Steroids In Your Context

It came out this week that Manny Ramirez used illegal performance enhancing drugs. As a consequence, he is forfeiting approximately $7.7 million in salary and will be suspended for 50 games, or 1/3 of the baseball season. You can read the full story here.

I’ll be the first to say that my typical reaction to stuff like this isn’t sympathy; it’s somewhere along the lines of “What a moron.” The reasoning is simple – he’s already a superstar, making tons of money, an incredible amount of fame and noteriety – why jeopardize it with something like this? After all, it’s my understanding that steroids don’t make a bad ballplayer good; they simply can make a good ballplayer great.

That understanding puts a new spin on the temptation associated with steroids. Think of it like this: Let’s say you’re an author. You already have a couple of books out, and they’re selling reasonably well. Then someone comes to you saying that if you did this one thing, you would go from being a reasonably well known author to being on the best-seller list. The only problem is that thing is a little shady and might have some long-term negative effects.

Or maybe like this: Let’s say you’re a blogger that has a strong readership of 250 hits a day. But with one action you can increase that to 700 hits a day. Again, the only problem is that the action might or might not be morally questionable.

Or maybe this: It’s tax time, and you’re getting a refund of $500. But with one little tweak here, your refund will jump to $1500.

You could easily justify simple actions like these:

“I’m only hurting myself.”

“It’s for the benefit of others.”

“I’ll do good things with my money.”

But here’s the thing with all those justifications, and all the above scenarios: I can tell myself that it’s not a big deal, or that it’s for the benefit of others, or that the ends justify the means. Ultimately, however, I am at the center of the motives. It’s about me – my benefit. 

Without commenting too much on Manny in particular, I do find myself today thinking of the thousands of little ways that I think about me under the guise of “it’s not that big a deal.”

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