Marist findings on fans' views on PED use come day after Braun suspended

Posted by Staff  July 23, 2013 12:53 PM

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After the Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun was suspended for the rest of the 2013 season, and with reports that there are other major MLB names that could be handed suspensions in the near future, it would appear that the “Steroid Era” in baseball has not come to an end.

Biogenesis, a former Miami-based anti-aging clinic, has been implicated in providing performance-enhancing drugs to several major league ballplayers, including Braun, Alex Rodriguez, Bartolo Colon, and Nelson Cruz, among others.

A recent Marist College survey of fans’ beliefs on PED use in baseball provided some insight on how the public is reacting to this issue. The survey was conducted prior to the announcement that Braun, the 2011 NL MVP, had been suspended for the remainder of the 2013 season.

“This study speaks to the power of sports hero worship in America,” said Dr. Keith Strudler, Director of the Marist College Center for Sports Communication. “We love our athletes dearly, even irrationally, and defend them often beyond a reasonable doubt. But when they betray us, we seem to punish them with equal vigor, keeping them out of the Hall of Fame. In some ways, sports hero worship and PEDs in this country is like a bad marriage.”

The survey was taken over three days from July 15 to July 18, surveying 1,204 adults age 18 and older by telephone, 574 of whom identified themselves as baseball fans. The margin of error for the survey 2.8 percentage points. That margin of error increases for those who identified themselves as baseball fans to 4.1 percentage points.

The results found that 61 percent of the fans surveyed said that it is not right for MLB to suspend players who have not tested positive for PEDs, but are connected to the Biogenesis clinic, and 28 percent believe it is right for MLB to suspend them, while 11 percent are unsure.

“Sports fans are very loyal to their favorite athletes, and for most, it would take true hard evidence to change their perceptions of these athletes,” Strudler said. “Circumstantial evidence, no matter how strong, probably isn't going to convince most fans.”

In the case of Braun, few people who classified themselves as baseball fans have been following the situation closely. Of the fans surveyed, 13 percent said that they have heard a great deal of information about the case, 11 percent said that they have heard a good amount, 26 percent said they have heard a little, and 50 percent said they have heard nothing.

Another issue that has come up in recent years is whether to allow players who have been implicated in PED scandals to be elected to the Hall of Fame. Seventy-eight percent of fans surveyed said they believed players who used PEDs should not be eligible for the Hall of Fame, while 18 percent think they should be allowed in, and four percent are unsure.

One statistic that Marist researchers found is that people in the younger generation are more forgiving than older ones. For fans aged 45 and younger, 24 percent think that steroid use should not keep players from the Hall of Fame, while only 13 percent of those aged older than 45 believe steroid users should be allowed in.

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