Mark McGwire is on the ballot for the baseball Hall of Fame. A lot of people
are saying he should not get in because of steroid use. Now, I’m a strong
believer that steroid use in pro sports is cheating. I think it goes against the
principles of sport in general; athletes are supposed to compete against each
other physically, and in many cases mentally, but not chemically. Also,
it teaches our young athletes that becoming the best you can be is not good
enough on your own, you need drugs as well. Not only does this damage their
self-esteem, but it puts them at risk because steroids can be dangerous, even
deadly. So on that basis, I think McGwire should not be in the Hall.
On the other hand, it has never been proven that McGwire took
steroids, nor has he ever admitted to it. Also, steroids were perfectly legal in
baseball until after McGwire retired, so even if he did take them, technically,
he never did anything wrong. His stats are
unquestionably worthy, and his home-run race with Sammy Sosa in the late 90’s
gave baseball a much-needed boost in interest (only a few years after the
interest-killing strike), so maybe he should be in the Hall.
On the other hand, the criteria for being in the Hall includes your conduct
off the field, and McGwire has repeatedly refused to answer any
questions regarding steroids, including questions in front of a Congressional
inquiry. This refusal could be seen as an admission of guilt, or at least
qualifies as detrimental behaviour, so maybe he shouldn’t be in the Hall.
On the other hand, baseball has far worse people in the Hall of Fame. Ty Cobb
was a racist who once fought with an umpire (after a game), and stabbed a man
to death during another fight. Kirby Puckett was arrested for groping a woman and
was accused of other “lewd acts” (according to Wikipedia). Those are just
two examples, but given that, does taking legal (at the time) “supplements”
qualify as detrimental enough? Maybe he should be in the Hall.
Should McGwire be in the Hall of Fame? I dunno. I’ll let the baseball
writers decide. I’m happy sitting here on the fence.