"Enticed by the prospect of riches, players and teams harnessed fitness training, reconstructive surgery, biomechanical analysis and performance-enhancing drugs to reduce wear and tear on players' bodies and, ultimately, radically alter them for profit," Rose and Salzmann concluded in the paper. "This interplay between economic incentives and medicine created what we call bionic ballplayers: bigger, stronger, and at times, more fragile than their predecessors."
The study suggests that the question raised by steroids is not individual morality, but rather the morality produced by a political economy of labor that calls for both services and body parts rendered.
Ironically, as Rose and Salzmann's article went to press, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig had just suspended 13 players for using steroids.
"Why has professional baseball players' steroid use been characterized as an immoral illegitimate bodily enhancement, when other medical interventions, such as 'Tommy John' elbow reconstruction surgery, have been celebrated as career-saving cures?" Rose questioned. "While admittedly different, we show that both bodily interventions arose out of the same dramatic shifts in the business of baseball shifts that drove the medicalization of the game and players' bodies."
The researchers contend that before the advent of salary arbitration and free agency, ballplayers were disposable parts in a high-risk work environment. But buoyed by exploding television revenues, the free agent market drove players' salaries into the millions, transforming the economics of bodily management.
Beth Wright, dean of the UT Arlington College of Liberal Arts, applauded Rose and the valuable impact that her research has on culture.
"Dr. Rose is making important contributions to the way we understand the history of disability and athletics and the pressure that the sports industry places on its talent," Wright
|Contact: Bridget Lewis|
University of Texas at Arlington