Alcohol is a much bigger problem than steroids
- 03-24-2005, 12:30 PM
Alcohol is a much bigger problem than steroids
Alcohol is a much bigger problem than steroids
By: Joan Ryan
Virginia Republican Congressman Tom Davis claims steroids are a public health crisis. That's why he and his colleagues have gone to the trouble of summoning some of the biggest stars in baseball to Capitol Hill to testify. It's about -- all together now -- protecting our children.
Let's say the motive for this steroids hearing is, in fact, about protecting America's kids from the harmful influence of sports leagues that care only about boosting ticket sales and TV ratings. Then I imagine we can expect a big ballyhooed hearing soon on the substance that is most glorified by sports leagues and kills more kids every year than every other drug combined: Alcohol.
No single industry promotes the consumption of alcohol among teenagers as much as college and professional sports.
Nebraska Republican Rep. Tom Osborne knows a bit about college and professional sports. He played for the 49ers, then coached the University of Nebraska football team for 36 years. During those years on the Nebraska campus, he says he dealt with only three students who abused steroids -- and thousands who abused alcohol.
"Probably 85 to 90 percent of the negative incidents on campus, whether dealing with players or other students, were in some way related to alcohol,'' Osborne explained. "About 70,000 sexual assaults each year are related to alcohol, and 500,000 injuries.
"We have justifiable anxiety over 1,500 (American) deaths in Iraq of a two-year period, but alcohol kills 1,400 college students annually.''
That is a public health crisis and why, as Osborne's colleagues delve into baseball's secret little underworld, he'll be elsewhere, calling upon the National Collegiate Athletic Association to ban alcohol commercials from all broadcasts of the NCCA basketball tournament.
"Colleges and universities continue to take money from beer companies whose ads glamorize drinking and target a youthful audience,'' Osborne said. "They're sending very mixed messages to their students, because every college president will tell you that the No. 1 problem on their campus is alcohol.''
The 1,400 college students who die each year from alcohol-related injuries translates to three or four students every single day. Try to find any reputable research that says steroids has killed a single child. There isn't any. Several suicides have been linked to steroid use, but as tragic as they are, they do not constitute a public health crisis. The numbers of kids using steroids in the U.S. barely registers on the scale of teen drug use. In a 1999 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2.7 percent of 8th- and 10th-graders and 2.9 percent of 12th-graders had taken steroids.
By contrast, 80 percent of high school seniors have used alcohol; 32 percent say they had been drunk in the last month. About 3 million teens are said to be alcoholics.
Baseball's unwillingness to acknowledge its role in glamorizing steroids, however unintentional that promotion might be, is nothing compared to its unwillingness to acknowledge its role in glamorizing alcohol.
Nearly 1,000 alcohol commercials aired in 2002 during the telecasts of the Super Bowl, the World Series, college football bowl games and the National Football League's Monday Night Football broadcasts, according to the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth.
Every time a kid tunes in to a March Madness game the next two weeks, he or she will see an average of four advertisements of attractive young people having a great time drinking. By year's end, this one kid will see about 245 such ads. When researchers from Teenage Research Unlimited in 2002 asked teens to choose their favorite commercials, more named commercials for Budweiser than for any other brand, including Pepsi and Nike.
But it's not only television commercials that associate sports with alcohol. Kids see enormous Bud ads on scoreboards at stadiums. They see Coors as the official name of the Colorado Rockies ballpark. Down the road from Capitol Hill, they see promotions for Smirnoff Ice and Captain Morgan's Gold products in the Washington Redskins' stadium and on television during Redskins broadcasts. They see Crown Royal as the official sponsor of auto racing's International Race of Champions. The list goes on.
The money and power the alcohol industry wields are enormous. In 2003, when a landmark National Academy of Sciences report to Congress concluded that underage drinking costs the United States $52 billion a year, he co-sponsored a bill that would have funded new efforts to prevent kids from drinking. The bill failed even to reach the House floor, thanks to vigorous lobbying against it.
The National Beer Wholesalers Association is the fifth-highest spender of all political action committees in Washington. The alcohol industry spent $10,164,916 last year in Washington to promote its products.
Last month, Osborne and his co-sponsors reintroduced the "STOP Underage Drinking'' bill, and its passage is as unlikely today as it was last year and the year before.
"You're swimming upstream,'' Osborne said of fighting Big Alcohol.
