Mario "Game" Granata
I have long been a proponent for the "purity" of the game, no matter if it was baseball, football, basketball, hockey, etc. but with the recent changes that have been made to all of those sports, in terms of banning substances, it seems that it's getting harder and harder to find players that are using illegal substances in professional sports. But, what can be done to police these players, since the current system is somewhat flawed?
Growing up and playing sports from the mid-1980s until early 2000s, I have seen an increase in the usage of 'performance enhancing drugs', some legal and some illegal. I knew, at an early age, that my career would have a shelf-life, and that when I was done playing that I wanted to remain healthy in my later years of life. I took protein for the most part, and never went outside of that realm, but I have seen teammates with other players who took it to the next level. Some were caught, and some weren't, and the fallout from the players who weren't caught, ended up being major health issues that they are now dealing with.
Now, what I am about to suggest, might not be the most popular idea for those who are fans for preserving the purity of the game, but I just think that there are so many ways that these players are disguising what they are taking, it is just so hard to catch them. And when they do get caught, they deny it and look to point the finger at someone else for the infraction. (See Ryan Braun). My suggestion, might not be popular with those who are trying to preserve the purity of the game, but it just seems that all leagues are fighting a losing battle, let the players take what they want. But with a few adjustments:
-Players have to list all the 'items' and/or supplements that they are taking.
-With each substance comes a 'game(s) penalty'. For example, if a player is taking HGH in Baseball, their Game Penalty is 40 games. They will lose a quarter of the season, for being able to take HGH.
-Players who are tested for a certain substance, that they did NOT list, will be automatically suspended a MINIMUM of 1 full season. (Baseball, 162 games. Football, 16 games, etc.) And they will be fined one (1) full years salary, which will be donated to charity. (Can you see the headlines now?)
We praise these players for being able to accomplish super human feats, but then get upset when they test positive for a substance. By assigning 'game penalties' for substances that the players take, this will alter contracts that the players will be able to sign. For example, if you are going to re-sign Ryan Braun, and he is taking substances that will force him to miss half of the season, that will alter his contract talks, and there will be very little threat to the records that some of these players break. By taking this radical move to allow these players to keep using substances, they might think twice if their wallet is affected, and will save teams the embarrassment that comes with a player being caught. What if you knew that A-Rod was only available for half the season? (Although he only shows up for the first half anyway, but nevertheless). Or in football, what if a player is dynamic, on performance enhancing drugs, and they are only allowed to play 8 games? What does that do to the dynamic of the team if they are not on the field?
Now all that needs to be worked out is the playing time that the players are allotted. I mean, a pitcher in baseball, if he is a starter, pitches every 5th day. So, as the current system is set up, if he is caught with performance enhancing drugs, and gets caught, is he suspended for 5 years? Just a thought.