Ellis Paul

Aug 2 2006 - Sports and Music, Drugs and Enhancers

Aug 2 2006 - Sports and Music Drugs and Enhancers
Charlottesville, VA
August 2nd, 2006

I' m gonna ramble on about my disappointment with the sports world.. I crave news stories of fantastic human accomplishment. Especially in sports. They break up the monotony of my week-- i go the sports pages specifically to find them-- the record breaking runner, the blind mountaineer scaling Everest, the fastest, strongest, The world record setters. As a certified couch potato, I live vicariously through the physical accomplishments of others.

My legs burned when I read the stories detailing Floyd Landis' incredible comeback in the Tour de France. When I read that Justin Gatlin ran 100 meters in 9.77 seconds, I felt winded. When Barry Bonds cracked his 715th home run and passed Babe Ruth on the all time list, my hands ached from the imaginary grip on the bat.

I occasionally take a tape measurer out and mark 29 feet four inches across my living room. The world record for the long jump. I can't believe a human being could be airborne for that great of a distance. The high jump record is just over eight feet high. I marked that on my wall. Someone got their entire body over that height with nothing other than muscle for jet fuel. It's amazing.

But I doubt everything now.

Baseball, football, track and field. I have no faith anymore.


I even doubt my two year old daughter when she's racing her tricycle across my living room floor. "What's really in the juicy cup, Ella?!"

I'm starting to wonder about Tiger. Jordan. Who is real? Who is clean? Flo Jo has the women's world record for 100 meters in track and field... 10.49... I doubt that a woman can run that fast today without the added fuel of a steroid or two. The record is one of the oldest in the books and is still would finish more than 20 yards in front of the second fasest time.

Maybe we should just have a drug league in sports so these crazy competitors can see how far steroids will take them? Imagine someone who dwarfs Mark McGuire, hits 100 homers in a season. Imagine a sub 9 second 100 meters. A 40 flat 400 meters.

Mankind broke the four minute mile in the 1950's, it was something even reasonable people doubted could ever be accomplished. Now a skinny legged African has run 7:58 for two miles. Did he cheat? I dunno.

But I want my athletes clean!

My musicians however, are another story. Do what you got to do for the art, brotha. Bob Marley-- please, light the spleef... whatever you got to do to get to "No woman, No cry"... Lennon drop acid, please, whatever you got to do to get to "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" Dylan... please do speed if you gotta write like a freight train to get to "Like a Rolling Stone"! Morrison, here's some whiskey for the last verse of "Light My Fire". Heroin for my heroine, Billy Holiday.

I want my musician's dirty.

aaaaaahh.. I'm joking ...really. Most musicians are often are just thrown into that kind of behavior in their careers anyway, it comes with the job, alchohol, pot, recreational drugs, all exist in the confines of nightclubs, festivals, bars... I don't wish addictions on them. I just want them to be to get beyond the normal confines of human artistic limits. Drugs can help make that happen, drugs can bring the whole house down. I'm sure there are some musicians who were wildly successfully who clearly never took drugs. Debbie Boone for example.

Maybe they should try steroids... imagine Bob Dylan on steroids... Or Little Richard... Imagine Barry Bonds on acid, for that matter.

The stigma of Barry Bonds doing steroids is worse than the stigma of Elvis on speed. We expect our entertainers to get by on a little pill, but not our athletes. I think we should have the Rolling Stones pee in a cup before every show so we know they aren't tainted in concert. That would make for a good clean show. Ron Wood just went into rehab, Keith Richards just fell out of a coconut tree.

These guys still know how to party.

When an entertainer goes down in a drug induced beakdown, Robert Downey for example, Mel Gibson, Marilyn Monroe etc., there is a morbid fascination with the Fall. Intrigue. Some sympathy. Some wonder at how someone who has everything money can buy, could fall apart to the point of losing it all. They are addicts, and victims of an illness. When an athlete falls from grace due to drug use, he is a cheater. A liar.
He's not addicted to testosterone, steroids, blood doping. He has cream rubbed on his legs. He's not smoking crack in a dark alley. He's not waking up in a neighbor's bed room. There's no evil underbelly to it. it takes place in a locker room or doctor's office. When American's do it, it is even more frustratin got me. They already have been born into this silver spoon nation, where every opportunity is laid before them. Better facilities, more money for training, better doctors and science, better sponsorships. They already have a distinct advantage, just by being American. If someone in Ghana uses steroids, I almost can't blame them for trying to level the playing field. it's till wrong. But how much of a chance do they have?

I'm a music fan, and a sports fan. I accept my hypocritical perception of drug use in each realm. Some drugs are bad. Some have saved billions of people from cancers, infections, disease. Sports drugs are bad. They helped set world records. Music drugs, well, they've helped create the white album. Which is good. We live in a world where people are gonna do what they do to get by. Some mennonite kid is going to forget why he got this pure joy out of being on a bike, forget how it road him out of a small backwoods community and into a culture of need and greed, where winning is more important than the ride. There is some 12 year old kid inside him reminding him of the magical ride he had through the woods on some night where the yellow jersey didn't matter. or the lucrative nike sponsorship, or the today show interview. when dreamin of success was all you needed to get to the next mile marker.

Anyway... just thought I'd rant. There is a statistical way to analyze records that fall outside the normal bell curve. maybe we could really scrutinize athletes that are off the charts and hold onto their blood samples and test them when technology allows a thotough investigation. Then we would really know about Flo Jo, Marita Koch, and others...

see y'all out there soon!

updated: 3 years ago