May 21, 2009

Is Manny Ramirez Really All That Bad?: Randy Cohen, writer of The Ethicist, takes on doping in sports and suggests a different method of handling it.

posted by apoch to culture at 10:49 AM - 8 comments

How is it not unethical to gain unfair advantage in a sport through the use of performance-enhancing drugs? You might have been able to argue that it wasn't unethical 15 years ago, when it was less clear what drugs were legal and what ones were not in the sport, but we're not in that era any more. Players wouldn't be getting these drugs through the mail or other back channels if they didn't think it was cheating.

posted by rcade at 11:38 AM on May 21, 2009

I don't think that he's arguing that it isn't unethical. His argument is that its also a health issue and that MLB, the NFL etc should take a stance that they need to regularly monitor and consistently enforce their rules for the sake of the players' health. He uses the "helmets in hockey" comparison as an example.

Its actually a fairly rational, well reasoned argument - though I'm still cynically in favor of mandatory PEs for all players of every sport.

posted by Joey Michaels at 05:03 PM on May 21, 2009

He nicely avoided the issue that allowing PED in the pro ranks would most certainly cause a higher use of steroids in the college and high school levels. Is that safe?

posted by dviking at 08:03 PM on May 21, 2009

Um, his argument wasn't that we should allow PED's. His argument was that calling it a health issue would be a more effective way of curtailing PED use than the current method of calling it a moral issue.

"Even if you regard such developments as morally dubious, the way to curtail them is not by denouncing putative failures of individual rectitude baseball has tried that for years with unimpressive results but to recast the issue as one of workplace safety."

posted by apoch at 07:04 AM on May 22, 2009

Do you really think that the current bunch of steroid users would have not used them if there had been stronger health/safety guidelines in place?

These athletes knew that there were some risks associated with PEDs, but felt the potential reward was worth the risks.

The helmet analogy is weak, in that the helmet does not create a benefit (as measured in athletic performance), and, we protected the kids first.

posted by dviking at 08:09 PM on May 22, 2009


No analogy is perfect (that is why they are analogies). The basic point that recasting an issue interms of health is an effective way to change things, and the helmut is a good example.

posted by brainofdtrain at 12:12 PM on May 24, 2009

The lack of ethics on Manny's part have little to do with drug usage. Purposely failing to perform one's job to the best of one's ability because one is not happy with the terms of his contract is unethical. This is exactly what Manny did last season in Boston. If any business executive at any level tried this, he would be summarily escorted out the door.

posted by Howard_T at 05:36 PM on May 24, 2009

while no analogy may be perfect, this is one is quite flawed.

The wearing of the helmet does not create an advantage, and not wearing one really doesn't as well. True, some of the older players tried to argue that it slowed them down/restricted their vision/etc. but no real advantage existed, thus players fairly quickly adapted to the rule, when they realized the safety benefits, which are easily determined.

PEDs, on the other hand, give the user an advantage, and the health benefits are not as certain. So, I do not think that ARod, Clemmens, Bonds, the list goes on, would have not taken the drugs had the league taken a stronger safety stance.

I could be wrong.

posted by dviking at 08:34 PM on May 24, 2009

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