After watching Roger Clemens stutter through a House committee hearing regarding his alleged steroid use, one could be excused for wanting to escape the locker-room stench surrounding professional sports. The Rocket may have been sweating from the strain of dodging questions, but for those of us watching from home, bearing the tedium was like 40 minutes on the elliptical machine. Most of us would rather hear about the latest strung-out musician’s drug-induced public tirade. And that’s because nobody does drugs like musicians. Barry Bonds can stick a needle in his butt cheek and smash a baseball 600 feet. But Ozzy Osbourne can chase a line of cocaine with a line of ants. Way cooler.
In an article for Fort Worth Weekly, E.R. Bills compares the steroid craze in baseball with the drug experience in music. Bills wonders why we have such different expectations for the practitioners of the two forms of entertainment since, he suggests, musicians use recreational drugs for the same reasons athletes use steroids. The difference, of course, lies in the level and brand of competition in the two worlds. There is certainly competition in the music industry: to sell records, win awards, make the cover of the music glossies. But in sports, the competition is the art. And because performance-enhancing drugs may define the outcome of the competition, their impact is completely different than the impact illicit drugs have had on music.