Why Shouldn’t Cyclists Dope?

I know about as much about professional cycling as I do about Riemannian manifolds. That is to say, not a lot. But I don’t understand something that seems perfectly obvious to most people who are fans of the sport: why shouldn’t cyclists dope?

Before I go any further, let me be clear. I know perfectly well why Lance Armstrong et al. shouldn’t have doped. Every sport has some set of arbitrary rules. In football, both feet must land inside a line for a catch to count. In tennis, a serve is faulted when a foot touches the baseline. There were rules, and Armstrong and the team knowingly broke them.

Here is one of the saddest comings clean that I’ve read. Levi Leipheimer, a cyclist of whom I’ve never heard, tells the world the truth that he couldn’t tell for years. He doped. But it wasn’t really his fault. But he takes responsibility. But he couldn’t do otherwise. But he admits it.

Having made sacrifices for my dream, several years after I turned pro, I came to see cycling for what it was: a sport where some team managers and doctors coordinated and facilitated the use of banned substances and methods by their riders. A sport where the athletes at the highest level—perhaps without exception—used banned substances. A sport where doping was so accepted that riders from different teams—who were competitors on the road—coordinated their doping to keep up with other riders doing the same thing.

I regret that this was the state of affairs in the sport that we love and I chose as my career. I am sorry that I was forced to make the decisions I made. I admit that I didn’t let doping deter me from my dream. I admit that I used banned substances.

I know that learning this will disappoint many of my fans and friends and I am sorry that the sport and I have let you down.

Right or wrong, in my mind the choice was “do it or go home.” For me that was not a choice.

People will be disappointed and say I was wrong, that I should have chosen differently, and am just making excuses. I made the decision I made. I don’t offer this description of the sport as an excuse, simply as an explanation of the context and reason for my decision. I won’t lie about it—I have to own it—I accept responsibility for my decision.

I could have come forward sooner. But would that have accomplished anything—other than to end my career? One rider coming forward and telling his story in the face of cycling’s code of silence would not have fixed a problem that was institutional.

Emphasis mine. Dude. You were not stealing a crust of bread to feed your family. You were riding a bicycle. You had a choice. My guess is, if you had named Lance Armstrong as a ringleader in a doping conspiracy, you might have drawn a bit of attention.

But I digress.

There was a debate recently in the New York Times  about whether doping should be banned. Frankly, the reasons raised against it in the debate don’t seem all that compelling.

The reasons against it are 1) we should have a level playing field, 2) it’s unnatural and in sport we are celebrating human achievement, and 3) they are harmful.

We don’t have a level playing field with the substances banned because some people are taking them and some are not. And we don’t know who is and who is not. If they were permitted, we would have, if anything, a more level playing field.

The natural/unnatural distinction also seems a bit arbitrary. We wouldn’t mind if someone went on a fairly extreme diet that seemed to aid performance. We wouldn’t mind bicycle or clothing innovations that aid performance, which are certainly unnatural. Some of the doping substances are actually natural, such as human growth hormone, testosterone, or blood transfusions.

Here is a list of the doping techniques apparently used by the cyclists. I am no doctor, and maybe the doctor who is my co-clogger and best friend in the whole wide world might want to weigh in. But it seems to me that this list, while not innocuous, is not crazy crazy harmful. This op-ed in the New York Times suggests that one of the items on the list, erythropoietin, is a witch’s brew that will kill you deader than hemlock. I have no idea if this is right. I checked Google scholar for recent studies. The vast majority suggested protective or therapeutic effects of erythropoietin on various heart, brain, and blood disorders. One exception was this study, which suggested that if you already have cancer, venous thromboembolism and mortality are increased with erythropoietin.

In any case, we seem to accept significant risk to our football players, hockey players, figure skaters, ski jumpers, and pole vaulters, to name a few. In fact, these sports seem to pose much greater risk. Why is doping for cycling different?

In short, I don’t see a reason why, from this point forward anyway, cyclists shouldn’t dope for all their races I won’t watch.

Rose Woodhouse

Elizabeth Picciuto was born and reared on Long Island, and, as was the custom for the time and place, got a PhD in philosophy. She freelances, mainly about disability, but once in a while about yeti. Mother to three children, one of whom is disabled, two of whom have brown eyes, three of whom are reasonable cute, you do not want to get her started talking about gardening.