Even the House Government Reform Committee concedes that no legislation will come out of today's steroids hearing. Steroids are already illegal without a prescription. Baseball already is moving, however slowly, toward a stricter drug policy. What, then, is the point of Congress devoting an entire workday and hauling in baseball stars and executives?
A hearing about sports and alcohol would mean a parade of parents and experts testifying about drunken driving accidents, violence, rape, unsafe sex, suicide, educational failures and crime. It would mean a photo exhibit of the 1,400 college students lost last year to alcohol. Such powerful testimony surely would put pressure on Congress to do something about it.
And that's why the recent hearing was about steroids.
- 03-25-2005, 01:30 AM
I've always said this. But unfortunately they say that they want to "help the children" when really they want to help their wallets. all the hush money these politicians get from alcohol companies is the real reason why politicians don't bother with alcohol.
It's so sad, because so many people I know are just looking to kill themselves, either just being drunk in the street or drunk driving. It's ridiculous and NEEDS to be illegal!
Also, add cigarettes to that list, but NO way that is being made illegal. It's so fukin ridiculous how these politicians can live with themselves. It's not that they don't know of these problems, rather they'd just choose to ignore it.
These politicians need to stop being a bunch of bitches and either make everything that is BAD illegal or get the **** out of government and make everything legal and have people learn about consequences. If everything was legal then I STILL wouldn't do drugs or drink, it's bad, and I know it. Stupid people, however, would kill themselves and darwinism would reign.
03-25-2005, 02:45 PM
Making any substance illegal for personal use doesn't work. Prohibition taught us that lesson. The crime rate shot up to unpreceidented levels during prohibition, and believe it or not, so did alcohol consumption. Making alcohol illegal would only increase usage and create a whole new market for crime, all while taking away valuable tax dollars.Originally Posted by cable626
03-25-2005, 05:25 PM
Persoanlly, I think this is the key. Make everything legal and use the wasted law enforcement dollars on education. If you are still dumb enough to play russian roulet with the stuff you know will kill you, then so be it.Originally Posted by cable626
I just find it amazing (but not surprising) that governements happily allow the sale of products like alcohol and tobacco - which they KNOW are deadly- yet banned steroids and are comtemplating banning supplements.
I wonder if they would throw me in jail for growing my own - oranges that is
03-25-2005, 05:48 PM
But isn't it sad that we are more interested in tax dollars rather than public health? If that's the case then why not legalize marijuana and tax that also.Originally Posted by Nullifidian
03-26-2005, 01:15 PM
People should have the right to put into their body whatever they want, as long as they are not infringing upon the right of others. After all it is 'their body' not governments body. Nullifidian is right, prohibition doesn’t work. If drugs were legal, gangs and organized crime would have a much harder time surviving. Cops could actually help people as opposed to concentrating most of their collective efforts busting drug dealers/smugglers/producers/users. Adults deserve to be treated as such, capable of making their own informed decisions. The money that is spent on that joke they call the 'drug war' should be spent on rehab centers and education- (not to be confused with propaganda), so that people who actually want help can get it. Society just doesn’t have respect for individual citizens, and government has been pressing so much anti-drug propaganda into our heads for so long; the average person does not really believe the government lies to them and just sort of falls into the realm of fear. Right into their trap; keep people afraid and they will consume and they will submit to control. The truth is right in front of you. The obstacle is your ego.
03-27-2005, 09:51 PM
I personally would draw a couple of distinctions between alcohol and tobacco. It's not uncommon for people using alcohol to act in a way that directly harms others, typically through drunk driving or violence. On the other hand, as long as I'm not forced to breathe second-hand smoke I'm at much lower risk of being significantly harmed by a chain smoker vs. by someone who is drunk.
I do agree that adults should be able to put more or less whatever they want into their own bodies, as long as they're not harming anyone else. I do wonder how to *keep* them from harming innocent bystanders as a result. When someone's drug use causes them to harm someone, they've crossed an important line. (I'm not referring to cases where a person has to resort to crime to afford a drug, simply because that's usually caused by the artifically high prices brought on by illegality.) I'm not sure if greater penalties or more severe punishments for crimes comitted under the influence would make any difference, since drunk people don't seem to have good judgment at that time anyway.
The social policy questions are a different matter. Things like, how should insurance deal with people who intentionally risk their health with alcohol/tobacco vs. people who don't, especially in the majority of developed countries with universal health care. I have no real idea what to do about that.
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