An MVP star quarterback. An intern named Sly. A Middle East-based news network whose name reminds people of a terrorist group. Whether that’s fair or not. And a damning accusation that is angrily denied.

This has got to be fiction, right? And the author should really have used a slightly more original name for that intern around whose videotaped confessions hinges the whole affair. Sly?? Come on!

Will there be a defamation suit filed? Perhaps. Will there be an investigation carried out by the league? We’ll see. It’s certainly not the first time in professional sports that performance-enhancing drugs have been used. Assuming that all that HGH was used by Peyton and not his wife, in whose name it allegedly was sent.

Aside from the particularity of the players involved in this slightly sci-fi farce, the real question is one of ethics. But not the obvious one. If an athelete would use HGH, then he or she is breaking the law. That’s clear.

The more interesting question is to ask whether these types of laws should be on the books.

In other words, is it cheating to use HGH? Beyond the fact that it is an illegal substance that puts a player at an advantage over other players who haven’t cheated. But if all players could use it? Who gets cheated in that case?

Where do you draw the line between the enormous amount of technology that goes into producing those five-to-ten-second bursts of astonishing athleticism that make up the nuts and bolts of professional football, and illegal enhancing technologies?

Because if we are true Olympian purists, do we need microphones and hearing devices in helmets? For example? Or legal substances that are ingested as part of pre-season training? Or small server farms with military-like security to host all that data that a good quarterback should just memorize?

Yes, messing with your hormonal make up seems to cross an ethical line. But will we find out someday that certain legal foods or natural substances produce similar – if not quite as dramatic – effects? Do we outlaw spinach? And lock up Popeye?

It might not have the same intensity as the stem cell research debate, where the vulnerability of human life in its most immediate and fragile state is at stake. But we seem to be headed that way with professional sports. Genetic design tailored to produce perfect sports babies? Australia has a national program that fits kids into sports at an early age, depending on things like hand size (you get to be a swimmer mate!).

How far away are we from adding genetic manipulation? Or is that already here? At a clinic in China for example.

It’s not just enhancing drugs that need to be debated. It’s what we the audience expect from our favorite life-saving superheros out there on the gridiron.

Comments