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Jazzy Awards – Turkey of the Year – ESPN on steroids

Well, it’s the day after Thanksgiving and everyone except me and a few other Turkey haters are eating leftover dry stringy bird remnants. I had steak and pasta yesterday, as usual, and watched everyone else fall asleep due to tryptophan or whatever it’s called.

So it’s time to give out the Dry, Stringy Turkey of the Year Award. This time it goes to ESPN for their juvenile, irresponsible and downright dangerous attitude toward steroids. Rather than condemn them as the scourge and cheater’s crutch they are, the four-letter-in-the-woods falls all over themselves to desensitize us that steroids should be tolerated and are nowhere near as bad as Congress, the medical community, the coaches and responsible parents know.

Marion Jones must give back her medals and forfeit her records and faces jail time, yet ESPN drags Tim Kirkjian out to constantly bang the drum that we should do nothing to Bonds’ records even though Bonds records should be erased and even though he stares down the barrel of jail for perjury and even though he gave the game the worst bl;ack eye since the strike of ’94.

When you can’t trust Tim Kirkjian, it’s a serious problem. He used to be the go-to guy for baseball, but how can I ever believe him again when he will not only not denounce Bonds, but will say – in the face of all the evidence and the rage of the fans – that Bonds should be left alone and celebrated. Wake up and smell the stale coffee in Bristol.

The worst, most embarrassing and clearly most irresponsible article was written in sixth-grade essay fashion by Tom Farrey. It’s here. This was written in January. In light of the year’s events, ESPN should either take it down or condemn it. In light of the highly embarrassing failure it has proven to be, perhaps Farrey should be promoted to the bush leagues, maybe a sideline reporter/cheerleader reporting gig on how players give pep talks before games or how they have to “make more plays” – that’s the intellectual extent of his dismal work on this “piece.”

Here are some comments that would make you laugh – if it weren’t for the fact that he completely fails to mention that it is conclusively proven that steroid use cause liver damage, pancreas damage, nervous system problems, brain cancer, volatile attitude and irritability and in the case of former many pro players, Taylor Hooten and other high schoolers, death. Here are some Farrey quotes:

“But just as so much of South Florida was built on swampland, the whole skull-rockin’, bone-crushin’, rump-shakin’, cameras-clickin’, fireworks-flyin’, teammates-prayin’, sponsors-payin’ spectacle really floats on a teeming pool of man-made fluids: sweat, blood, spit, adrenaline, taurine, cortisone, tears. And if history is any guide, at least a few of the game’s gladiators will repair to their homes in the ensuing days and resuscitate their smashed bodies with yet more fluid, this time human growth hormone, or maybe straight testosterone.

If Google Earth could zoom in to show the players’ faces, we probably wouldn’t see much shame on them. In the future there won’t be much scorn on ours, either. Because it’s likely that within a few years, expanded use of these drugs will become permissible, under a doctor’s supervision and with checks in place to prevent abuse….And the public has been deeply conditioned to think of these drugs in sinister terms, at least when it comes to sports…”

This start to the article in ESPN The Magazine was targeting high schoolers to desensitize them. The “bojangler” language sounds cool to high school athletes and is meant to make him sound hip. After all, in order to sell steroids to kids, you have to push them…and he sounds like every drug pusher on the corner who says, “try it, it’s not so bad.” He continues, citing recovery from concussions as a reason for allowing HGH use to be tolerated:

So far, nearly all of the medical focus on NFL head injuries has centered on concussions. Even players who get pulled from games rarely, if ever, get checked for pituitary damage. But researchers in Turkey, in a 2004 study, found growth hormone deficiency to be “very common” among boxers. The sample was small, just 11 top male amateurs, but the results were striking because the number of boxers who may have had deficiencies — 45.4% — was so much higher than that of the general population…”

Since when are we supposed to take Turkey’s word for things? Instead of focusing on football collisions in the U.S. he had to get unrelated science from a distant land? Boxing is constant slams to the unprotected head…completely inapplicable to football collisions. Ask yourself, “why did he have to get Turkish medical authority? Was there no one on the U.S. who agreed? Or were American researchers too “deeply conditioned to think of these drugs in sinister terms?” That’s one turkey talking about another turkey. But he gets worse!

“A good case can easily be made for HGH, which has been proved to add muscle size but, unlike testosterone, not necessarily strength.”
As the article in Golf Digest I quoted yesterday shows, Farrey is dead wrong. Common sense says the same thing. Say this out loud, so you have it straight in your head…increased muscle size doesn’t result in more strength? I’m right about that Tom, that’s your story? OK, so Bonds’ increased homers were due to magic Farrey dust…errr…fairy dust.

But Farrey continues his vile indoctrination, telling your kids a clean game is unattainable and that its those who oppose steroids that need to change. Would you ever say this to your kids, like he did in ESPN the Magazine:

“LET’S SUPPOSE for a moment that the NFL wants to adapt its drug policy to the realities of 21st-century medicine. Could it make the changes without turning the game into more of a chemical freak show than it may already be? Of course — as long as it is willing to make the health needs of its players, as opposed to the dubious ideal of a level playing field, its No. 1 priority.”

The dubious idea of a level playing field…hang your head in shame. he says that since we can’t truly have a clean game, we should allow HGH use? OK, lets punt honesty, truth, honor, loyalty, wisdom fortitude and all other virtue out of the game. I don’t know who taught him sports ethics, but he is missing many crucial lessons. He finishes with an odious, indeed neanderthal conclusion:

“It’s a physical game played at high speeds, and no one — not the players, not the league, not the fans — wants that to change.

But that doesn’t mean the way players are treated can’t. If and when that does happen, we will cheer with a clear conscience the open-field hit that leaves a man as cold as our game day beer. Because we’d know there are effective — and honest — remedies.”

He wants us to CHEER when a player gets hurt because HGH can help him recover? Like Joe Theisman? Mike Utley? Michael Irvin? Daryl Stingley? How can HGH help them recover? Cheer when a player is cold as our game day beer? Loud, drunk, stupid, insensitive and buying their crap, that’s the ESPN way. I can’t stand Michael Irvin as much as the next right thinking person, but the sports world roundly condemned Philly fans for cheering when he was injured…and he never played another down. Utter nonsense.

Occasionally…not often, not often enough, not likely, but occasionally ESPN reports the other side of steroids, usually through Bob Lee on Outside the Lines, but their track record of being behind on the vices of HGH and steroid use is woeful. I don’t know who the real worldwide leader in sports is, but whoever they are, hope they lead the charge in wanting a clean game, not one where we tolerate cheating. Hope they lead the charge in promoting the health of teen athletes. Hope they lead the charge in promoting honesty and responsible science. Time has shown the LPGA, PGA, MLB, NFL, Cycling and Track and Field and many others are taking the health issue serious enough to soundly condemn the steroid scourge and enact strict testing and fund research for catching HGH cheaters. As Pete Dye said in my interview here, “Two years or forever” for a ban.

As for Farrey’s ghastly and grotesque failure to report the truth of the steroids scourge…as for his being proven more wrong, more loudly, more often this past year than anyone on the issue, as for his trying to sensitize, indeed promote steroids to our kids? Hope it stays what it has proven to be…as cold as your game day beer.

2006 Turkey Award – Atunyote Golf Club at Blarney Stone…Turning Stone Casino.

Please click here for Tony K from Hooked on Golf Blog’s Turkey Award.

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