After reading the other Luke's post on the acceptance of steroids in MMA, the one thing that stuck with me was the question all the bodybuilders who have used for 20+ years are asking: Where are the bodies?
Where indeed. If no one has died from steroid use and the usage of them in a controlled and scientific environment has no long term negative effects on your health, then perhaps we should legalize them and allow professional athletes to use them. On the surface this seems to be a very reasonable stance. I myself said that my main problem with the entire PED issue is that they are currently against the rules, and so anyone using them is giving themselves an unfair advantage.
But after thinking about it for the remainder of the evening, I was reminded of this piece done for the New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell. I recall it being posted here in the past and I apologize to the poster who originally linked to it.
The article notes the serious brain trauma that every football player subjects themselves to and draws a connection between the love and respect for football players American society has and the love and respect that a dogfighter has with his dog. It is a fascinating insight into why we love the sports we do.
Former NFL players are increasingly found to be suffering from Dementia in their early 40s and 50s. There have been a number of high profile deaths of former players, all linked in some way to the repetitive blows to the head that they suffered while playing the game. New studies are showing that sustaining repetitive blows to the head, no matter how hard they are, significantly increases the likelihood that one will develop Dementia and Alzheimer's later on in life.
In MMA and Football, the entire point of the game is to assert your physical dominance on your opponent. The greatest defensive player of his generation, Ray Lewis has been quoted as saying "football is about taking a man down." He isn't referring to a double leg.
Recently an acquaintance explained to me why his girlfriend can't stand MMA: Because when someone gets knocked out, they are suffering a catastrophic brain trauma. She just can't reconcile that. It is an issue that weighs heavily on my mind. Do we allow people to endanger themselves for our enjoyment? Do we need to protect people from themselves?
Legalizing the use of PEDs in MMA will give us better, faster, stronger fighters. It'll give us more exciting fights. It will also give us more catastrophic brain traumas. And, as the football fraternity is already learning, it will eventually give us the bodies.
Until there are drugs that will increase the ability of the brain to withstand repetitive blows to the head, drugs that increase the ability to enact these blows should not be allowed, in any sport where such blows are prevalent.