A needed wake-up callWritten by Norm Wamer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
What does it take for us to realize a “wake-up call” when we see one? On June 25, we found out about a grizzly tale involving WWE pro wrestler Chris Benoit and the double-murder of his wife and his 7-year-old son followed by Benoit’s own suicide. The discussion has now centered on whether Benoit was or wasn’t on steroids and whether “roid rage” played a part in this shocking and disgusting tale. Truth is, it doesn’t really matter.
Do we need to prove that this incident was caused or enhanced by steroids in order to make a case that steroids are harmful? The Albany County, N.Y., district attorney’s office has established a link between Benoit and a Florida company charged with selling steroids among other performance enhancing drugs. Steroids were also found in Benoit’s house. Despite the damning evidence, the WWE released a statement on its Web site that said the “WWE strongly suggests that it is entirely wrong for speculators to suggest that steroids had anything to do with these senseless acts, especially when the authorities plainly stated there is no evidence that Benoit had steroids in his body, pending the toxicological reports, and that they had no evidence at this time as to the motive for these acts.” Is it just me, or is there an eminent lack of credibility here on the part of the WWE?
Maybe steroids did not play a part in the double-murder/suicide, but it doesn’t matter. The list of pro wrestlers who have been destroyed by steroids and other drugs is lengthy. Names of wrestlers who have died prematurely that you may have heard of include: Eddie Guerrero, 38; Curt Hennig, 44; Davey Boy Smith, 39; Rick Rude, 40; Brian Pillman, 35; Crash Holly, 32; Ray Traylor, 42; and Louis Spicolli, 27, to name a few. The actual list is much longer. Where has our collective conscience gone?
While the early death of so many wrestlers has had almost no effect on “business as usual” around “sports entertainment,” baseball and football have hardly reacted to the premature deaths of Ken Caminiti and Lyle Alzado. The list of admitted or proven drug users in sports is staggering. In fact, the list is so long that we have probably forgotten many of the individuals on it.
Here is a sample of those who should have either admitted to using performance enhancers, tested positive or been otherwise proven as users. The “Hall of Shame” includes Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, Mary Decker, Jason Giambi, Tom House, Ben Johnson, Roy Jones Jr., Wally Joyner, Carl Lewis, Diego Maradona, Shawne Merriman, Barrett Robbins, John Rocker, Bill Romanowski, Benito Santiago, David Segui, Dana Stubblefield, James Toney, Kelli White and Fernando Vargas. The list of those implicated continues to grow each week.
All we get for a response are testing programs that are full of more holes than an old screen door and a senseless baseball witch-hunt into ancient history.
If you think this is all someone else’s problem, consider one more name, that of 16-year-old J. Kyle Braid. According to the Web site, www.athletesagainststeroids.org, “As a high school sophomore J. Kyle Braid was a starter on his school’s varsity football team. During a practice session, a well-meaning coach told the 16-year-old to get bigger, stronger and faster “no matter what it takes.” Kyle, as everyone knew him, turned to anabolic steroids in an effort to fulfill his coach’s request. After several months of secretly using the drugs, Kyle impulsively took his own life.”
Since law enforcement has not made athletes who break the law accountable, shouldn’t kids like J. Kyle Braid be our “wake-up call”?
Norm Wamer is program director of Sports Radio 1470 “The Ticket” WLQR-AM and hosts “The Front Row” weekday afternoons from 4 to 6 p.m.