Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Barry Bonds Is Just like the Rest of Us

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Barry Bonds Is Just like the Rest of Us

Article excerpt

As if we need still another casualty in the fake and failed war on drugs, Barry Bonds is now under siege. When the champion home-run hitter for the San Francisco Giants cracked his 756th ball into the stands in early August, he dethroned Hank Aaron as the home-run king who 33 years before replaced Babe Ruth. Cheers from hometown fans were matched and often drowned out by sneers and jeers elsewhere. Speculation of the wildest kind condemned Mr. Bonds for steroid use: Performanceenhancing drugs turned a star into a superstar.

Corporate media sportswriters scorn Mr. Bonds as a cheater. When told that he has never failed a steroid test, as others have failed, they argue that some steroids are undetectable. When Mr. Bonds himself claims innocence, he is greeted with "Yeah, right, Barry." And, besides, we are told by scribes that Mr. Bonds is arrogant, brusque and therefore unlikable. Translation: He talks back to self-important reporters and sends them packing.

I see steroids and the BOnds case as a personal freedom issue. What's the difference between steroid-using professional athletes risking their health--enlarged heart, cancer, personality disorders--and steroid-using gym rats risking theirs to build bigger bodies? What's the difference between athletes juicing themselves with steroids and drunken fans in the stands doping themselves with the alcohol drug?. What's the difference between running up the score with a steroid and scoring with America's favorite performance-enhancer, Viagra?

No difference that I can tell, except some drugs are decreed illegal and some legal. The decreers? Prosecutors, legislatures and other moralizers sniffing around with their blue noses and hot to criminalize what they see as vice. Politiclans are easily spooked by the issue. …

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