Bionic Ballplayers: The Contractual Construction of Fitness in Major League Baseball, 1964- 2007
Sarah Rose, University of Texas at Arlington and Joshua Salzmann, University of Illinois at Chicago
Why have professional ballplayers come under fire for using steroids when other career-enhancing medical innovations, such as “Tommy John surgery,” have been celebrated? The contemporary debate over steroids is not only a matter of morality, but also one of political economy. Starting in the 1970s, changes in the business of baseball created incentives for ballplayers, owners, and doctors to exploit new medical technologies and fitness regimes to manage players’ bodies. The product of political economy, biology, and biotechnology, these “bionic ballplayers” were bigger, stronger and more fragile than their predecessors. While players’ labors filled teams’ coffers, they were condemned for harnessing new technologies to maximize their earnings.
Commentators: Josef Barton, Northwestern University and Joseph C. Bigott, Purdue University Calumet
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