The issue that our group is tackling is the use of illegal performance enhancing steroids in Major League Baseball. Major League Baseball is big business in the U. S. , with 30 franchises valued at over 8. 8 billion dollars. Player salaries range from the league minimum salary of three hundred twenty five thousand per year to ten million or more per year, and are based on the market value of each player when his current contract expires. It is in this hyper-competitive environment that a growing specter of foul play has erupted – the use of steroids.
Anabolic steroids and other similar performance enhancing substances allow muscles to recover at a much faster rate than normal. This rapid recovery permits athletes to train harder, for longer periods of time, and with greater frequency. This unnaturally intensified training leads to the development of greater muscle mass and strength, which has a causal effect on physical performance. Another effect of steroids is that game-to-game muscle recovery is more rapid, which allows the player to be more fully recovered on an every-day basis, which is a huge advantage in a season where 162 games are packed into 6 months.
Many issues surround the use of such performance enhancing substances. One issue is the removal of a level playing field. In a business where competition is the business, any such illegal advantage can injure the integrity and legitimacy of the enterprise. A second issue is the fact that steroids cause numerous harmful, long-term side effects – some of which can be life threatening. Another issue is the fact that many of America’s youth look up to these athletes. Like it or not, they are role models.
If these role models are doing things that are illegal, immoral, and have a demonstrated health risk, what kind of example are they setting for our youth? Behind closed doors, it has been understood that some players were engaged in this behavior. The owners have attempted to address it, albeit without any real veracity, during labor negotiations. These negotiations have yielded very little results though, as the players are represented by a very united and powerful union (the MLB Players Association).
The players association has historically fought any attempt at drug testing or screening, citing privacy concerns. It is this backdrop of issues that prompted the U. S. Congress to begin to investigate Major League Baseball’s internal controls and testing programs (or lack thereof). The action by the government was the final straw that caused this widely known, but little discussed problem to be brought to the light of public debate and discussion.
This issue has the potential for wide-ranging consequences throughout professional baseball. Senior Management (in this case – team owners) could be affected in a number of different ways. Among these are: 1) loss of fan base, 2) loss of credibility and stature as “America’s Pastime”, 3) loss of revenues from corporate sponsors, 4) potential labor problems, 5) government involvement could usher in new rules, restrictions, and policies that would be enforced legislatively (loss of control).
The market implications are severe, especially given the fact that Major League Baseball has already lost a portion of the American public’s entertainment dollars to a myriad of other interests (soccer, lacrosse, cable TV, video games, movies, etc). With a major scandal that could undermine the credibility of the game itself, team owners stand to lose television contracts, apparel licensing revenues, corporate sponsorships, and overall fan attendance is likely to decline – which will reduce revenues in every facet of this billion dollar operation, from parking fees to vendor sales.
The non-market implications are the impact that this behavior can have on society, specifically younger people. In an industry where success is paid handsomely, and is linked solely to performance, by not breaking the law, a player could be putting his family’s livelihood in jeopardy. The college player who wants to be drafted by a major league team sees that he may need to do this to get there. The high school athlete who is vying for a college scholarship could see these drugs as an alternative that could pay dividends.
The issue facing Major League Baseball, and in particular team owners is how to most effectively deal with policing illegal substance use within each team (organization), and within the greater arena of the League as a whole. This issue is multifaceted. Considerations must be made when dealing with the players, because of their collective agendas and their union representation. Also of great concern is the best way to deal with the government, and its newfound interest in the subject. Yet another important consideration needs to be given to the fans and corporations that ultimately fuel the league with their entertainment dollars.
Team owners must balance the interests and desires of these groups (and others) while arriving at an outcome that will provide longevity to America’s favorite pastime and their personal monetary investment. This issue would be considered to be in late stage two of its life cycle. It has evolved through phase one and early phase two (Changing Stakeholder Expectations and Political Action) as evidenced by the recent Congressional hearings. At this time, the government is actively involved, gathering information, and moving toward proposed legislation to confront the problems that they feel are within their purview to address.