Steroid Nation covers alot of fluff. Lighthearted, interesting stories. This story isn't one of them. This is a serious thinker with very good ideas.
The Seattle Times carries a story about former Stanford Cardinal, current Seattle Mariner farmhand Chris Minaker. He played baseball at Stanford, so this is a guy with some brawn, and some brain. He used his brain at Stanford, as a sociology major, to study steroid use among college athletes.
The well-spoken, 23-year-old infielder from Lynnwood graduated last June with a master's degree in sociology from Stanford University, achieving a perfect score on an 86-page thesis about the social pressures athletes face to take performance-enhancing drugs.
"If the need for steroids is broken down by sport, it becomes clear that baseball has the biggest problem with steroids," Minaker writes, citing results of a confidential, written survey he took of 91 male varsity athletes at Stanford. "It is also baseball that has had the most well-publicized steroid problem of all of the professional team sports. It seems that the problem of the professional ranks has trickled down into the collegiate ranks.
Minaker studied Stanford varsity athletes:
His sample size is admittedly small, with nine of 89 athletes who answered the survey question on steroids admitting they took them — five of those being baseball players. He also points out, in an appendix to the research, that the Stanford football team was largely uncooperative with the survey and "remains shrouded in secrecy" about its supplement usage.
This is good stuff, (not 'groundbeaking' as the Times hype puts it, but good).
But this is still groundbreaking work, done by an "insider" and hardly the type of endeavor typically pursued by active players. Minaker says he was merely intrigued why so many of his fellow athletes took nutritional supplements, including protein powder, amino acids, creatine and — yes — steroids, without really knowing what they were putting into their bodies.
The following statements are insightful, reasoned pieces of inductive thinking. In other words, impressive.
"I looked at the social pressure to use and the perceived effectiveness of the supplements," Minaker said. "People were most likely to use supplements when told to by two or more of the strongest influences in their life."
Teammates exerted the strongest external pressure by far, he said, followed by coaches. A coach, he writes, "can attempt to use his power to pressure his players into using supplements that he thinks will improve their performance, even if this is against the will of the player." Minaker found that the pressure athletes felt to use supplements, both from within and from external forces, was so great that they'd take products they had no proof even worked...
"In this study, it seems that every athlete is or has been on something," Minaker writes. "The supplement culture has become completely intertwined with the culture of collegiate sports, just as it had before with professional sports. There has been a trickle-down effect from professional sports right on down to the ranks of all athletic levels."
Minaker hit .137, with 4 HRs, and 17 RBIs last year at Wisconsin. He also has scholarship money waiting for him when his baseball career is over.
Considering at his initiative and his cognitive skills, this guy has a future in medical school, law school, or a graduate program. Very impressive.