Who'd have guessed that Barry Bonds was just the tip of such a large iceberg? A week ago things looked so different. But after the release of the report conducted by former Sen. George Mitchell, detailing widespread abuse of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs by some of the game's favorite players, the picture is now changed. Bonds – who claims he is innocent of knowingly using steroids – is now seen as just one, although possibly the most visible one, of many.
How titanic the damage is to Major League Baseball will largely depend on what happens next. Will baseball embrace Mr. Mitchell's recommendations for cleaning up the game? How will the players' union – which resisted meaningful drug testing in the past – now respond? What about Mitchell's related concern – that this is harmful not just to players taking drugs, but to kids across America admiring and imitating them? According to Mitchell, hundreds of thousands of teens take steroids. The health risks to adults are considered very real. The risks to teens are considered far greater.
One point the report emphasizes: It's not just players who bear the responsibility. Team owners, managers, conditioning coaches and more had a hand in creating this travesty. Perhaps that's why Mitchell is calling for no punishment of players who have erred in the past. It was easy to think, watching one of Mitchell's many TV interviews, that this no-punishment policy was an effort to seek healing. That, after all, is the need – healing to restore baseball to its once illustrious image, and to restore its influence on young people to one of wholesomeness. All this calls for widespread commitment from everyone who's a part of the game.
One plus in this quest for healing is, most MLB players appear to be clean. Despite the enormous pressures they face, it seems that most of them have opted not to involve themselves with the drugs.
As a sports fan who's far from the levers of power in MLB, I ponder my own contribution. I can talk to my kids – again – about the dangers of performance-enhancing drug use. I can be grateful they've listened to those talks in the past. But I can do more.
I recall a passage from the Bible. "He [God] performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him" (Job 23:14). I remind myself that at its best, outstanding performance on the playing field is really an expression of God, who is the one divine Mind and divine Life. He is the ultimate performer we each express.
Divine Life is the source of energy, endurance, agility, and ability. Divine Mind is the source of the wisdom and courage needed to make sound decisions. The more I realize that divine Life not only originates talent, but Life also shines it forth and magnifies it, the more I see that His likeness – each one of us – is also fully provided for. Then I'm more able to glimpse each player, each person, as divinely equipped, lacking no good thing. That's prayer. And I truly believe that prayer will affect what might be called the overall atmosphere of thought. In other words, every player will then inhabit a mental climate that's just a bit more open to God-based talent, and less embracing of drug-based performance. My contribution may be tiny, but it's not nonexistent.
I remember something from the book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy. "Mind, joyous in strength, dwells in the realm of Mind. Mind's infinite ideas run and disport themselves. In humility they climb the heights of holiness" (p. 514).
I want to see players at every level of sport – rank amateur to world-class pro – climbing the heights of excellence. I want to see them doing so drug-free. I want to remember that my prayers do make some difference, do make it a bit easier for everyone to remember, "He [God] performeth the thing that is appointed for me."