High school athletes pressured into steroid use

Noël Beyer-Hermsen • Staff Writer

Steroids have been a problem in professional sports for many years now with players in a variety of areas. The most common sports people hear about when it comes to steroid use are football and baseball. But many people are also becoming concerned about high school athletes getting involved in the world of steroid use.

Across Ohio, 30 school districts conduct random drug testing of their student athletes.  Olentangy School District, the first in Ohio to do so, has been randomly drug testing athletes for almost 20 years.

Jim Bibler, who coaches cross country at Hayes, said that athletes who play strength-based sports are under more pressure to perform. “I think…the coaches there are probably more worried about that,” Bibler said.

According to an article written by Fox News on November 19, 2012, a Minnesota study found that about 5% of middle and high school students have used anabolic steroids to put on muscle. That isn’t a large percentage, but it shows that teens have access to steroids at a young age. For the kids who work hard and try to give 100%, it is hard to keep up with the “better” athletes who are finding ways to get ahead.

“It is unfair to the people that work hard to get beat by people cheating their way to the top,” said Hannah Bartfay, senior captain of the girls’ soccer team.

Jordan Blackburn, head basketball coach, said that kids’ brains are not fully developed, which is why teens sometimes make poor choices. Teenagers already have a lot on their minds such as tests, grades, homework, relationships, puberty, and finding who they really are without having to worry about chemically making themselves better.

“Really the pressure to start using [steroids] is in high school,” said Dr. Linn Goldberg, from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

Because of this, some high schools have started testing athletes for steroids before they begin a season. However, performing such tests can be expensive, which adds significant cost to the athletic budget.

Not everyone thinks steroid use in high school deserves more attention. “I don’t believe steroids are a big problem in student-athletes nowadays,” said junior Joseph Sanfillipo, a football and lacrosse player.

The consequences of using steroid use at a young age are severe. Teenagers who use steroids or other muscle enhancers can experience extensive hair growth, abnormal sexual development and many other side effects.

Recent media attention about professional athletes experimenting with steroids can also impact whether or not student athletes decide to try the drugs.  Teenagers who look up to a celebrity in their sport may try to mimic the athlete’s behavior.

“If kids think people they idolize are doing something, it doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad. They will at least be interested in modeling what the professional athlete or person they respect is doing,” Blackburn said.

Some athletes have found their own ways of getting better and becoming a great athlete by doing what works well for them.  Aly Smiley, a senior captain of the girls soccer team, said that she focuses on “working out on my own and making the right choices like when picking food to eat.” ϖ