On Tuesday, Barry Bonds appeared before a gathering of nearly 100 reporters and systematically dodged questions about his alleged use of steroid cream.
In this press conference, the latest in a string of childish tirades from baseball’s former and current stars, Bonds mixed oddly phrased insults with self-righteous indignation. First, Bonds accused the assembled journalists of resembling reruns of “Sanford and Son;” then Bonds called them “jealous” and claimed, “I don’t know what cheating is … I don’t believe steroids can help … hit a baseball.” Bonds deftly turned the tables on the reporters, accusing them all of lying and asking that asterisks be added next to their names.
As far as I’m concerned, the best evidence for steroid use among ballplayers is the rash of pig-headedness and aggressive infighting that began with the publication of Jose Canseco’s tell-all memoir “Juiced.” Pig-headedness, aggression and gynecomastia — aren’t we looking at the classic symptoms of steroid use?
Before I get carried away, however, I would like to say that I couldn’t care less about what sorts of cream Barry Bonds uses to lubricate his body. Any major dude will tell you that the key to whacking balls out of the park is hand-eye coordination and hand speed, not strength. Bonds put his finger on the real problems facing America when he called out for Major League Baseball to leave steroid users alone and put a stop to the “documented killers,” alcohol and tobacco.
At Yale, too, the fight against alcohol, tobacco and firearms, has been recently renewed — and for good reason. Just as Barry Bonds knows that the key to breaking baseball records is longevity, not strength, Yale realizes that it is in both the students’ and Joan Elizabeth O’Neill’s interest to keep us all alive as long as possible. This is not to say that Yale’s motives are selfish, but they do stand to gain if they manage to save us from ourselves. After all, extrapolating from the CIA Fact Book and United States’ mortality statistics, about 20 Yale alumni probably died last year from alcohol-related health problems. If you saw the sort of nine-to-five binge drinking that goes on at reunions, you might understand why the University wants to nip this problem in the bud.
The current review of undergraduate drinking regulations is part and parcel of what the Yale Alumni Magazine in March 2001 called a “new temperance in America.” Last year, Yale finally officially prohibited smoking in dorm rooms, in accordance with the new Connecticut State Law that also prohibited smoking in bars. This new regulation will probably do little to stop the few diehards who are hell-bent on smoking in their bedrooms. The number of smokers at Yale, however, has decreased so much in recent years that smoking is no longer a central concern of the University.
Guns are also out of the picture. Residential colleges cracked down on the recreational use of guns last year, imposing new regulations on their annual “Assassins” games out of respect for the real dangers being faced by our troops in Iraq. In Silliman, the game is no longer known as “Assassins” but instead by the more lighthearted “Silliwet.” Instead of the more powerful water guns used in the past, which were occasionally mistaken for real weapons by the police, participants in “Silliwet” are now required to use only shark-, orca-, or dolphin-shaped pistols. These changes were made because playing realistic war games was considered disrespectful to our troops, while playful, mocking games with guns were seen as much more appropriate.
The crackdown on tobacco and firearms leaves alcohol as the remaining dangerous legal substance at Yale. If Tuesday’s News article, “Parents calm over drinking,” is to be believed, the University has somehow managed to keep parents in the dark about Yale’s drinking problems while school officials frantically work to curb our binge drinking.
Although I doubt the administration will make any sweeping changes to the current policy, I am waiting with bated breath. Without the comfort of my guns and cigarettes, I’ve been drinking more recently, and I am worried about my health. I had four drinks one night last weekend — that’s only one away from binge drinking according to Yale.
Maybe I should just stick to the intimate pleasures of steroid cream.
Andrew Smeall has an orca-shaped water pistol.