President Obama’s Comments on Alex Rodriguez Steroid Use

President Barrack Obama's first press conference

President Barrack Obama commented on anabolic steroids during his first presidential press conference in response to a question by Washington Post reporter Michael A. Fletcher. Fletcher surprisingly asked President Obama about Alex Rodriguez’ admission of anabolic steroid use during his Major League Baseball career, “What is your reaction to Alex Rodriguez’s admission that he used steroids as a member of the Texas Rangers?” (“Obama’s First News Conference Covers A Range Of Issues,” February 9)

“I think it’s depressing news on top of what’s been a flurry of depressing items when it comes to Major League Baseball. And if you’re a fan of Major League Baseball, I think it tarnishes an entire era to some degree. And it’s unfortunate, because I think there are a lot of ball players who played it straight.

“And the thing I’m probably most concerned about is the message that it sends to our kids. What I’m pleased about is Major League Baseball seems to finally be taking this seriously, to recognize how big of a problem this is for the sport, and that our kids, hopefully, are watching and saying ‘You know what? There are no short cuts.’ That when you try to take short cuts, you may end up tarnishing your entire career. And your integrity’s not worth it. That’s the message I hope is communicated.”

The Washington Post asked the only question that did not involve domestic or foreign policy and was widely criticized as being inappropriate given the importance of other issues discussed during the prime-time presidential press conference. President Obama has previously stated that the government spends too much time on the steroid issue and would have probably liked to have completely dismissed the question. Instead, Obama provided an obligatory condemnation of steroids in baseball.

Obama found the news of steroid use by Alex Rodriguez “depressing.” Steroids “tarnished” the sport. Obama concerned about the “message” steroid-using athletes send to “kid”. Steroid use apparently destroys “integrity”. Steroids represent unacceptable “shortcuts”.

President Barrack Obama is not the first U.S. President to discuss steroids in baseball. His predecessor, George W. Bush, made depressingly similar comments about steroids during the 2004 Presidential State of the Union Address making steroids a top priority of his administration.

“The use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids in baseball, football, and other sports is dangerous, and it sends the wrong message — that there are shortcuts to accomplishment, and that performance is more important than character. So tonight I call on team owners, union representatives, coaches, and players to take the lead, to send the right signal, to get tough, and to get rid of steroids now.”

Former President George W. Bush was also worried about the “message” conveyed by steroid use in baseball. Steroid use represents unacceptable “shortcut”. Steroid use reflects lack of “character”. Steroid use is “dangerous”.

Fortunately, President Obama recognizes that there are more important issues facing the country and identifying steroid users in sports does not represent the best use of government resources.

I gotta admit that seeing a lot of congressional hearings around steroid use is not probably the best use of congressional time [...]

It’s a serious problem, but it’s one that you want to see the leagues themselves handle in a more appropriate way. We’ve got nuclear weapons and a financial meltdown to worry about. We shouldn’t be worrying about steroids as much as I think sometimes we do.


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