  1. The theory is that sport should demonstrate the potential for excellence in a human being, in a human body. Introducing “unnatural” substances to enhance the body is thought to be cheating because now the competitor is not only a human but a human and a drug. Well, that’s the idea anyway. I don’t think it holds up.

    Range-finders, in golf, are devices that are used to quickly measure the distance from a given point on the fairway to the pin. You look through the range-finder at the pin and line the pin up to a little line, and then you know how far away you are and therefore can better estimate what club to use. The rules of every professional golf association ban the use of range-finders because having that kind of an advantage, not having to rely on your own “natural” vision and the “innate” abilities of your body, is thought to be cheating somehow. The advantage is thought unfair.

    Now, there is no rule in any major golf association against a player voluntarily getting laser eye surgery to improve long-distance vision to better than the equivalent of 20/20. As I understand it, many players have done this, and they aren’t even asked to disclose whether they’ve had the vision-enhancing surgery. But they can see better and are better able to judge the distance from where they are to the pin than players without the surgery. The surgery is not “natural,” it is an intentional modification to the body to give a player an advantage.

    Oh, and the fans sure love it when the athlete is performing well. So much that the athlete’s fans frequently forgive or maintain willful ignorance about the use of stigmatized, if not prohibited, PEDs.

    • “The rules of every professional golf association ban the use of range-finders because having that kind of an advantage, not having to rely on your own “natural” vision and the “innate” abilities of your body, is thought to be cheating somehow. The advantage is thought unfair.”

      See also: Disabled golfers and golf carts, which was in fact the subject of several court cases.

  2. I don’t care about cycling much one way or the other, and at least a part of me (a very small part) thinks Armstrong should keep his awards for having beaten the system for as long as he did, but #3 is what has resonance to me. It’s not that cyclists are harming themselves per se, but that by allowing it, you make cyclists have to harm themselves in order to be competitive. Or something like that. If there are not-unhealthy ways of doing it, well then okay. But I suspect (perhaps ignorantly) that if there are not-unhealthy ways to become good, there are unhealthy ways to become even better. Then you have to police for that, which (a) strikes me as harder to police (you can have this, this, and this in your bloodstream, but not that… am I wrong in thinking this would be harder to parse out?), (b) moves us further along the lines to unhealthy.

    The most dangerous thing about athletes is that so many would give up 20 or 30 years of their life (or more) for that one moment of glory, so to speak. I can’t say I am that comfortable with helping them along.

    • you can have this, this, and this in your bloodstream, but not that… am I wrong in thinking this would be harder to parse out?

      My understanding is that in many cases we are already there if not further along. Blood transfusions for instance don’t show up as an alien substance in tests but as a higher red cell count. But lots of things can raise or lower a persons red cell count so we are left arguing about how much of an increase is needed to count as evidence of banned practices. The days when it was as simple as banned chemical yes or no are long past.

    • It’s not that cyclists are harming themselves per se, but that by allowing it, you make cyclists have to harm themselves in order to be competitive.

      That’s the only argument against it that makes sense to me. If it were just pros, I might even let that go, but it isn’t; given how much money pros makes, this pressure shifts down to college and even high school kids that might be on a path to a pro career.

    • It’s not that cyclists are harming themselves per se, but that by allowing it, you make cyclists have to harm themselves in order to be competitive.

      I should have read the comments before writing my own. This is exactly what I was trying to say over four rambling paragraphs.

  3. I remember many a years ago a lecturer (I think it was physiology) explaining how athletes can manipulate their metabolism with diet. Not eat healthy and you’ll be fitter but specific stuff about when to eat protein or carbs in relation to when you train. He argued that the changes in performance and blood chemistry this causes are as big as a lot of banned substances so I have a lot of sympathy with the view that this is a rule that does little good.

    That said it seems to me sport is nothing but arbitrary rules, the question is never ‘how fit are you’ but ‘how good are you at doing this particular thing’ and ‘this particular thing’ is defined by the rules irrespective of whether those rules have any wider utility so I think the authorities have to enforce the doping ban up to the point where the rules are changed.

  4. I’m not a particular expert on the various banned substances, but there are some health risks.

    With any substance or procedure that increases red cell volume, there is a risk that blood becomes sludgy and more prone to clot. Patients receiving transfusions or erythropoietin in medical settings are almost certainly getting regular blood counts to make sure their hematocrit isn’t rising into dangerous ranges. I would assume the regular or random tests cyclists are made to undergo would detect rises in counts that would trigger suspicion well before it reached dangerous levels, but I have no real idea, nor do I know what the medical personnel who abet dopers might do to mitigate this risk.

