The widespread use of illegal steroids among Major League Baseball players has been fueled by an "economy of bodily management," the free agent market and exploding television revenues, a UT Arlington assistant professor argues in a newly published research paper.
Sarah Rose, a labor and disability historian, says by attacking individual ballplayers' morality, commentators have obscured the more salient issue.
"Baseball is representative of the fact that Americans increasingly live in an age of biotechnology in which bodily modification for profit has become the norm and, often, an unstated job requirement," said Rose, who joined the UT Arlington Department of History in 2009 and is director of the University's Minor in Disability Studies program.
Rose is the co-author of a new article "Bionic Ballplayers: Risk, Profit, and the Body as Commodity, 1964-2007" published in the journal LABOR: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas. Her co-author is Joshua A. T. Salzmann, assistant professor of history at Northeastern Illinois University.
The researchers found that while the league minimum salary remained at $6,000 between 1954 and 1967, players' average salaries soared to $16,000 in the mid-1960s. Teams paid these increasing salaries out of funds newly attained through television revenue. Between 1964 and 1979, revenues from television contracts rose from $21 million to $54 million.
During this time, players and owners investigated new ways to preserve and, eventually, enhance players' bodies.
The pair interviewed notable sports figures such as Nolan Ryan and Bob Costas and a wide array of baseball players, team physicians, trainers, general managers, agents and union officials with careers dating back to the mid-1960s. The article focuses on Sandy Koufax, Tommy John, Frank Jobe and Jos Canseco, who in his own book admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his playing career. In fact, his tell-all claimed that th
|Contact: Bridget Lewis|
University of Texas at Arlington