10 Questions With Richard Justice
3. Can Obama Help Steroid Situation?
Posted On 05.17, 2013
RCS: Beyond the governing powers of baseball, there are also the governing powers of the country. In his most recent column, Jay Mariotti wrote, "I realize this country has more issues than any five commanders-in-chief could handle. We ache for Obama to fix the economy, end warfare, make people happy. But sometimes, the presidency also involves voicing harsh, aggressive statements about secondary problems."
Most baseball analysts seem to agree that the Congressional hearings scared a lot of players straight. Do you think there would be any added benefit if President Obama involved himself in the situation?
Justice: I'm OK with the president using his bully pulpit on this matter. At the beginning of this thing, I didn't think Congress should be involved because, frankly, we were at war and issues regarding the environment, energy, etc., seemed much more important.
I was wrong. Congress helped. I don't think MLB’s players and owners would have toughened the program if Selig and Fehr and McGwire, etc., hadn't been called to Capital Hill and had their hands slapped. They'd shown in the past they move glacially on this issue.
I'm disappointed that not one piece of legislation was ever passed. Ask your local cop how much time he spends on steroids. The answer will be none because the laws are so toothless. Steroid use among high school boys and girls is a real problem and should be dealt with. But the hearings also allowed Don Hooton to tell the story of his son Taylor, whose suicide may be tied to steroid use. He believes having a platform to tell his story raised awareness on the issue.
As far as Congress scaring players straight, I'm not so sure. Throughout this thing, the players acted so arrogantly. They seem to think the laws of the land don't apply to them. But it can't hurt. Having the president speak out certainly would help, too, if only to shine a spotlight on how slowly the players and owners reacted to this problem.