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Work/Life: Performance-Enhancing Drugs…It Ain’t Just Baseball, Baby!

CEO Dad’s Tuesday Tirade….

CEO Dad’s Tuesday Tirade….

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The Mitchell Report has everybody rushing to deflect blame and responsibility regarding the illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional baseball. Everybody wants to point a finger, but it’s time to get a little more global on this one, folks. Nearly everything we see or read these days has devolved from a pleasant distraction into some form or other of a spectacle. It’s all been getting pretty forced over the years, and now it’s at a tipping point. How can we tell what is really a gargantuan thing when another mediocre, two-part, made-for-TV miniseries about lust and murder in a small town starring Jaclyn Smith and Bruce Boxleitner is billed as “an NBC movie EVENT! Clearly, our standards for what qualifies as an “event” have lowered. And so, everything from department stores to theme parks to, of course, professional sports, have had to inject the very IDEA of what they are with metaphorical steroids just to get people pumped up about spending their money on a dress, an uneventful ride loosely based on a hit movie, or a couple of bleacher seats. Baseball was long ago dubbed “the great American pastime.” Pastime. Ahhh. Now, doesn’t that connote something a little more laid back? A pleasant way to “pass” the “time.” Well, forget it. Like everything else in our culture, it is performance-driven. Is it any wonder there might develop a compulsion to enhance that performance, so that everybody gets their jacked-up, “event”-style money’s worth? Hey, if the ball goes sailing over the left field wall, who cares if it was a scientifically-created human Transformer that sent it there?

And we’re not immune in the workplace, or at home. What is coffee if not a performance-enhancing drug? All right, so a baseball player can’t request he be injected with a steroid that’s double-decaf latte-flavored, but for us go-getters, three cups a day allows for an artificial sense of increased potency, so that we can allot extra time to tasks that keep us working, sacrificing time with our loved ones, because everything depends on last quarter’s numbers, and if the company is going to have an “event”-ful spring, you better darn well not slow down for a second. Of course, all this stress makes you too exhausted to relax enough to experience true physical intimacy, but don’t worry, there’s another performance-enhancer waiting in the wings for you: Viagra! (Just don’t forget that you’ll have to slot a full four hours into your Daytimer if you go that route…and you may not have that kind of time to spare.) E-mail, Blackberry, fax, a faster car…all things designed to increase our performance, make us better “players” in the game of life. And we take a hit of them every day.

Am I disillusioned by the findings of the Mitchell Report? Of course I am. But until I put down the cup of java I paid 4 bucks for just so I could make it through to lunch, or until I stop spearheading a movement to find a low-cost way to surgically implant my Bluetooth into my ear, who am I to talk?

If I’ve left out any of your favorite performance-enhancers, feel free to let me know.