I was reading the story about Jonathan Papelbon and the use of Toradol and I have to admit, when it comes to something like that, I’m just not sure what to think.
Toradol is an anti-inflammatory drug. Does it assist an athlete in ways that help them perform better than those not taking it? Absolutely. Are many of them probably taking a dangerous amount of it? Probably.
But here’s the thing when it comes to all these drugs in sports. Outside of the sports world, I either have taken, or know someone who has needed to take, anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, HGH, and on and on. Here in the real world, we need to take these drugs to treat various conditions that are keeping us from living and working without pain. Only no one is there to accuse us of “cheating” when we do it.
Oh sure, most of us are simply following doctors orders, but how many of you, well after you had a need for painkillers, kept some around and took them again for something unrelated to the reason you had them. Is that cheating life? Is that putting yourself in danger? Should anyone care that you did it?
Should we care that athletes are taking an enormous amount of painkillers, or Toradol, or anything else that helps them recover and get back to work, just like we do in our lives?
On the one hand, where there are rules in their sport outlawing certain drugs, even if I don’t feel like the world will end if football players take steroids, they agreed to those rules, and should be punished when they don’t follow them. But don’t expect me to get all high and mighty about a highly paid athlete trying to get back to doing his job at as high a level as he possibly can. We all do that to ourselves, whether it’s taking a painkiller, or dropping some 5-hour energy, or skipping meals. None of those things are what we would call “good for us”, but we all do it in order to get by. We accept the small risk, for the reward of being able to function. You can’t convince me that someone who has already decided to take the known risk of playing contact sports, isn’t aware that they are adding risks from some of the drugs they are taking.
If someone is willing to risk permanent knee and joint pain, the unknown, and quite scary, long term effects of head injuries, possible paralysis, and the risk of getting sliced open by a skate blade, who are we to tell them that taking steroids is too risky for them? Especially when we hand them out to non-athletes on a regular basis?
Would I do it? Would I let my kid, if I had one, do it? Probably not, but then again, I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t let my kid play football at all. So I’m already much more risk-averse than any pro football player is.
If someone wants to do unhealthy and risky things in the pursuit of a career in other fields, we don’t stop them. We ask them to understand the choice they are making, and live with the consequences. If pro athletes can do the same, and come to the conclusion that they want to take those risks in order to be a pro athlete, then so be it.