    Testosterone can have all kinds of unpleasant side effects (acne, testicular shrinkage, impotence, mood swings), and long-term use may confer an increased risk of certain cancers. But I don’t know nearly enough about the specific hormones used in this kind of doping to know how risky they really are. My understanding is “not very,” similar to the use of human growth hormone.

    • I gather they give themselves saline or plasma when they expect a test to reduce red cell count. I have no idea either how responsible are such doctors. Maybe getting this out in the open might actually mitigate some bad-doctor problems?

      The fact that this still strikes me as significantly less dangerous as some of the other sports listed above has just made me think professional sports should all be banned. Or boycotted.

      • I don’t know how interesting or relevant it is, but one of my very few parental absolutes is that under no circumstances will I allow my child to play tackle football. I find it baffling that a sport so incredibly terrible for the human body is not only enjoyed as a form of mass entertainment, but is a recreational activity for innumerable children and adolescents.

  5. Someone (a drug company, perhaps) should fund a series of “dope-all-you-want” races — that would help us find out what fans really care about and perhaps reduce the temptation to cheat in the non-doping tour. Let’s put the free market to work.

  6. Rose,

    I think the issue has to do with the fundamental fairness of some athletes doping and some athletes trying to legitimately earn their athletic achievement. For instance, as a runner, I accept the fact that almost everybody in the world is going to beat me. I’m big, I’m slow, etc. What I wouldn’t accept is those same runners that I’m willing to lose to in a head-to-head competition were instead allowed to start well ahead of me. That’s what those drugs do; they advantage those taking them against those who aren’t.

    I don’t think anybody, for the record, stands opposed to doping because of the rider, but rather, because of how it imbalances the outcomes of athletic events.

    • Sam,

      If everyone were allowed to choose their own starting line, would you still object?

      • Of course I would object. I have no problem losing; I have a problem getting beaten on an unfair playing field. Every athlete ought feel the same. More obvious allowances like my starting point example would NEVER be tolerated; that steroids occasionally are is simply a misunderstanding of what they’re doing to the competition.

        • So where do we draw the line? If your competitor works out and you don’t, does that confer an unfair advantage? If your competitor works out with a trainer and you work out alone, how about that? If your competitor drinks a protein shake and you simply eat a balanced diet, is he getting a head start? What if you have a protein shake but he has a nutritionist and personal chef who carefully crafts his meals using the latest techniques and cutting edge science?


          • There is a difference I think between all of those examples and the situation that exists with doping, in that all of those examples are allowed under the sport’s rules (and understood by the sport’s fans) and doping is neither allowed nor understood.

          • Sam,

            But how do you decide what is and is not allowed? I’d argue Tommy John surgery has far more of an impact than any drug. Without TJ surgery, guys would *never* pitch again. Their careers would be over. TJ surgery turns a non-pitcher back into a pitcher. Even the best drugs likely don’t turn non-ballplayer into ballplayers. They likely turn average ballplayers into good ball players, good ballplayers into great ballplayers, etc. Their impact is far less disparate.

            And before you mention that one is a medical procedure and one isn’t, I’m pretty sure Bonds was working under a doctor’s supervision, which I think should be part-and-parcel for any allowable performance enhancement drug regimen.

    • I think the issue has to do with the fundamental fairness of some athletes doping and some athletes trying to legitimately earn their athletic achievement.

      I think slipping that word “legitimately” in there begs Rose’s question.

      • Athletic achievements are illegitimate when earned outside of the sport’s governing rules.

  7. Personally, I think a lot of the hand wringing over PEDs, doping, and the like is motivated by the sanctimony of sports writers.

    For me? I don’t really care what athletes take SO LONG as they follow the agreed upon rules. I object to Armstrong’s doping not because I think doping itself is a problem but because I think agreeing to rules and then violating them is.

    What should the rules be? Let grown men and women make informed decisions about what they put in their bodies. We’ve long passed the threshold of “natural” athletics. Cortizone, Lazik, Tommy John surgery*, hyperbaric chambers, and the rest of it (all legal in most sports) are all highly unnatural, sometimes moreso than those things that are banned. If you took everything above board, you could eliminate or mitigate many of the health effects by imposing safety standards and encouraging athletes to work under the supervision of a doctor. At this point, many PEDs have no greater side effects than any other prescription or even OTC drug. And these will be what athletes gravitate towards instead of illegal Mexican testosterone if they were allowed.

