A quote on the South Carolina High School League's Web site says, "An athlete is not crowned unless he competes by the rules."
As a governing principle in the state's sports, this idea serves as a reminder to what athletes have to do to keep the integrity of the games they play.
Be that honoring a fair kick in football or not using a full nelson in wrestling, athletes have to stick to the guidelines. Playing by the rules also means not receiving an unfair advantage by using steroids.
Because the pressure to be the best is increasing, steroids, instead of hard work and practice, are becoming the go-to thing for athletes to gain an edge over their opponents. Though banned in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, The International Olympic Committee, and The National Football League, many people use them illegally.
With everyone from Olympic cyclists to track stars to professional baseball players caught up in steroid scandals, even young athletes have to be warned and watched.
It's one more thing to keep track of, said Derrick Quinn, the defensive coordinator for North Augusta High School's varsity football team.
"It is the coach's responsibility to look out for signs such as aggressiveness and rapid muscle growth in his players," he said.
Those two signs of steroid abuse aren't the only ills that steroids can present. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, headaches, vomiting, nausea, sleep problems, bowel and urinary problems, blood clots, strokes, heart disease and high blood pressure are all potential side effects of steroid use.
Not only can steroid use be physically dangerous but it's also not tolerated in the game, Mr. Quinn said.
The South Carolina league outlines that pupils who violate the no-steroid policy will not be allowed to compete in their event and will have their future eligibility reviewed.
It's easy to understand why. By using steroids you eliminate fair competition.
As an athlete, I know you must work hard to achieve your goals. For all of us who compete fairly, we can say that we reached our goal without the help of steroids. All I ask is that the next time you attend a sporting event, whether it is professional or high school, look for signs of steroid use. You and I both know that it is not right for someone to win by cheating.
Hannah Burleson, 15, is a freshman at North Augusta High School.
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