Monday, October 29, 2007

Society, hypocrisy and drug use

A question struck me the other day while watching the news; why are sport stars condemned for using illegal non-performance enhancing drugs, but musicians and artists celebrated for it?

The news had a novelty piece basically lauding Ozzy Osbourne for his many years of drug abuse that has addled his brain so badly he doesn’t know who he is anymore. The next article was a savage attack upon a sportsman who had the temerity to be caught with illicit drugs. The two newsreaders severely criticized the sportsman, primarily because they felt he was such an important role model to so many young people. It was a fantastic example of double standards, but I’m not sure why it is this way in our society.

Why is there such an amazing level of hypocrisy here? Why are some musicians almost worshipped for their abuse of illegal drugs and alcohol, but sportsmen are somehow expected to maintain a perfect existence? Bon Scott has achieved legend status in many parts of the music world, having died of alcohol and drug poisoning. The whole “Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll” lifestyle is often glamorized by the media, and successfully played up to by rock stars. At the same time, sportsmen are sacked from their jobs for often quite minor offenses, and the media crucify them. Why do we, as a society, seem to accept these differing standards?

Cricket Australia is in the process of finalizing its drug testing protocols in relation to non-performance enhancing illicit drugs. It will be interesting to see what the final version looks like. I fully accept and support the necessity to test for performance enhancing drug use. There is no doubt that public figures should not be seen to be promoting illegal activities, but I fail to understand why sportsmen are subject to testing for non-performance enhancing drugs. If we are going to test certain sections of the community for illicit drug use, then random testing should be considered similarly appropriate for our journalists, politicians, judges, police, teachers, musicians and so on.

I must conclude by admitting that I have never taken illicit drugs myself, and have never had any desire to do so. But to pick one section of society such as sportsmen and apply different standards to them strikes me as immensely hypocritical.


Ottayan said...


Off hand, I can point you to one one cricketer, who got Knighted, who had admitted to taking recreational drugs.

Seriously, I think sportsmen,by nature of their vocation, are expected to be the epitome of physical and mental strength.

Whereas, artists, poets,authors,rock stars are expected to be creative and obviously a bit weak in the head,
hence forgiven.

I remember two celeberated instances, one is Coleridge and another one is Bharathi, a Tamil poet, well known for his fiery poems against the British.

Both wrote their best after inhaling opium.

However, Bharathi never got Knighted and by all accounts neither did Coleridge.

Soulberry said...

Stuart, I have often wondered the same. Having dabbled with the "theater set" at a very early point of my life, I have heard many justifications which are the same ones one hears over and over again from all sides. It is the same excuse a fake sadhu will hand out to explain his "chillum" induced godliness.

I have come to the conclusion that 1) double standards do exist 2) sportsmen are considered the exact antithesis of this set (musicians, poets, writers, artists etc)...they are somehow imprinted in the minds as being representative of all that's virtuous in mankind. Please don't get me wrong here, but I feel such a classification exists in minds. Therefore the unvirtuous deeds of sportsmen/women cause a harder and emphatic fall. It arouses the most biased reactions from people which wouldn't come when an actor or singer does so. They are expected to...somehow they are not representative of the best qualities of man in ordianry minds.

3) There are also different types of media/press...both mirror their respective interests...the "creative" press mirrors the crreative highs of its "charges". It doesn't downplay that aspect. It converts it into a virtue.

The sports press is the exact opposite!

Now when the neuter press (news channels etc) pick up a story, most do not have the courage or inclination to counter one press, while it is easier to chide the other...when the sporting press has already begun to chide their own severly. There may be a even less legal culpability for the chiding has already begun and the neuter press is merely providing a platform.

Of course these are just my assumptions and analysis to explain to myself why such distinction exists. They could be all wrong.

Uncle J rod said...

I support all addictions for all people.

Anyway i'm off to my sexaholics meeting.

Sumit said...

interesting. it's another version of the dilemma raised by aldous huxley who justified the use of mind altering drugs to come up with great thought and literature.

SixandOut said...

Echo Soulberry's point no. 1

Generally, musicians and all live far more complex lives than sportsmen I think. I guess that's why people don't boo-boo their drug stuff too much.

Anonymous said...

Lets talk about Shane Warne. Shane Warne did not take a performance enhancing drug. But he did take a drug that can hide other performance enhancing drug in the body.

"The Australian Sports Drugs Agency declared the test of Warne as positive. The sample contained the traces of the banned substance, diuretics. Although diuretics is not classified in the category of performance enhancing substance, its use is prohibited since it is considered a masking agent for other enhancing drugs taken by an athlete. "

It is mostly assumed that sportsmen want to perform better and hence will do anything it takes- including drugs to improve performance. here we are not considering exceptions like Freddie ...(ok his was not drug abuse but alcohol abuse)

Yobbo said...

Alcohol is a drug too, and a much more dangerous one than some illegal drugs.

And alcohol will (negatively) affect your on-field performance much more than something like cocaine or ecstasy does, which is why most sports stars nowadays are taking those isntead.

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