Athletes contemplate but choose wisely

This is an article that I wrote during my sophomore year at McDaniel College about collegiate athletes (mainly at McDaniel) and performance enhancement drugs. I talked to wrestlers, football, lacrosse and baseball players. This is what I found out from talking with these Division III student athletes.

At one point in time steroids came to the mind of all college athletes for the extra strength that they need so they can compete with that other linebacker, quarterback, pitcher or outfielder. McDaniel coaches, trainers, athletic director and Terror athletes are on different sides of the fence on the issue of steroid use in Division 3 and at McDaniel.

Green Terror athletes spend a lot of time in the weight room lifting weights and working hard to compete for roster spots and starting positions. Athletes can spend so much time in the weight room but there is only so much that they can do. By their competitive nature, athletes will try to gain an advantage over their teammates for playing time anyway possible.

“There comes a time when you can’t do anything more,” says sophomore defensive back Matt Lufkin. “There comes a time when you can’t lift any harder or do anymore.”

It is always tough to see that guy come into the weight room, spend an hour there, leave and still get playing time over the guy who was “the first one in and last one out.” No athlete wants to see that. So they look for a way to gain an advantage.

They are always competing with someone, no matter if it is during a game or during practice. They want playing time.

“No one likes to work hard and not get a chance to show it,” says senior wrestler Leon Checca.

Athletes will look for the easiest way to gain strength, become stronger or faster. That way usually leads to steroid abuse. With steroids athletes can lift harder and longer. Steroids have testosterone that allows athletes to work out for a longer period of time and cuts down on the recovery time of the athlete.

“[Steroids] decreases the recovery time,” explains McDaniel Athletic Trainer Gregg Nibbelink. “They will lift too much and never let the body heal.”

But the negative affects of steroids do not have any affect on athletes. They are thinking of the present and the near future.

“They want that $100 million contract,” says junior linebacker Jay Scott.

Neither Scott nor Checca has ever considered using steroids. Steroids are the easiest way to get bigger and stronger. They are the worst thing to ever happen to sports in this society. To put it simply steroids are the easiest way to cheat.

“They are an inevitable part of the game,” says Lufkin.

Athletes want to play. They want to show that they can play. They have worked so hard. Some coaches at McDaniel recognize that athletes my try or consider steroids for a roster spot. But other coaches such as the men’s lacrosse Head Coach, Jim Townsend, think just the opposite.

“If they have to compete for a roster spot then they have issues other than steroids,” says Coach Townsend.

Coach Townsend and football Head Coach Tim Keating do not believe that there are athletes at McDaniel who are using steroids. And they are right. There has been no evidence that suggested a Terror athlete had been using any type of performance enhancing drug, according to Athletic Director Jamie Smith.

“I haven’t seen athletes at McDaniel about steroids, so I can’t prove it’s being done [here] or not being done [here],” explained Nibbelink.

But Nibbelink is not saying that there definitely are no Terror athletes on steroids. It is possible that athletes can do steroids because the NCAA drug testing policy is not the same in division three as it is in divisions one and two. This has sparked the idea of having more stringent and random testing in division three.

Division one and two athletes have random drug testing but division three athletes are only tested if they make the playoffs. So it is possible for a division three athlete to be using a performance enhancing drug during the season. The only thing that athlete has to keep in mind is: what if the team makes the playoffs?

“If a player thinks they will go to the playoffs or nationals they won’t do it,” says Nibbelink.

Nibbelink, as well as Keating, is for random drug testing. Athletes will less likely to use any performance enhancing drugs if they know that they can be tested at anytime, according to Nibbelink. He also thinks that the NCAA should pay for the testing if they really want to drug free the college athletics.

“McDaniel can’t avoid to do random drug tests,” says Nibbelink. Drug testing can cost a school up to $1 million per year.

But not everyone is for random testing. Checca is one who is against. It is not the answer to the steroid problem in division three. Testing doesn’t prove anything, according to him. As long as they get off the drug a few months before they have the idea they are going to be tested the drugs will be out of their system.

Division three athletes are different than division one and two athletes. Division one and two athletes are playing mostly for the chance to go to the next level (the professional level), says quarterback and lacrosse player Brad Baer.

“D3 athletes are playing more for the love of the game,” says Checca.

Steroids do not make the athlete. The athlete has to already have some skill and talent level before he/she steps onto the field. The steroids are not going to do it for them. Athletes have to be willing to work and put in time in the weight room, says outfielder and quarterback Tom Weinrich. They have to be willing to be “one of the first ones in and one of the last ones to leave.”

“You can take all the steroids you want but if you don’t lift nothing’s going to happen,” claims Coach Townsend.

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