere from 39 to 340 fans, such as the 1982 Moscow stampede that killed 340 and the 1964 Lima, Peru stampede that killed 318 (Arms). In 1994, Colombian World Cup Player Andres Escobar was shot
Sivyer Â 7 Â and killed after accidentally scoring a goal on his own team and consequently causing his team to be eliminated. In 2001, the combination of four soccer match tragedies killed 184 people and injured 340. The worst of them came when fans with poor sportsmanship started tearing up seats after their team lost and were sprayed with tear gas, causing a stampede (Arms). Whether it is something little such as heckling another player for an air-ball or a bigger attack like murder, fans definitely let sporting events get the best of them sometimes. The question that we are left with is, are sports taken too seriously and held too high in importance in our culture? Many people have opposing views about this but they most definitely are. Sports are held to almost the same standard as academics nowadays. The illegal athlete recruitment, injuries, illegal drug use, highly unnecessary paychecks, unfair scholarships, and out of control fans are just some of the reasons backing this statement up. Young athletes think that their ticket to stardom and success in our culture is through sports and that one day they will grow up to become Kobe Bryant or Peyton Manning. This is one way to become very wealthy, but the percentage of athletes that succeed in doing so is an extremely small fraction, so the excessive emphasis on sports needs to be lessened. There is so much more to life than becoming the best athlete around. Young kids could become so much smarter, caring, and independent if they focused more on other things while growing up. It is questionable whether becoming a star athlete is worth the injuries, pressure, egotistic attitude, and unfair situations that come with it. Our country needs to take more priority off of sports and put more into education and creating ideal personality characteristics that would make our citizens allaround better human beings in society.
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