    * Tommy John surgery is a procedure where an injured elbow ligament is replaced by a ligament from a different part of the body (most often the opposite arm’s wrist). It is named after pitcher Tommy John who was the first ballplayer to have it done (and perhaps the first human to have it done). Is anyone going to argue that cutting out a ligament from your left wrist to put into your right elbow so you can pitch when you otherwise would never be able to throw a baseball is “natural”?

    • Kazzy, as you know I am not a big sports guy and I also favor legalization of any substance people want to take, as a general rule.

      That said, I was discussing this with a friend who is a sports guy the other night and the competitive nature of sports does seem to me to present a special problem. With regular recreational doping, making the tried-and-true basic drugs legal would prevent most people from taking experimental ‘bath salts’ type drugs and going nuts (because the safer old ‘standards’ get you high enough, without killing you; just like nobody drinks bathtub gin anymore).

      But for athletes, the pressure to compete and win is always going to drive them towards the cutting-edge. The ‘safe’ stuff will frequently be passed over in favor of the ‘potentially most advantageous’. It’s their jobs to win, not just fun.

      I don’t favor making it illegal, but I am not sure that opening it up will solve the basic safety issues (that is, it can’t hurt; but I am not sure how much it will help either).

      • That’s a good point, Glyph. But, at the very least, cutting edge will involve science and doctors; not snake oil salesmen and mystery substances.

        But, again, these are adults.

        • No doubt, and as I said during the Olympics, I personally would watch events in which athletes are taking not only PED’s, but heavy stimulants, narcotics and hallucinogens as well.

          I think it would be the closest we ever get to seeing an X-Men battle in real-life; maybe some would even develop psychic powers 🙂

          • It just boggles my mind that, on the one hand, we revere the athlete who’ll do anything to win and leaves it all on the field and blah blah blah. Only, we hate the athlete who’ll do anything to win if “anything” involves “things we think are naughty”. Um… what?

            We hold athletes to a different standard of professionalism than nearly every other profession.

          • Bear in mind, as a guy who is more into music than sports, in my field of primary interest it is not only accepted, but well-known that the biggies have done some of their best work under the influence.

            Nobody thinks the Velvets’ groundbreaking records are ‘cheats’ because Lou was hooked on smack at the time.

        • But, again, these are adults.

          I’m going to be uncharacteristically paternalistic here. Yes, we are talking about adults here. But those adults almost invariably go through an apprenticeship period called college and high school. If the adults are doping, the college apprentices may not get the attention of the pros if they are not doping also. And then the high school apprentices may not get the attention of the colleges if they are not also doping.

          If we could draw a hard line between the professionals and the college/high school kids, or perhaps even between the college kids and the high school ones, I’d be a lot less concerned.

          On my daughter’s high school swim team are some girls who broke 20+ year old school records. They have D1 potential, but probably not top tier D1 potential. UMich, a swimming powerhouse, is a half hour away, and anyone would be thrilled to get a scholarship offer from them. A PED may be all that stands between them and that scholarship.

          • That is a fair criticism.

            Again, I think any of this should be done under the supervision of trained professionals. A college system could mimic the pro system. In high school, ideally parents are involved.

            It’s not perfect, admittedly, and I’m sure there are more logistical issues than these. Of course, if college wasn’t the unpaid, quasi-mandatory apprenticeship system it was, there would be other avenues to address the problems you raise.

          • I think there’s no question that this should not be allowed in high school. We have a strange case in college…

          • As I’m sure you’ve seen as a teacher, Kazzy, and as I have certainly seen as a pediatrician, parents are not an entirely reliable source of good decision-making on their children’s behalf.

          • Oh, I agree it shouldn’t be allowed in high school. But I don’t know if the appropriate enforcement mechanism is banning it at at the professional level.

            But I also think we should be realistic about things. There are probably a number of PEDs or other “banned” forms of enhancement that would be perfectly healthy for even a high school athlete if properly supervised. Likewise, there are plenty of legal and acceptable forms of enhancement that are damaging for athletes (weight lifting at too young an age a prime example).

          • And there is football, heading the ball in soccer, pole-vaulting in high school. Plus girl’s sports, such as gymnastics, that encourage eating disorders.

          • Oh, geez, higher level “womens'” gymnastics looks like abuse more than sport to me.

