One of the most bizarre features related to substance misuse available on Netflix is The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience. Former Major League Baseball home run hitters Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco are portrayed by comedian/performance artists Akiva Schaffer and Andy Samberg, respectively. The main ideas of this comedy/musical are that McGwire and Canseco used steroids and performance-enhancing drugs to become more muscular baseball sluggers (almost certainly true) and composed a confessional rap album (not at all true).
Yes, the Netflix special is a comedy: however, the underlying truth is that steroids and Human Growth Hormones have caused great harm to athletes over the course of the last thirty years. Quick history lesson: Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco exploded onto the sports scene of the late 80s and made baseball big with massive home runs punctuated by their patented “Bash” celebration at home plate. McGwire obliterated the rookie record for home runs in a season and Canseco set a record by becoming first to ever hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a season. They were gigantic human beings, pulverizing the baseball and amazing fans throughout the Bay Area and beyond.
Fast forward to 2019: The Bash Brothers are not remembered for being great baseball players. They’re remembered as athletes who pumped up with steroids: McGwire and Canseco each retired as top 50 home run hitters of ALL TIME but neither has been invited to the Hall of Fame. Neither man will ever enter the Baseball Hall of Fame for one simple reason: they used steroids. Both Canseco and McGwire have publicly admitted to using steroids.
How has steroid use changed over the years? Despite knowing that steroid use leads to physical and psychological health deterioration AND people dismissing your achievements, young athletes are still shooting up. Why? A recent Monitoring the Future study, a NIDA-funded survey of drug use and attitudes in middle and high school students across the United States uncovered some of the continuing reasons: “Males who are more likely to use steroids tend to have poor self-esteem, higher rates of depression, more suicide attempts, poor knowledge and attitudes about health, greater participation in sports emphasizing weight and shape, greater parental concern about weight, and higher rates of eating disorders and substance use.”
True enough, if people want to be bigger, stronger and faster, steroids, HGH and whatever future performance-enhancing drugs become available, will be utilized by athletes looking for an edge. Before young athletes roll the dice on such drugs, consider Jose Canseco: “My body forgot how to make testosterone,” Canseco said, according to the Daily News. ” … Steroids and the use of steroids destroyed my life completely. Maybe [steroid use] will change some things chemically in me. I don’t know what’s going to happen.” Destroyed his life. Canseco has guts, though: he recently commended Akiva Schaffer and Andy Samberg’s work on The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience, he even performed with the duo at North America’s biggest outdoor music festival in Milwaukee’s Summerfest.
Steroids aren’t as prevalent now as they were back in 1988, but prevention work still needs to be done: “Past-year steroid use among 12th graders increased from 2011 to 2015, although use significantly declined from 2015 to 2016. The 2017 rate of use among 12th graders holds relatively steady.” Holding steady is never a good thing when it comes to people misusing substances: hopefully, the tragic stories of athletes such as Canseco and McGwire, who may be remembered for this instead of this, will help deter youth from turning to steroids.
Laughter is good medicine. Check out The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience. Enjoy the hilarious songs and visual gags but listen closely for two things: sadness and truth. They are both there because the story of two humans taking harmful substances to improve their chances of success took both men down the road to a dead end. Eventually, it all comes down to our own personal power. Let’s hope athletes of the future work to build strength naturally…it will improve their chances of having a story to enjoy instead of story that makes us laugh and cry.
NIDA. (2018, February 21). Steroids and Other Appearance and Performance Enhancing Drugs (APEDs). Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/steroids-other-appearance-performance-enhancing-drugs-apeds on 2019, July 2