by Don Hooton
The use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) continues to grow among our nation’s youth. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 5.1 percent of high school males and 2.7 percent of all high school females now use steroids. The rate of steroid use among 12th graders is more than double that for heroin and exceeds that for other drugs like PCP.
These statistics do not take into account the even larger numbers of young people who are unknowingly taking steroids and other PEDs. Two recent, independent studies have found that 20 to 25 percent of body building supplements purchased off the shelf contained steroids. Steroid-tainted food supplements have become so great a threat that the Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings to consumers that certain over-the-counter supplements are spiked with steroids.
To a large extent, our young people are motivated to do those things that they see their role models doing in order to make it to the top of whatever sport that they are playing. Sadly, there have been too many examples of athletes who have sent the wrong signals to our kids. None us have any trouble recalling examples of high profile athletes in various sports who have been caught using anabolic steroids. Sadly, these examples have not been lost on our young people, and many of our kids have been getting the message that it’s okay for them to use PEDs.
The performance enhancing drug that is currently in vogue is Human Growth Hormone (HGH). A number of elite athletes in various sports have been using these drugs because they work and there has been little risk of getting caught. But, it appears that this situation may be changing.
The NFL recently completed negotiations of their collective bargaining agreement with the players union and their new agreement includes random testing for HGH. This testing is intended to increase the price of cheating and chances of getting caught. Ideally, it will deter the use of HGH by NFL players.
Perhaps more important than deterring use by players in the NFL is the signal that this move sends to our children. By implementing professional sports’ first real HGH testing program, the NFL and players are sending a strong signal to youth football players that this behavior is not acceptable and that use of these drugs will result in serious punishment.
We at The Taylor Hooton Foundation applaud this move and are hopeful that this new program will be as successful as NFL leadership expects it to be.
Don Hooton is president of the Taylor Hooton Foundation.
About the Taylor Hooton Foundation:
The Taylor Hooton Foundation is the only entity, public or private, in North America dedicated to educating young people and their adult influencers about the dangers of appearance and performance enhancing drugs. The Foundation has educated hundreds of thousands of people across the United States and Canada via their Hoot’s Chalk Talk programs. The Foundation was founded in 2004 in memory Taylor E. Hooton, a 17-year old student athlete from Plano, TX. Taylor committed suicide as a result of his anabolic steroid abuse.
For more information on The Taylor Hooton Foundation visit www.taylorhooton.org.