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JANUARY 11, 2008


juicing the game cover

As you already know, part of my job here on is to read everything that I can about anabolic steroids. This isn’t limited to medical journal articles, but extends to periodicals (every day) and even books about steroids in specific sports. That’s what brought me around to reading “Juicing the Game”, which is about the problem of anabolic steroids in the sport of baseball.

My background for doing these kinds of book reviews is actually pretty strong, having written 3 of them (I never understand people who criticize things they couldn’t actually have produced themselves) – as well as being’s senior editor (thus knowing my share about anabolic steroids)l, and having a degree in English as well as philosophy.

Therefore I am confidant when I say that this book sucks.

In a purely aesthetic sense, it’s not very well written. There’s more than one sentence in the book which seems to run for an entire paragraph – and by the end of which, you forget what you’re supposed to be reading about. It’s got some other issues too, like the fact that it’s just not well written or compelling. Prior to completing this book, I read “Moneyball”, which is about baseball statistics and statisticians (and how they use those numbers to win in the modern game), and that was very compelling reading – and I hate math. On the other hand, I love reading about both sports as well as steroids, and Juicing the Game was tedious and boring – a sure sign that it’s not well written.

Put another way, if you are writing a book about something that I’m interested in (much less two things!), I should at least find the book interesting. So, from an English teacher’s point of view (which I happened to be in a former life), this book just is not well written. It didn’t hold my attention, and it’s just very awkward in more than one place.
Philosophically (and by that, I really mean logically – as my concentration in philosophy was in logic), this book makes several very odd arguments. It presents the drug users as having an unfair advantage, then claims that many records were set and broken using drugs. If a record were set using drugs, then it is also broken by a drug user, then where is the unfair advantage? Over the people who never set a record? I don’t get it….

Another weird (but common) argument that the book makes is that professional athletes ought not use steroids because kids may use them as a result – because the athletes are seen as role models. But that argument –logically – doesn’t make sense. Wouldn’t a better argument be that we (society) ought not make an athlete a role model because hitting a ball with a bat, or a racket, or whatever – is neither a necessary nor sufficient characteristic to say that someone is a “good human being” (or whatever term you want to use)?

This book makes quite a few arguments like this one, which just don’t make any lolgical sense. It’s as if someone took every (*unquestioned) illogical argument and discussion about steroid use and put them all into one book.

I personally like the story where an East German athlete (female) was suffering from (previous) gender-identity issues, and after steroids, ended up getting a sex change. Not to be crass, but has this guy spent any time, ever, researching gender issues? Have I mentioned that I minored in Women’s Studies (although this is true, and I earned a minor in Women’s Studies, please feel free to insert joke here _____________________ … I’ll wait until you are finished).

Ok, suffice it to say, everything in the world is wrong with his assessment of this situation, and as further evidence that it is probably the most maniacally incorrect piece of information about anabolic steroids on the planet, I offer the fact that the story is direct off the Taylor Hooton Foundation website – which offers the worst and most distorted view of anabolic steroids I’ve personally ever seen.

For me, though, the climax of this book comes about half way through, where the author jumps the shark and makes the statement that not only can anabolic steroid use effect the user’s reproductive system (which it can – temporarily), but that it can also effect the reproductive system of that person’s offspring.

I have never seen evidence of this. I have never seen a credible study on this. I have never heard any doctor or scientist even say anything remotely like this.

Maybe I’m being dramatic, because I can (hypothetically) imagine a series of events where certain anabolic steroids can (theoretically) have some kind of effect on a fetus’ genital development (maybe). But this is similar to the use of an algorithm in theoretical physics, whereby I can prove that an elephant can hang from the edge of a cliff, suspended by a dandelion tied to his tail.

The last time I read a book with this much credibility, it involved a wolf dressing up like someone’s grandmother.

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