  8. We like to imagine that our athletes gave their left nut in the gym and then went out there and accomplished this. If we instead take into account that these people won the genetic lottery, then the willpower lottery, then the access lottery, then had the most cutting edge pharma on top of everything else? Instead of “human achievement”, it feels like engineers overclocking a anomalously good processor. Sort of like a biological Nascar.

    I suspect that there will eventually be a gestalt shift and people realize that they would rather watch biological Nascar. There’s going to be a pile of bodies after that. Well, in the short term.

    • We like to imagine that our athletes gave their left nut in the gym

      Given how many male athletes are taking steroids, it’s better to say they gave both nuts.

  9. Haven’t read the comment yet, but here’s why I think is wrong, and ought to continue to be banned: given the nature of high level competition, the difference between winning and losing is often measured in tiny, almost infinitesimal differences in physical output. In cycling, that difference can be as little as tenths of a second over a very long race. Given that performance enhancers provide a substantial (ie, more than infinitesimal) increase in physical output, every athlete who wishes to remain competitive must use performance enhancers (or consign themselves to accepting a less than first place finish).

    Now, I’m quite a fan of cycling. About the time of Lance’s third consecutive Tour win, I was convinced that he was juicing. Why? Because the margins of victory and success in that sport are so slim, and difference between winning and losing is so narrow, that to have done it three consecutive years in a field of other cyclists who were juicing – and had been busted for doing so – is beyond improbable. By the time it reached seven consecutive wins, it was – in my mind and lots of other people’s minds – a foregone conclusion that he doped.

    You wrote: If [PEDs} were permitted, we would have, if anything, a more level playing field.

    I disagree. Permitting them would effectively require everyone to take them, even if they didn’t want to. And I think there are lots of riders who don’t want to take them. Even some riders who in the end make that choice. Perhaps even Lance was in that situation.

    • Well, the Levi Leipheimer op-ed suggests that already is the case.

  10. To clarify my position, I would prefer to see sport have LESS artificial enhancing of the athletes. But that is purely an aesthetic preference. I am an avid athlete and worker-outer and I’ve never done anything, not even a protein shake. Just a personal preference.

    But given what we have now, with a bunch of arbitrarily drawn lines, a bunch of inconsistent punishment, and a lot of sanctimony, I’d rather just blow the top of the whole thing.

    I don’t think PEDs is a moral issue OUTSIDE OF the breech of trust and sense of fair play that comes with athletes who agree to play by rules but then violate them. But I don’t see it as much different as video taping opposing teams or flouting recruiting rules and the like.

    • I think the difference is this: recruiting rules and taping other teams practice sessions (or whatever) can be legislated by a governing board and either abided by or not by the relevant individuals. Banning a certain type of recruiting doesn’t compel anyone to a specific type of action (it merely prohibits the expression of an action). Permitting PED use effectively requires athletes to take them, if they wish to remain competitive against they’re PED taking peers. I think that’s a significant difference, one with moral implications.

      • Are you serious, Still? If State U is paying recruits, you don’t think that pressures State Tech to do the same?

        If the Mew Mengland Matriots are taping teams signals, you don’t think that pressures other teams to do something about it, perhaps something outside the rules?

        • You have it flipped, I think. The logic of competition is that people do what they feel will give them the best chance of winning. So permitting PEDs would be like permitting paying recruits. Prohibiting PEDs would be like prohibiting paying recruits. If you permit it, you’re effectively (legislatively) requiring it.

          • Well, I’m also okay with paying recruits so…

            Yeah, I get that. I just don’t think the two cases are similar enough to analogize from one to the other.

            The argument I’m making against permitting PED use is that doing so effectively requires cyclists to take them in order to stay competitive. That’s a far cry from a flawed institutional arrangement which requires them to not take PEDs.

            Here’s one way to say it: permitting a recruit to receive payment for playing college football doesn’t require anything of the individual athlete – he can take the money, give it to charity, return it to the university, etc. It does, however, require institutions who want to remain competitive in recruiting to pay recruits (insofar as payment is an incentive to choose one institution over another). This situation isn’t analogous to permitting PED use in cycling because a) there is no secondary institution which would be compelled to act in a certain way given the permission to do so (it only effects the individual athletes themselves), and b) the incentive structure created by permitting PEDs would essentially require the individual athlete to take them to remain competitive.

