Money is an unreasonable priority for the American people; not only does it hurt the people who are pursuing it; it also destroys the system for recreating it hence also hurting those who have constructed the material incentives. Instead, American society ought to find ways of increasing ethics and honesty in different facets of life.
The pressure to perform has never been more alive than it is today. Sportsmen are continuously under pressure to work harder and faster by their managers who are also pressured by their superiors. In essence, the sporting industry has been converted into money-making machinery for the owners and athletes have becomes the main sources of money.
Individuals such as Barry Bonds are being used by big time sporting administrators to distract the public from what is actually going on in the field of sports; love for the game has changed to love for money (Zirin, 311). The media and certain members of the public have claimed that this successful baseball player is using steroids and that he needs to be stopped from playing the game. However, no single test has ever turned out positive for this athlete even though baseball stakeholders still keep pursuing the subject.
Instead of focusing on the real issues (pressure to perform and unfair structural changes in the game) that are causing some athletes to use steroids, these politicians, the media and administrators are targeting completely innocent individuals. The truth simply is that many baseball players are under too much pressure from above. If they are not willing to deliver the results that their superiors expect of them, then they may simply be thrown off the team.
In order to avoid this, athletes will go to extremes in order to cope with the pressure such as by using steroids. Overemphasis on money in baseball is actually compromising on the values of the game. Poor athletes in the minor leagues are often more than willing to experiment with steroids in order to be make it into the major league (Zirin, 304).
Even the not so poor may still be coerced into taking steroids because some of the standards in the game are simply too hard to attain. Criminalizing the use of steroids does not solve the problem because it is the excessive competitive pressures that are pushing athletes to such unethical behavior. If the people running the game of baseball were to shift their attention away from money and focus on the integrity of the sport then most of these problems would be eliminated.
Once this is done, baseball league seasons would be much shorter and more enjoyable and this would put the players under less pressure. In the end, they will find no need for the use of steroids and the integrity of the game would be restored (Zirin, 302). In essence, the major link between steroids and baseball is too much love for money. Eradicating the latter vice would make the sport ethical again.
This craze for perfection is not merely confined to the sports arena; it has also permeated the academic field as well. Students are now rushing to cognitive enhancers such as Adderall and Ritalin which were initially used as prescription drugs for children with attention deficit disorder.
Some of these students may belong to reputable tertiary universities or colleges which may require too much from their students. Individuals may be trying too hard to balance their academics with their extra curricular activities (Talbot, 263). Clearly, this becomes too difficult for some students to manage so some of them are using cognitive enhancers to bridge the gap (Talbot, 263).
Most students go for nueroenhancers not because their natural biological systems just cannot cope with all this pressure of college life. Indeed, this abuse of prescription drugs by students is indicative of an even deeper societal problem; a winner-takes-all attitude (Talbot, 265). Most of these actions can start in universities but will be replicated at workplaces and other areas of people’s lives.
Individuals are continuously under pressure to be winners so that they can partake of the material benefits that come out of being in such a position. For example, when a child does well in high school, they are likely to get into the best College or University and when they are the best in their respective tertiary institution, they are likely to be sought after by employers and other members of their desired profession. When they get jobs, only the very best get high salaries and other perks.
At the core of this quest to be the first is the need to access material benefits. As students, education is becoming more and more strenuous because standards get tighter and rewards are granted to the select few. At the workplace, it is the best and the brightest that seem to get access to promotions and bigger pays (Talbot, 264).
Consequently, those who appear to have slackened or those who are not as productive as others may be pushed to the curve. These immense disadvantages for being ‘average’ is what is leading people to abusing prescription drugs like Adderall. Society is becoming increasingly obsessed with rewards rather than the process of making it there.
It takes sacrifices and hard work to attain these benefits and doing so through shortcuts only illustrates that people are too focused on material incentives rather than other important values. Such tendencies are already trickling into the corporate arena. For example, an international business woman who has just entered the country from another may be required to give a speech at a conference even after excessive jet lag and having no sleep at all (Talbot, 264).
Since the material benefits of making the deal are so huge, this person may decide to take some cognitive enhancing pills in order to seal the deal. Such a person may justify her actions by asserting that she was only trying to capitalize on this one chance that she had (Talbot, 264).
However, one can see that such a person was simply taken over by the need to have a quick fix to a business problem so that she (or her company for that matter) might enjoy the material benefits of doing so. Too much emphasis on money or material incentives is what is causing members of society to break rules or use dishonest means in order to get what they want.
At the end of the day, the leaders may be blamed for this excessive love for money. Usually, if leaders want to encourage certain behavior then they could use an economic incentive, a social one or an ethical one (Levitt & Dubner, 119). The economic ones are often tied to material losses while the social ones often involve aspects that would shame an individual amongst his or her peers.
The ethical ones often focus on a moral issue related to the subject. When too much focus is given to economic incentives then this sends the message to the public that material benefits are important and should be sought after. The problem with American society today is that too much focus has been given to economic incentives over and above moral and social incentives in sports, education and the workplace.
This has put too much pressure on the said competitors hence encouraged the use of unfair practices because everyone needs to access those economic incentives. Now people are losing their sense of value because of this quest. Leaders at the top in almost all spheres of life need to start reengineering the way incentives are arranged.
The sports arena should go back to moral incentives such as honesty and this would bring back integrity into sport. In education and the business world, ethical values need to be given greater precedence because without them competitors will continue to buckle under the pressure of reaching for economic values. They will result to unethical means to get their rewards and this may cause immense problems such as drug abuse.
The use of stimulants in sports and education is indicative of an overemphasis on material rewards that creates a need for perfection. One way of tackling this relentless quest is to focus on ethical incentives rather than economic ones.
Talbot, Margaret. Brain Gain: the underground world of neuroenhancing drugs. 2009. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/04/27/090427fa_fact_talbot?currentPage=all Accessed on 27 October 2010
Levitt, Steven. & Dubner, Stephen. A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything. 2009. Retrieved from http://www.bookreporter.com/reviews2/006073132X-excerpt.asp
Zirin, Dave & Chuck, D. Barry Bonds Gonna git your mama: when steroids attack. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=gkt_DYq1b7kC&pg=PA148&lpg=PA148&dq=dave+zirin+barry+bonds+gonna+git+your+mama&source=bl&ots=FvSFKbgpUk&sig=XQBd_x1xnG7-kxVen6bf8L3YoR0&hl=en&ei=44PHTNaCE5CosQOO3qjIDQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CDcQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q&f=false Accessed on 27 October 2010