Remember when it was cool to “Be Like Mike?” It’s no secret that kids look up to sports stars, and many would love nothing more than to be just like their hero, like many wanted to be Michael Jordan, when they grow up. However, the very real question in today’s sports climate is, “Would you want your child to grow up to be just like Lance Armstrong? Or Alex Rodriguez? Or any of the number of other athletes that have publicly been accused of taking performance enhancers? (Marion Jones, Carl Lewis, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and a host of others). With the huge amount of information in the media recently about sports stars and the use of illegal performance enhancers, it’s only a matter of time before younger athletes will start to question their own abilities and skills as compared to their favorite pro athletes. Are we sending the message to kids and teens that skills and talent alone aren’t enough to compete, play, or be good at their favorite sports?
It may not seem like it’s necessary to address the possible use of performance enhancers, including Human Growth Hormone and the other often-mentioned drugs such as testosterone and steroids, until you learn that there are child and collegiate athletes who are being encouraged to dope now so that they can compete in professional sports later! While adults can make a rational choice to take a supplement or performance enhancer due to declining levels or a specific weight, muscle building, or fitness goal, children and teens are not often required to take supplements or other substances unless prescribed by a doctor.
Since many adults are beginning to understand the true benefits of Human Growth Hormone (lean muscle retention, better organ function, better skin, better mood, etc.), there are some circles who feel that if HGH is so effective for an older adult, it must be a miracle substance for growing young athletes. Student athletes are now facing routine drug tests in competitions and games because so many young competitors are encouraged to get that extra edge by adults they know and trust. This has led to disqualifications, accusations of illegal substance use, and even charges being brought against amateur and student athletes.
The truth is, a child or teen has adequate levels of HGH unless they are specifically diagnosed with a disease or condition by a physician where their level of growth is stunted due to a lack of the hormone. Having young athletes take unnecessary substances could be dangerous because we don’t fully know the effects on each individual athlete, plus there isn’t a lot of information on how a substance will affect an otherwise healthy person in the future. Also, what kind of message are we sending our young athletes if we are encouraging them to be just like their superhero pro sports mentors, both those who have publicly admitted to doping, and those who are suspected of it? Our future athletes may grow up thinking that skill and talent alone just isn’t enough to win that title, trophy, or championship game.