There are nopolitics in steroids. Performance enhancing drugs destroy the bodies ofathletes and undermine the integrity of the sports they play--and so oftenheartbreakingly, claim to love. An even darker side of this shadowy landscapeis that such drugs are not a problem only in professional sports. According toa 2003 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out ofevery 16 high school students has admitted using steroids, up from one in every45 in 1993. This is why two related programs that are effectively taking onthis trend are the winners of Sports Illustrated's first annual Champion Award,given to nonprofit organizations that work for the betterment of sports.
ATLAS (AthletesTraining and Learning to Avoid Steroids) was developed in 1993 and ATHENA(Athletes Targeting Healthy Exercise and Nutrition Alternatives) was created in1997 by Drs. Linn Goldberg and Diane Elliot of the Oregon Health and ScienceUniversity and are aimed at, respectively, male and female high schoolathletes. Using peer-group discussions at practices and other team settings,ATLAS and ATHENA programs educate high school athletes about the dangers ofperformance-enhancing and recreational drugs, including alcohol. The programshave been used at more than 60 high schools across the country and have beennamed model programs by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services andbeen hailed by Congress in the 2004 Anabolic Steroid Control Act.
As recipients ofthe Champion Award, ATLAS and ATHENA will receive $1 million in cash and publicservice announcements in the magazine (that will reach 3.2 million weeklyreaders with their message). In partnership with ATLAS and ATHENA, SI will alsocreate an SI Schools website, which will focus on state-of-the-art nutrition,exercise training and drug prevention for athletic directors, coaches, parentsand young athletes.
This spring SportsIllustrated and The Center for Health Promotion Research at OHSU will hold fourregional workshops for high school coaches and teachers focusing on the issueof steroids and other drugs in sports. Selected schools from those regions willreceive grants allowing them to implement ATLAS and ATHENA programs during the2006-07 school year. If you are interested in having a workshop in your area,e-mail Goldberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sportswriter of the Year
Steve Rushin notices things, such as the makeup of theBoston College--Boston U hockey rivalry: "Their players range from theIrish to the Catholic to the Irish-Catholic," he wrote. With an eye and earlike that, it's no surprise that the SI senior writer was named NationalSportswriter of the Year by the National Sportswriters and SportscastersAssociation. The 39-year-old Rushin, a native of Bloomington, Minn., who hasworked at SI since 1988 and written his AIR AND SPACE column since '98, is justthe 11th scribe to be named Sportswriter of the Year since the award'sinception in '59. SI writers have won 18 times--more than those at any othernewspaper or magazine. Rushin works out of his home in Connecticut, where helives with his wife, the sportscaster Rebecca Lobo, and their daughter.