Article courtesy of Mark Newman | MLB.com
Nearly 13 years have passed since Taylor Hooton, a promising 17-year-old baseball prospect, took his own life as a result of anabolic steroid abuse.
Half of his high school teammates were using some form of performance-enhancing substance in 2003 to “get bigger,” and Hooton — then 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds — was urged by a coach to “get bigger” as well.
On Monday, the Taylor Hooton Foundation introduced the latest efforts in its tireless resolve to reach impressionable youths who, unfortunately, still want to “get bigger.” In an on-field ceremony before the Twins-Orioles game in Sarasota, Fla., the foundation launched its 2016 public-service campaign — “It’s All Me” — featuring advisory board members from all 30 Major League Baseball rosters.
To inaugurate the 2016 campaign, Taylor Hooton Foundation President Don Hooton presented a framed and matted print of J.J. Hardy‘s version of the PSA to the Baltimore shortstop before the game. Similar presentations will be made through March 20 by Don Hooton to other advisory board members at Grapefruit and Cactus League games.
“Steroids are just like any other drug, they can kill you,” Hardy said. “I’m just standing up for the youth. It’s a good cause. Nobody should do them, especially young kids.”
“We are so excited to have these world-class athletes step up to be role models for our young people,” Hooton said, “and we feel strongly that these public-service ads will send a powerful and valuable message. Education is, without question, the most effective weapon we have to fight the epidemic of appearance and performance-enhancing drug use by our young people and these players are showing kids that they’ve achieved success the right way.”
In addition to Hardy, American Leaguers on the advisory board include Elvis Andrus of the Rangers, Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, John Danks of the White Sox, Brian Dozier of the Twins, Logan Forsythe of the Rays, Charlie Furbush of the Mariners, Brett Gardner of the Yankees, Dillon Gee and Alex Gordon of the Royals, Ken Giles and Dallas Keuchel of the Astros, Jason Kipnis of the Indians, James McCann of the Tigers, Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox, Josh Reddick of the Athletics and C.J. Wilson of the Angels.
National League advisory board members include Jake Arrieta of the Cubs, Jay Bruce of the Reds, Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals, Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, Nick Markakis of the Braves, Mark Melancon of the Pirates, Joe Panik of the Giants, Anthony Rendon and Logan Schafer of the Nationals, Tyson Ross of the Padres, Christian Yelichof the Marlins and Brad Ziegler of the D-backs. The Brewers, Mets, Phillies and Rockies will announce representatives in the near future, as their THF reps at the end of last season changed teams.
For the campaign, a print ad for each of the foundation’s current advisory board members has been created, with images provided by THF national partner Getty Images, and will be made available to each player’s respective team program/magazine for publication during this season. In addition, “It’s All Me” PSAs will run in programs at MLB jewel events.
Advisory board members will also take part in educational activities in their local communities. Board members provide input on the most effective ways to educate North America’s youth about the dangers of anabolic steroids and other appearance and performance enhancing drugs.
The Taylor Hooton Foundation has spoken to and educated more than one million people. Education, rather than random testing, is clearly the primary solution, especially considering that the median age for first-time steroid users is 15. A startling 85 percent of high school athletes say they never have had a coach, parent or teacher talk to them about the dangers of such drugs.
Nearly one out of every five adults are unaware that high school anabolic steroid use is a problem; nearly two million middle school and high school kids admit to using steroids, for appearance and performance; and 36 percent of males 18-25 say they or someone they know has taken steroids or HGH.
The Taylor Hooton Foundation has a Latin American outreach and travels throughout the Caribbean, speaking to thousands of RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) athletes, coaches and parents in partnership with MLB. Additionally, the foundation introduced a new eLearning program in 2014 — narrated by Bob Costas — to Little League Baseball that is offered to its one-million adult coaches and other volunteers.