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This idea was actually explored in a mid-'90s Saturday Night Live sketch, in the specific sport of weightlifting. Phil Hartman, hopped up on 'roids, tore his arms off, you may recall.
Note from Scott: So, Missy was looking at the comments and said that more than one reader had mentioned an SNL sketch about unlimited steroid use in sports. I immediately saw in my head the image of Phil Hartman ripping his arms off. I don't know what to say except that I didn't think of that sketch while I was writing this comic, despite what Rick says in panel two, I know it's not really a particularly new idea, and that I miss Phil Hartman.
By power of Greyskull make this league happen
Is that last line intended in a tone of agreement, to mean "see, turns out I do understand professional sports" (ie. "that's the intent"), or a tone of disdain, to mean "looks like it's actually you that doesn't understand professional sports" (ie. "professional sports are already like that")? It works fine either way, I'm just curious!
Reminds me of this SNL sketch:http://www.hulu.com/watch/4090
Sports players shouldn't do drugs because kids look up to them.
Then again, kids are short and look up to everybody.
In panel 2, Rick is wrong: this is not a new idea. Saturday Night Live did a bit about the All-Drug Olympics back in 1988: http://www.hulu.com/watch/4090 (sorry, the link will only work in the USA)
Sums up NASCAR in a four panels. I really think they need to check out the Sprint Cup #48 team. There's something in their water.
The irony is that the performance enhancing use of steroids was discovered when doctors started using them because they caused faster healing of sports injuries.
Not a new idea:
I heard one of the commentators on ESPN radio promoting this same new, bad idea within the past few days. His line: with proper guidance, athletes could use PED's in a safe way, and cheaters would then have no advantage.
I like this idea! I don't know why we got on Lance Armstrong's case for using drugs while cycling. I did that once, and I hit a dog and fell into the canal.
My thoughts exactly, Scott.
In a regulated "enhanced league" industry would spend huge sums on safe, useful drugs which would have ripple effects as people discovered they were also useful for treating medical conditions.
We need the massive investment that commercial sports can bring. We can't let ourselves be blinded by blanket statements like "Drugs are bad" when there are hundreds of millions of people who depend on drugs - the medicinal kind - to live and live well.
If even one drug makes the jump from enhancing athlete performance to helping the infirm or dying, we've successfully improved humanity. We owe it to those people to give it a shot.
Eddie Izzards new tour has something like this, he does a bit on what the tour de france would be like if they where allowed to take lots of drugs.
That is perhaps the one idea that would make sports worth watching.
I think people often overlook the side effects to steroid abuse that hurt people other than the user, such as roid rage.
Organized athletics are already a scourge on society, encouraging the public to engage in tribalism, to think in terms of continuous warfare, and to prizeviolence over intelligence. The ridiculously vast sums of money involved inspire the poorest of our youth to pursue athletics at the expense of education, and to allow those who do so to get away with anything as long as they score.
It's hard to imagine a way to make athletics worse, and I'm not sure that Scott has done it.
"I think people often overlook the side effects to steroid abuse that hurt people other than the user, such as roid rage"
That's right. They'd make trillions!
You don't have to come up with a new idea for every strip, you just have to say it better than anyone else and that's what you've always done. Keep up the good work. :)
@Gavin: You mean, like, the Tour is now? I'm sure the bit is funny and has a slightly different premise, but cycling has been tarnished by its athletes doing crazy stuff to get ahead since (I believe) roughly the 60's. The Tour de France has had more than one death from amphetamine overdose combined with overexertion. These days, the drugs are designer and other techniques are used as well (blood doping, etc.), but it's still the same. Bunch of jacked-up guys sacrificing their bodies for a small chance at glory, which lines up very well with the comic.
I'm not sure that those tasked with overseeing/preventing such matters are terribly invested in doing so. Furthermore, the culture among cyclists, just as in baseball a few years back, is "Everyone else is doing it, what the hell, why not?".
Frankie Boyle also talked about how he'd like to see more drugs in sports. He's hilarious.
Wonder what our accomplishments would be like if schools encouraged academics the way they encourage sports, and the media gave as much attention to the money the top nerds make as they now give to the money the top athletes make...We'd totally lead the world in invention, science, and all non-violent accomplishment...The way we used to...
