For my research essay I will be investigating the effects of steroids on the popularity of baseball. Through my research, I intend to explore the possibility of permitting steroid use in MLB in order to increase game attendance and television ratings. My goal while researching is to find information about the effects of steroids on popularity during the steroid era, the popularity of baseball after the steroid era, as well as the different ways that MLB has tried to increase popularity but failed (and reasons why). I also hope to find statistics or examples in other major sports where the use of steroids vastly boosted the game’s ratings. Research that I have already conducted reveal that ratings had dropped significantly in the years following the steroid era, where MLB enforced serious steroid bans and improved drug testing. It seems counterintuitive to allow cheating in baseball, but nothing the commissioner does has produced significant improvements to the popularity of the sport, while NFL football and NBA basketball have been thriving and growing at a staggering rate. Something must change and reverting to the most popular era in baseball history is the most productive way to increase the popularity of baseball!
Background: This article discusses the progression of baseball since the steroid era, as well as how fans’ perspectives, and the game of baseball, have changed over time. The article also mentions the all-time low ratings of the 2010 All-Star Game and World Series, the two largest events in an MLB season. The author suggests that fans want to see home runs rather than dominant pitching, especially because 1 player (the pitcher) is a lot less marketable than an entire team of sluggers.
How I Intend to Use It: I will use this article to my advantage by referencing the fans’ distaste for the state of baseball when it transitioned from the steroid era to the year(s) of the pitcher. I will also include statistics about the attendance during the MLB All-Star Game, the Worlds Series, and individual team stats. This author believes that steroids should NOT be brought back, so I can only take the pure statistics in order to keep the integrity of his words/not mis-representing his beliefs.
Background: This article discusses theeffects of anabolic steroids on body weight, muscle growth, and cardiovascular endurance. Studies revealed that the use of anabolic hormones on female rats had drastically increased body weight (20%) and overall muscle growth (20%), as well as an increase in fatigue resistance. Upon further review of the experiment, scientists concluded that the cardiovascular endurance increase was not fueled by an accompanying increase in cardiac muscle strength, but instead by an increase in the aerobic muscle capacity of skeletal muscle.
How I Intend to Use It: I will use this article to defend my hypothesis/research and offer an answer to a counterpoint. It is a common misunderstanding of casual fans, diehard fans, and non-baseball fans alike, that using steroids directly translates to major success. However, that is not the case, because (as seen above) steroids enhance muscle growth, but they do not improve a player’s ability to make contact with the baseball. In addition, the article’s study reveals that cardiovascular endurance increases with the use of steroids, which would also benefit players and their ability to perform at a high rate for an entire game/season. Fans want to see their favorite players play as much as possible, so anything that increases endurance helps their cause!
Background: This article focuses on the development of MLB’s drug testing policy following many decades of steroid use. It also mentions and discusses former steroid cases and findings in the history of the game. Evidence has been found, starting in the 1980’s, that a vast number of players were abusing MLB’s drug policy. As time went on, more and more cases of performance-enhancing drug use were found, and in 2002 a new Joint Drug Program that enforced stricter rules and resulted in more random drug tests. The article also calls for better education and better ways to improve the drug testing system.
How I Intend to Use It: I really want to focus on the idea that illegal drug/steroid use will continue no matter what rules MLB enforces. Arguably the best counterpoint to my hypothesis is that fans would be opposed to allowing steroid use because it is cheating. This article reveals that in 2007, years after the new drug policy, players had found ways to beat the system and become undetectable by the drug tests by using human growth hormones. At the end of the day, cheating by way of performance-enhancing drugs is prevalent in ALL sports, and by allowing it in MLB it would effectively create an even playing field (which is NEVER the case due to undetected drug use).
Background: This article discusses baseball commissioner, Rob Manfred, and his attempt to decrease the game length. Manfred has long believed pace of play is an issue, and more importantly, a “fan issue”. Several rules have been changed in order to satisfy fans, because many fans lose interest in games that often last 3 hours or more. For example, MLB limited the number of mound visits by catchers, as well as reduced the amount of time (and therefore commercial time) between innings.
How I Intend To Use It: Since my primary audience will be Rob Manfred, the commissioner, whose job it is to make changes in Major League Baseball, I will use this article to remind him of the many changes he’s made with little success. Changes in pace of play, a major concern of his since 2015, has caused the game of baseball many different outcomes. In many attempts to reduce game length, MLB has failed, as the game length has fluctuated up and down but still hovers around the typical 3 hours of 9-inning baseball. Clearly, Manfred wants to satisfy the fans, but nothing he has done has worked. And even if the game lasts 3 hours, a high-scoring game with plenty of home runs (due to increased muscle gain from steroids) would be much more enjoyable to watch than a 3-hour long pitcher’s duel.
Background: This article references a study that the authors conducted regarding the effects of steroids on baseball players. In their study, they analyzed players’ stats over the decades before and after the so-called “steroid-era” in baseball history. They concluded that using steroids only significantly impacted the number of players that hit 40+ home runs every season. However, it did not affect players’ batting average or isolated power.
How I Intend to Use It: The goal of my research is to find convincing evidence and ideas supporting the idea of allowing anabolic steroids in baseball. With this source, I can explain to the readers how the use of steroids could increase MLB attendance and tv ratings because people love watching players hit home runs. However, what they do not like is cheating. But steroids, in a sense, do not make players better at the game itself. As proven in the study, steroids only increased the number of home runs hit, but it did not improve isolated power or batting average. Clearly, one must still possess incredible talent to hit the ball, and to do so at a consistent rate. The only element of ones’ offensive production that is affected by steroids is their power/ability to hit the ball over the wall, but first they must make contact with the ball AND hit it at the proper angle. Not only does this article provide evidence behind steroid-use leading to more HR (and as a result, higher tv ratings/attendance/popularity), but it also proves that letting players use steroids isn’t allowing players to break the game. It isn’t giving less skillful players a huge boost in skill that they previously hadn’t possessed.