A friend and I just had a lengthy conversation about the steroids issue. For perhaps the first time, I was able to get him to see some of the inconsistencies in the way the story is being presented; how little evidence there really is, how the ‘scandal’ is mostly a product of media hype and political posturing.
This friend is a high school football and basketball coach, and has been for several years. I asked him what he thought about the assertion made yesterday that as many as 500,000 high school athletes have taken steroids, and he felt that it seemed likely to him. He said that while he had suspicions about 4 or 5 of the 50 or so athletes he coached, he only knew of two players, (different sports), who did, in fact, use steroids. That means that something like 10% of the players he coached this past season did or said something that led him to be suspicious that they might have used, and 4% did use.
That would be in line with what I think is true in general. A small percentage of players, whatever sport or level, will do anything to succeed; and an even smaller percentage of them will get caught.
12 out of 1200 get caught in baseball, but I certainly don’t believe that they are the only users. I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of users were, in fact, closer to 5% than to 1%. But I don’t see how you conclude that if 1% get caught, 20% must be using. That makes no sense. And I also don’t see how even 5% of players using represents a scandal of biblical proportions.
However, I will stand corrected on my earlier criticisms regarding the high school athlete issue.