Just to cover all the bases (no pun intended). Here's comedian John Witherspoon's take on athletes and steroids! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTy_gLF8zR0
There are places that value intellect as a spectator sport: think the Russians and chess. The Koreans throw aside the Zen and beauty of GO and make it a televised head-to-head competition. And I assume it is true for cricket too because every match is a test.
A wonderful take on the idea.
Far older than the SNL skit links.
Achilles Choice - by Larry Niven has two sets of olympic style games running next to each other. One enhanced and one pure.
(link included that uses Scott's affiliate link to the book)
Has anybody mentioned yet that this was a Saturday Night Live skit?
Welcome back to our coverage of the Altered Olympics 2153, brought to you by Glaxopfizerbeyjohn - Whatever your problem, there's a drug for that! The judges have just reviewed the extra-high-speed footage of the 100m Sprint for Users of Trioxyhypernitrohexelane-4 and we will be seeing the medal ceremony shortly. Coming up, we have a few events for the traditionalists: Weight-lifting on Steroids and Road Cycling on EPO, bless their old-fashioned GMO-cotton socks! Remember, folks, those events are shown in real time, so they will seem a lot longer than you're used to!! Later on today we also have Genetically-engineered Gymnastics, Psychotropic Synchronised Swimming and this year's new event: Steeplechase on Six-legged Horses, what an exciting spectacle that will be!
The trouble with this idea is that athletes use these drugs because they're not as good as their opponents without the drugs. If all their opponents were using them, too, that just means they wouldn't be as good as their opponents with the drugs.
So having a drug-legal league would not remove the incentive for sub-par athletes to play in the drug-free league but try to sneak in the advantage of the drugs.
As noted this idea has been around since the second day enhancement drugs started being use. You are all overlooking the really important question:Would Batman juice?
I think that British comedians Eddie Izzard and Andy Parsons also have separately spoken favourably about the idea of an enhanced athlete freak show - runners with the legs of a leopard, and so forth.
But meanwhile, most sporting contests have separate events for women, presumably because otherwise they'd never win - or maybe in some cases never lose; some of the gymnastics things? And I think wife-carrying had better have a separate civil-partnerships section, too, but it isn't for me to say; I won't object to a mixed competition. It isn't a sport that I favour in the first place.
Batman briefly used a super-strength drug called "Venom". Later, he had an enemy called Bane who used it.
It's also reported that Jesus used some of his own blood right before an important event - which he won - and passed it out to his team-mates as well. I don't vouch for this version of events.
I do not care about the potential harm to the athletes, I just wanna see what the human body is capable of!!! Can a man lift a mid-sized sedan over his head? How fast can someone run if given every advantage?
If a heap of consenting adults want to spend huge amounts of their own money on drugs to show us the answers to these questions at the "Anabolic Olympics" I say we let them.
To be serious: what is sport for? Both amateur and professional? I'm writing from Britain where the government recently went all East European by boosting subsidies for sports where British athletes won Olympic medals and cutting ones where they didn't win, which implies that the purpose of sport is to demonstrate the excellence of the British political system. And of course sport provides people without great practical or intellectual abilities to find a role in society, and provides entertainment, in so many ways, for the rest of us watching them. But the practical use of sport, as I see it, is to motivate more of us to take a bit of exercise and improve our general health.
This being so, some sports drugs may be a good idea - statins - and others less so - strychnine. I think strychnine is out of fashion anyway in sports, probably because they made testing for it a big priority, don't you think? I'm not making this up, you know. Mind you, I don't know if statins do anything for you in sport, except make it less likely that you'll die.
I cycle, so what I do or don't dose myself with may be not what determines that.
I'm certain I've either seen a sketch or heard a cartoon about this earlier... may have been Izzard, who knows. The suggestion was pharmaceutical companies would sponsor the teams (and, presumably, provide the drugs), so you'd have teams like Pfizer All-Stars versus DuPont Steroidchompers.
And just like Formula One, the interest would be as much in the drug design as in the players.
Many have mentioned the SNL sketch and the comedy stylings of Eddie Izzard, but if I'm not mistaken, I believe Daniel Tosh has also made a similar joke in one of his Comedy Central specials.As always, Scott, you're hilarious!
Actually, the Eddie Izzard bit (that I know of) is him proposing perfomance-DEHABILITATING drugs being allowed.
In his own words:Smoke a joint and win the 100 meters and fair play to you.
The clip is on YouTube, just look for eddie izzard stoned olympics.