Lessons on Sport From the Mitchell Report
- Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Let’s get down to the fact that this destroys you and it kills you. It is terribly dangerous to the human body. When I have gone in front of young athletes and I ask them this question: “Would you be willing to sacrifice 10 or 15 years of your life if you were guaranteed the gold medal or to win a Cy Young or be a star running back in the NFL? Almost every single athlete says ‘yes.’”
Mohler: Willing to make the trade?
Pastore: Be willing to make the trade for 10 or 15 years off your life, die at 60 rather than 75, if they could go into the Hall of Fame, or become a world class athlete.
Mohler: You know, and just to put it bluntly … there are some real messages being given to young men about this, about the dangers of it. As a matter of fact, on the Internet I quickly pulled down a brochure given to high school athletes, male high school athletes. Anyway, one of the things it notes is that you’re likely to have shrunken testicles and reduced reproductive ability. Now, I think if you’re talking to teenage guys, you’re likely to catch their attention with that. Evidently not.
Pastore: Well, let’s hope that as a result of this entire investigation and what Major League Baseball is going to do in response, that we just stigmatize the use of steroids for young athletes at the high school level. I think the story you may be referring is out of Texas where they are going to do random testing in high schools, and they have been doing random testing for steroids among high school athletes because football is such a big deal there. Maybe that’s the direction we go for awhile.
Mohler: Let me ask you another question because you are also theologically trained, we’re Christians in this conversation, we’re going to be explicitly so. We believe that human beings aren’t mere machines, that indeed we were made by a creator in His image. We believe, as Christians, that indeed we are to worship God with our bodies—in the sense of understanding that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. And that liberates human beings from worshiping the body itself, rather understanding that we are to inhabit our bodies for the glory of God. Now there are a host of ethical issues to relate to that, from obesity to lack of exercise and the use of performance enhancing drugs on the other side. Let’s just focus on that issue for a moment and say, “You can take this drug and it won’t cut years off your life.” Would it still be right to endlessly pursue some kind of human enhancement?
Pastore: Well, I think I’m going to surprise you with my answer. If it were not, on the long term, harmful to your body and everyone was allowed access to it, it would be considered like a vitamin, right? The problem is this is illegal and it is incredibly harmful to your body, and there are long-term health benefits. I appreciate your hypothetical, but the reality is no, it’s terribly harmful. That’s why the government has chosen to make it an illegal substance and it is cheating. It’s like corking your bat, it’s like pine tar on the baseball it’s in that category but worse because young kids are starting to do it and they’re ruining their lives as a result.
Mohler: I really did not know how you would answer that question. I have some concerns, given the hypothetical there, that many people think there are no limits on human enhancement. When you start looking at longevity technologies and all the rest of this cryogenics, you’re looking at some pretty macabre, strange, weird stuff. Most of us would at least respond with what Leon Kass calls the “yuck factor”—it doesn’t look right, smell right, feel right.
Pastore: Exactly right!
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