            Of course, one argument here – the one Rose is making, I think – is that the incentive structure is there in any event, so why not just make PEDs legal and be done with it. I think the answer is that all other things being equal, most riders don’t want to take PEDs. I think the culture around PED use in cycling is actually changing, and the “culture of silence” is breaking down. That’s not to say that people won’t try to cheat, of course, and that some people will get away with it. But stricter enforcement permits people who don’t want to use PEDs to play on a level-er field than otherwise.

            I think Lance getting busted, and quite likely being stripped of his seven Tour wins, is gonna shake things up a lot. Not definitively, but it will make team managers and sponsors much more proactive on seeing that PEDs aren’t being used by their athletes.

          • Well, how effective has baseball been at rooting out drugs?

          • Rose,

            It’s a bit early to tell but some anecdotal evidence seems to support the idea that their program is working.

            Offensive numbers are way down. If you accept the narrative that PEDs were primarily helping the offense, than it would seem logical to conclude that PED usage is weigh down. There are a lot of people who don’t accept that narrative for various reasons (e.g., pitchers were also using, perhaps moreso; PEDs might not have been having as much of an impact as believed; baseball tends to move in cycles anyway) so it is really hard to tell.

            Minor League Baseball (MiLB) had a stringent testing policy well before MLB did.

            All-in-all, the efficacy of any of these programs is always hard to tell. The cheaters are always one step ahead, since you can’t devise a test for a drug you don’t know exists. Compound that with the MLBPA (players’ union) refusing to allow blood testing and HGH and other drugs might be running rampant.

            The thing is, baseball has a long legacy of cheaters. Before the modern PEDs, you had amphetamines and “greenies”; before that, you had spit balls; before that, you had segregation. What chafes my britches is that many of the folks who today stand as proud champions of PED bans insist we should go back to the good ol’ days of yesteryear… ya know, when players still cheated. Which is why it all sounds like sanctimony to me. Barry Bonds’ health is probably far better than anyone popping amphetamines every day in the 70’s.

          • Well, how effective has baseball been at rooting out drugs?

            Increasingly? Does that count as an answer?

    • Mike the link doesn’t work anymore do you know which episode this was from? I want to shoe it to my husband

  11. Every sport self-limits. That’s why it’s not sportsman-like to shoot a bird that isn’t ‘on the wing’ meaning it’s not cool to shoot them out of a tree. It’s a silly rule but we do it. In general we want to believe that all athletic competitions are humans preforming at their natural bests…so I personally don’t like performance-enhancing drugs. With that said it’s almost impossible to stop it. Gross but true.

    • I think the question Rose seems to be asking is: Where should that limit be? On which side of it should doping be?

      I’m okay with limits. I’m not okay with the arbitrary, conflicting limits that are inconsistently applied.

        • That’d be an interesting place to start.

          One of the interesting things is that many athletes often get busted not for having an actual PED in their system, but having a known masking agent. So Drug A might make you bigger/faster/stronger. Drug B might have no impact on size, speed, or strength, but it hides the fact that you did Drug A. Athletes get caught with Drug B in their system. Athlete gets suspended, even though it is possible they never actually took Drug A. Now, they are often told exactly what will be considered a masking agent and thus ban but it is still an interesting way that the policing system works.

          For instance, Manny Ramirez was busted because he had female infertility drugs in his system, which is often what players use between cycles to regular hormone levels.

  12. I do find it amusing that British cycling list one of the arguments against doping as potentially would allow science to determine sporting results. This from people who have a fishing research department and openly brag that their approach is science based.

    I am *not* accusing them of doping but to put so much money into studying the effects of the cyclists shorts and the temperature of their bedrooms and then say something else brings in too much science seems, shall we say odd.

  13. Reading through the comments, I also have to ask the question, “are professional athletes truly adults when making decisions about their own careers?” I keep seeing more and more interviews with baseball and football players who don’t seem to be connected to reality.

    For example, I vividly recall back in the 90s watching a grown man sobbing on television that he only made $750,000 per year. Sobbing. Like a baby. We have a nine-month-old, it was a very similar visual.

    And I don’t think it’s a very unfair comparison. Take a professional athlete that began training in middle school. At the age of 12, he is told that he is going to be a pro someday. And he starts training for it. He goes on the high school where he is reminded you’ll be a pro and he is treated to all kinds of perks, benefits, expectations, and of course, rewards.

    Effectively, he becomes trapped in this bubble, where he is the star and everyone around him exists to support that. His parents, his coaches, his peer group, which then go on to become his posse, all exist to keep pushing him forward. And, in doing so keep him effectively locked into a less mature mindset.

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