Steroids are hormone drugs that make athletes stronger and more muscular. This is an obvious advantage on the sports field.
Kids realize that their high school sports years are when college recruiters are going to make offers to the best players to play on a college team. Being recruited by a major college means that the player will get not only a free ride scholarship to the college, but also will play on a great team and then maybe get a job on a pro team.
This is true for high school baseball, soccer, and hockey team players too. Kids are sometimes introduced to steroids as young as junior high school and sometimes the pressure to be the best makes the steroids too hard to resist. Also, some kids are given silent permission to use steroids by their coaches and parents because these adults may recognize the signs that a teen is using steroids but not do anything about it.
The side effects
Steroid use can cause some pretty complicated side effects. Young men who use steroids can become larger and more muscular very quickly. They can also have bad acne breakouts, they can be shaky, have bad body odor, mood swings, and become aggressive and hard to get along with.
For girls, using steroids can make them moody, and give them facial hair and a deeper voice. Unfortunately, many of these things are present during the teen years anyway. Some of the more scary side effects are heart damage, liver damage, and shrinking of the testicles.
Even over the counter steroids have side effects. Protein drinks and steroid powders are available in health food stores and kids have easy access to these products. Since teen steroid users are not done growing the damage that steroids do can mean much more to them than to adults. Even over the counter steroids can cause kidney damage and heart damage.
As many as thirty million kids play a sport in this country and up to 11 percent of those kids have at least tried steroids. Steroids are a drug and using them is illegal. Sometimes kids are introduced to steroids by their coach. There have been some cases about coaches who gave their players steroids or who suggested that the player give steroids a try to become a better player.
Because steroid use has become such a problem for teenagers, parents, coaches and other adults are taking steps to stop the use of steroids. Some students learn about using steroids in health class. Some schools require that their students who play sports attend a lecture about steroid use in sports. And some other schools pass out a flyer or a pamphlet about steroid use to sports team members.
Even the National Football League has become involved in teaching kids not to use steroids to enhance their sports performance. These organizations have developed an approach of education to keep kids from trying steroids or to get them off steroids once they have started. Kids know that if they are caught using steroids, they can get kicked off of their sports team. But they also know that if they take steroids, they can be bigger, stronger and play better than some other players and that they have a better chance of winning.
Unfortunately some education will work for some kids, but it obviously doesn’t work well enough. The only way to get the majority of kids off of steroids is to perform random drug testing for high school sports team members. Since steroids are still an issue even after years of education and millions of dollars spent of getting the word out, it’s obvious that kids need a stricter sports environment.
Random drug testing
If random drug testing for teen sports players is done along with a program of education, we are bound to catch the majority of steroid users soon after they start. Maybe in areas where steroid use is really a problem, mandatory testing can be done on a regular basis.
Once kids see that high school sports programs are serious about keeping steroid use out of high school sports, the use will probably decrease even more than with education alone. There will probably always be some kids who will try to get away with using steroids and a system has to be put together to handle those kids also.
Once an athlete has tested positive for steroids, a policy of zero tolerance can evict him from sports for a period of the rest of the school year. He can be welcome to try out again for the team the following year. The policy should include a “three strikes and you’re out” policy too.
Once a player has tested positive three times, he won’t be allowed to play school sports again. Professional sports should be even tougher. Any player caught using steroids should be banned from the game forever. By educating, enforcing and treating the use of steroids, high school sports should become steroid free.