Cape Gazette
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People In Sports

Society not selling the side effects of steroid use

Prevalence of problem is rarely talked about
By Dave Frederick | Jul 05, 2013
Lyle Alzado, Oakland Raiders end and later movie actor, died in his 40s from a brain tumor he claimed was caused by his steroid use.

Side effects - The short- and long-term side effects of anabolic steroids bought on the street are not being sold strongly enough to emerging athletes and the adult workout world of non-athletes. Feeling good and looking better seems to trump everything else.  Heart and liver damage fall into the side effects category along with being a raging bull with shrinking gonads - talk about unnatural. And long-term use increases the likelihood of unpredictable behaviors and brain tumors, although the brain cancer link cannot be proved. There are plenty of steroid users out there who are 20 years beyond being optimum power players, with life-threatening problems before age 50. This is a case where the collective community has turned its head and coughed.

I want to win - Cliff Lee is the best left-handed pitcher who has been traded the most times of any southpaw hurler I can think of. He has been to Philly twice, because for some reason the Arkansas boy likes living in Rittenhouse Square and hearing that grinding Philly accent cover sentences like, “Yo! Get up on outta there, Skippy!” Recently asked if he wants to stay in Philly, Lee said, ”I just want to win.” I like Lee, but he wants a $90 million contract and he wants to win too. I wonder if he’d take half the money to play for Baltimore with a condo at the Inner Harbor.

The Quiet Man - My brother Tom lives outside of Philly and keeps me updated on the Guess Who Died  list of departed sports stars. We’re talking athletes we had played with or against a half century ago. I never guess, because that would be strange, so I just listen and prepare to cringe.  This week my brother added another name to the list, a guy who played on our parish school basketball team. The notice in the paper listed no family or friends. I always feel sad when a person, a young star, lived a full life and died leaving behind no family and an obituary four sentences long.  He was a quiet kid, a great athlete who over a three-year period said about 11 words. And then one night a few years later he got into the Ballantine beer and wouldn’t stop talking and both sides of the conversation discovered they didn’t like each other and we never spoke again. Grand Mom Rose: “Never tickle the quiet guy.”

Let’s face it! The reality of sports is that most high school athletes will never play a second beyond graduation, and a small percentage will flounder somewhere freshman year before throwing in the towel. The same reality exists for academics in that most course credits etched on a transcript have zero transfer value into real life. I always tell young people that athletics is a lifestyle, and no one can stop you from being an athlete except yourself. And beyond that, pay attention and be smart; try to learn stuff. The best education is informal and happens every day. We treat student athletes like they are all going to be Olympians with PhDs, but can they filet a tuna or extract a fork from the garbage disposal is what I want to know.

Snippets - Twenty-six NFL players have been arrested since the Super Bowl. That is half a team. A story surfaced about Tim Tebow stepping in to get Aaron Hernandez out of trouble when both were freshmen at the University of Florida. Tebow has survived in that crazy world of football, and his values have never wavered. I find that impressive.

Cape will open the football season with a tough schedule, playing road games at Milford and Archbishop Spalding before returning home to play Indian River, Caesar Rodney, Bullis School and Dover. Hit the weight room, boys, that schedule is no joke. Cape field hockey will play six games in September. Game six is Saturday, Sept. 28, at home versus Severna Park, the only team to beat Cape last season. Cape soccer, coming off an 11-3-1 season, returns tons of talent and some junior varsity players ready to step into the varsity lineup.

Trainer Roger Hunt, who worked the Beach Blast lacrosse tournament and has 49 years' experience, told me in his opinion athletes who played more that one sport were less prone to injury because they developed more secondary muscles. It’s those little counterbalancing muscles and lots of stretching - and a degree of good fortune - that keep an athlete healthy.

Go on now, git!

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