Creativity vs. athletics: A double standard regarding performance enhancing drugs?
August 28, 2012
Lance Armstrong was just stripped of his seven Tour De France titles for allegedly juicing. Prior to this news, Vanity Fair Editor Greydon Carter opened his ‘Letter to the Reader’ with an interesting perspective on society’s relentless persecution of professional athletes for using performance-enhancing drugs. Among other things, he wonders why we obsess over athletes taking drugs to get better results and not the myriad writers, musicians, painters, etc. who have done (and still do) the same thing.
We loved Bob Marley for smoking weed. We dug the Beatle’s Magical Mystery Tour. We can’t imagine Pink Floyd without LSD. So many great pop song from the sixties and seventies were inspired, performed and written under the influence of mind-expanding drugs. Performance was undeniably enhanced. Lest anyone think this was but a “phase” listen to the songs your kids listen to next time you drive them to soccer practice. Today’s artists love doping and singing about it just as much as yesterday’s. What was Katy Perry’s Last Friday Night but an ode to an extended blackout?
Trying to connect the dots
Don’t know what to tell my boss
Think the city towed my car
Chandelier is on the floor
With my favorite party dress
Warrants out for my arrest
Think I need a ginger ale
That was such an epic fail
Yeah, I think we broke the law.
Yet, we damn Roger Clemens for taking Steroids. He was the best pitcher in Major League Baseball. Now he’s a bum. All because he (likely) took something to rejuvenate his dying arm. Like lance Armstrong, we want to strip him of his many records. Okay. Then why not strip the Beatles of their many records? Or Vincent van Gough? Or Allen Ginsberg? Or Jim Morrison?
I’m not condoning the use of dangerous drugs in either situation but I do think the behavior is opposite sides of the same coin. One effects the body. The other the head. The argument that steroids can cause irreparable damage down the road is no different than what is said to junkies and drunks. The end is potentially a wrecked person.
Back in the day, I used drugs and alcohol to enhance my creativity. And for a long time it worked. I won a Gold Lion at Cannes for a commercial I wrote drunk and high. Matter of fact, I was sitting on a bar stool at Max Tavern in Chicago when I wrote it. No one is stripping me of that award. Granted, no one gives a shit. But still…
Millions of men use Cialis and Viagra to enhance sexual performance. Just as many women enhance their looks with Botox and Silicon. Let’s not get into the myriad supplements all of take to feel younger and sharper. “Let’s face it,” Greydon asks, “Who among us wouldn’t take a pill or potion that would make us better?”
We already do.