An Interesting Theory on Steroids

David D. Friedman has an interesting theory about What's Wrong with Steroids:

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The third and most interesting answer is that competitive sports are special because what is being consumed is relative not absolute output. We reward a race car driver not for driving faster than 230 miles per hour but for driving faster than any other driver in the race. It is at least arguable that our pleasure from watching our favorite baseball team play depends not on how well it plays but on how much better it plays than the opposing team.

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My comment:

While I don't think there is any justification for *government* to take action when it comes to steroid use, it makes a lot of sense for the various sports organizations to prohibit it just because for most sports most people simply aren't interested in seeing competitions for who has the best drug regimen.

If somebody wanted to start a sport where people *did* compete based on drugs and other "artificial" means of pumping up one's body, I don't see any problem with that, and I think your argument about "nobody being better off" would not hold - one could argue there's entertainment value in grotesque bodies and absolute performance. But for the most part that's not what people want from baseball or cycling.

I think the main reason the government gets involved with steroid regulation in US baseball, for example, is because of the monopoly granted to MLB. MLB would rather face the regulation than lose their monopoly privileges.

Please post any comments over there.

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