Tuesday, December 21, 2004

This Is Your Country on Drugs

This Is Your Country on Drugs

"JACQUES BARZUN famously said that to understand America, one must first understand baseball. Never has his remark been more accurate. Professional baseball players may be the most vilified Americans using performance-enhancing drugs, but they are by no means alone. Performance-enhancing drugs have become a part of ordinary American life."

I would argue that they have always been part of American life.

"College students take Ritalin to improve their academic performance. Musicians take beta blockers to improve their onstage performance. Middle-aged men take Viagra to improve their sexual performance. Shy people take Paxil to improve their social performance. The difference is that if athletes want to get performance-enhancing drugs they go to the black market. If the rest of us want performance-enhancing drugs, we go to our family doctors."

As a person that prefers to avoid taking medication of any kind I found this article to be engaging. It's amazing how common it is for people to look to pharmaceuticals and drugs to "enhance" themselves in all sorts of ways. It seems to me that at some point "enhanced" achievements would begin to feel hallow to the person that accomplishes the achievement.

I've also been a bit puzzled by the strong reaction to performance enhancing drugs in sports. People have been doing this for centuries. Drugs were very common in warfare and games/sports as long as we have historical evidence.

Also where do you draw the line. Is caffeine an enhancer or is it just something that helps people kick start their day. I've seen a lot of discussion of the use of caffeine in the triathlon world and it never seems to go anywhere. Some people swear by it but I have a hunch these are the people that are already addicted to it anyway.

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