Creativity vs. athletics: A double standard regarding performance enhancing drugs?

August 28, 2012

Nothing wrong with doping if you create art…

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.

Intriguing argument.

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?

Dirty Cheater

Rock God

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.


7 Responses to “Creativity vs. athletics: A double standard regarding performance enhancing drugs?”

  1. John King said

    The individual has a choice. I have a problem when it comes to animals. Race horses, greyhounds, pitbulls and other animals can’t say no and are put down when they don’t win.

  2. fransiweinstein said

    Theoretically I think you are right. However. I think you might have some trouble getting people to agree. Bet you’ll find that the idea of an athlete winning a medal (and, therefore, depriving the guy in 2nd place) because he took drugs that substantially improved his performance and the other was competing ‘au naturelle’ is looked upon very differently than a Beatle writing a song while high. Doesn’t make it right. But it is a commentary on our value system. We want to win so badly that we are prepared to cheat and to lie in order to do so — whether it’s the Tour de France or the upcoming Presidential Election. I could just be blowing smoke here, but was the Beatle writing under the influence doing it because he wanted to make sure he won the Grammy instead of one of the Rolling Stones? Or was he just doing it because he liked to be high — even when he wasn’t writing or performing. Drugs are illegal, so it’s still not good. As a society, I think we are morally and ethically bankrupt. Working on a blog post on this very subject, actually. I think we need to all take a pause …

  3. shuckingknife said

    Creating art and winning a race/ game are two entirely different things. First off, art shouldn’t be seen as “winning” simply because it is popular, or made a shit-ton of money. The artists who succeed in making interesting art while utilizing drugs succeed because they are innovating and stretching the boundaries of creativity. This being said, recreational drugs aren’t automatically going to make you better at making art. Steroids on the other hand, ensure an unfair physical advantage for the users. If they were legal, every athlete would be pressured to use them, and there’d be a whole lot of shrunken testicles and sub ten second sprinters.

    And as for the guy suggesting that people are morally bankrupt for smoking pot or taking hallucinogenics, try thinking for yourself for a change, instead of blindly following the sheep in front of you. Laws don’t inherently make things wrong, if you can come up with reasons why it is wrong besides the law itself, then the law is most likely well founded.

    • friendshipweblog said

      I wrote this comment and i feel it is misinformed and thoughtless. Particularly the view on steroid use, and the pompous comment on sheep.

      At the time I was watching too much Bill Maher and was silly and opinionated.

      I would appreciate it if the admin would kindly delete these comments.

      Thank you in advance.

  4. Steffan1 said

    Reblogged this on Gods of Advertising and commented:

    As this year’s baseball Hall-of-Fame class continues to deny entry to Barry Bonds and others for using PED’s i.e. “cheating” here is a very different perspective:

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