Driving back from Las Vegas, we got to talking about athletes who take steroids and Eric, my son-in-law, suggested that athletes take steroids because they want people to like them. Even if an athlete has outstanding performance, they think they can do better with drugs, and they will perform even better so the fans, team owners, sponsors will like them better.
When I was competing, I had friends who justified taking performance enhancing drugs because “everyone is doing it”.
I was never the least bit tempted to use steroids. Maybe it would have helped me win, but that wouldn’t have been winning, it would have been cheating. If I had shot each of my opponents in the face with a bazooka, I would have been the one standing at the end of the match, too, but it would be hard to argue I won a judo tournament.
What I have concluded is this:
- Some people want to be the best in the world, they really believe they can do it and don’t care all that much whether anyone else knows how good they are or not. It’s BEING the best that is important to them. Those people don’t use steroids.
- Then there are people who want to be thought the best in the world but really don’t believe they can do it. Those people might use steroids because what matters to them isn’t actually being the best but having other people THINK they are.
So, basically, we are talking about the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
Eric suggested that people in the second category are more common than the first. That may be true, but I am certain that by far the most common are people in a third category.
- People who want to be best in the world if it doesn’t require too much effort.