1. Cheating in baseball
2. Steroids in MLB
3. The effects that steroid-users had on MLB
4. Players using steroids had a positive impact on MLB’s attendance and ratings
5. Promoting cheating would increase MLB ratings
6. Permitting cheating in MLB would skyrocket the league’s ratings and restore baseball as America’s pastime
After watching the Astros fiasco play out and reading this I just had to give my input. For one thing, I think it’s vitally important that you clearly define what “cheating” is, especially since “allowing players to cheat” is oxymoronic in itself.
As for my personal opinion, I would say the primary reason drug use contributed to MLB ratings back in the late 20th century (a time I’m sure you’ll reference) is it went largely unnoticed, and Americans weren’t so focused on countering drug use. I haven’t watched a lot of baseball but I know that cheating in any sport has become frowned upon over the years. People ARE leaning towards legalizing marijuana in sports, but only because the drug benefits the players without giving players an unfair advantage.
Going back to the Astros scandal, I think the attitude toward their actions makes the bottom line clear: people will lose all respect for the game of baseball if players are allowed to take drugs like steroids or cocaine. People who aspire to go pro but want to play fairly would be up against a level of competition that shouldn’t even exist and may reconsider playing at all. Your plan also risks influencing other sports that are already extremely popular (NBA, NFL), projecting the same consequences onto them as well.
If more players cheated with drugs but it all went under the radar your sentiment might hold some water, but I highly suspect that your plan of announcing to the world that players can “cheat” (i.e take steroids) would backfire disastrously.
I think one point you may also have failed to consider is that ratings would be rendered insignificant if the integrity of baseball is in jeopardy.
Your argument looks extremely difficult to prove, at least to me, but counterintuitive nonetheless. If you did so and effectively, I’m sure Mister David would be impressed. Good luck 👍
To begin, you are absolutely right, I need to define “cheating”. I might alter my hypothesis to say that “PED’s should be legalized/allowed” rather than all cheating.
You claimed that the reason why steroid-use was so widely “accepted” was because nobody knew about the cheating. However, this is not true at all. In the 90’s players, coaches, MLB, and fans were all aware that players were using steroids. Major League Baseball even altered the way they drug-tested, as well as how often they drug tested, in 2004 because of the steroid era.
I also understand that cheating is becoming more and more frowned upon. However, as I said earlier, I didn’t mean cheating as in using technology (like the Astros situation). I am simply going to address the use of performance-enhancing drugs/steroids, so I don’t have much to say about your Astros statement.
As far as the integrity of the game goes, there have been scandals in baseball every decade. Pete Rose, the Black Sox, the steroid era, the Red Sox and Astros of recent times, have all been accused and found guilty of breaking the integrity of the game. That does not change the effects of ratings. I never claimed to be protecting the integrity of the game by proposing this hypothesis. Also, not everyone will agree with my hypothesis, but that is not my problem. As Professor Hodges said in class, we are meant to prove our point to its fullest extent, but at the end of the day you cannot change someone’s opinion. In this case, it seems as though you think it would harm the integrity of the game. If everyone was PERMITTED to use PEDs, I don’t see why that would lose the integrity of the game, nor do I see why most fans would have an issue with it.
Regardless, as stated earlier, fans were well aware of what was going on in baseball in the 1990s and early 2000s but they didn’t care that much. As the 2000s went on, steroid use was cracked down on, so less and less HR were hit. Ever since then, MLB attendance and tv ratings have tumbling, and the NBA has overtaken MLB as 2nd most popular professional American sport. Baseball has been trying to restore its successful ratings ever since steroids were largely removed from the game. In recent years, MLB has become so desperate to increase the number of HR hit that it’s been widely assumed/accepted/suspected that they juiced the baseballs in order to give batters a power advantage. Even so, mite hitters are hitting 20+ HR, but few are scraping 50 each year, let alone the 70+ that Bonds broke the record with. Therefore, I believe that the only way to increase ratings and attendance would be to allow the use of PEDs so all players have have an equal opportunity. Fans asked for the early 2000’s offensive production to come back, and this is how they could get it.
Apologies for the so-poorly-researched comment on the attitude towards cheating back then.
That said, a few things:
My comment on the Astros was not meant to draw comparisons between the methods by which the players cheated but rather the mere fact that they were cheating. But I understand that I may have worded it wrong.
Speaking of which, it may be a good idea for you to draw comparisons between the general attitude towards using performance-enhancing drugs back then versus now. The culture of baseball and sports in general may have been vastly different back then. I think it would be reasonable to assume something must have changed in our culture to cause league officials to crack down on drugs. If times were that different back then, it’s worth considering.
I understand the sentiment that it’s not your problem if other people disagree with you, and that your opinion is your opinion. But I encourage you to remember that we research to test, not to prove.
A good rule of thumb is to never use the phrase “I don’t see why” when making a good rebuttal. A strong counter-argument would point out evidence to the contrary–evidence that people wouldn’t have a problem with players using steroids. I’m aware that this is just a hypothesis though, so these kinds of rules don’t matter much until the first few drafts come about.
I now realize what you were saying about the Astros scandal and identified ways it pertains to the subject of cheating.
However, although a good thought, your recommendation to address the way the attitude towards steroid-use in baseball has changed is not needed, because thoughts have not changed. I will certainly mention in it in my research, but despite your belief that you “think it would be reasonable to assume something must have changed in our culture to cause league officials to crack down on drugs”, the attitude towards steroid-users, at least in 2020, has not changed much.
Yes, ever since players were busted for using steroids SOME people aren’t happy about it. But the fans’ understanding of the impact that steroids has on players made them realize the insignificance of the drugs. Baseball is often argued to be the most difficult sport, and superstars/talented players of other sports have attested to that after playing semi-pro or Major League Baseball. Even upon using steroid, it still requires incredible talent and skill to hit a baseball out of a ballpark.
In addition, with each passing year, more and more former players, fans, organizations, insiders, analyzers, etc WANT steroid-user to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. In the mid 2000’s, after official documentation and public announcement of players using illegal substances, it has been tough for known steroid-users to make it into the Hall of Fame. Although most fans didn’t care, many former players and baseball minds (who are now voters) did care. Anyway, as I was saying, in recent years a massive breakthrough has occurred. Now Hall of Famers, Ivan Rodriguez, Tim Raines, and Jeff Bagwell have been forgiven and appreciated for their incredible careers even after being accused of using steroids. Up next, baseball is on track to finally elect Barry Bonds into the Hall of Fame, as well as Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz who are expected to be elected in despite PED use.
In MLB, a player must receive 75% of the votes, casted by major league associates, in order to make it into the Hall of Fame. From 2014 to 2019, both Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds have achieved over 20%(!!!!) voting increases in support. So clearly, the idea of steroid-use in 2020 is just as frowned upon, or in this case not really minded, as it was during the actual steroid era.
And yes, I’m simply writing a response to your reply, not actually diving into research yet. But I know, as a fan of baseball, how other fans feel, through social media and personal experience. In this case, I think saying “I don’t see why” is perfectly okay. Of course in my paper I will not say that, however.
Thank you both, Tenere and Harp, for this fascinating conversation. Obviously you’ve identified a hypothesis that will generate heat. It is of course counterintuitive that a professional sports league would permit the use of performance-enhancing drugs . . . or is it? The question is largely one of definition/categorization. Someone has drawn a line between what pharmaceuticals are legal and which are not. And that’s just where the ambiguity starts. Clearly the league will do whatever it feels it must to maximize public support for the business but on its own timetable.
Thank you both for your feedback!