Internet and Twitter: The Death of Print Journalism?

Twitter is not a new topic. People all around the global use twitter as a way to communicate. Twitter had an estimated 72 million active accounts in the year of 2013. Today it has 310 million monthly active users and 1 billion who use it to have “unique visits monthly to sites with embedded Tweets”, and a mindblowing 79% of the accounts are used outside the U.S; so you can see how big this franchise is today. Twitter supports 40+ languages on its site, so you can probably tell why this site is so popular – it’s accessible to most of the world in their most comfortable tongues such as English, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Japanese, German and many more.

Should all journalists be on Twitter? Please do keep in mind that this question is not prompting anyone to stop using their own platforms in which they show the world their writing. This question could be taken into a larger perspective and could be asked this way: Should journalists move their work to the internet? I personally do not think it is good to abandon the idea of writing on paper, but the internet is becoming the source of news from most people. Internet usage has reached 3.3 billion users; around 40% of the world population has internet connection, as of today. This number is steadily rising. According to interentlivestats.com, “the first billion was reached in 2005, the second billion in 2010, the third billion in 2014.”

Somebody could say that Twitter could be the ruin of journalism. But, is this based in reality? There are newspapers like the Economist that post links to their articles and one could easily click a link and be transported to their website with a full length article to read the whole thing if one is interested. There are also other profiles on twitter that are Breaking News profiles and are used to tell news quick and short, which are great if you like straight forward, to-the-point reads. What I normally find myself doing is reading the breaking news articles and if I’m interested in the topic addressed, I go on Google and look at multiple articles that address that issue.

I took a survey and asked 6 millennials where they prefer to get their news from: the internet or the old fashioned papers? The results were surprising to me since both sides got 3 votes.  Maybe newspapers still have hope in the internet generation. I personally do think that the offline newspaper is, as sad as it may be, slowly dying, in the age of the internet which is growing at a surprisingly fast pace.

But what about those who live in countries or districts that don’t have reliable internet access, and rely solely on news delivered by paper? There are still the 4 billion apart from the 3 billion who still don’t have the internet at their disposal. What will become of them if news goes paperless?

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Game of Thrones: Why Watch?

April 24, 2016 marked an important day for millions of people around the world. After Jon Snow’s death, the anticipated Season 6 of Game of Thrones was on everyone’s mind. On the 24th of April, Episode 1 aired, and it did not disappoint. Meera Shah, having watched up to Episode 3 of the current season, said, “Season 6 of [GOT] is like going to an expensive restaurant without money and freaking out the whole time you are there, but when the bill comes, you find out someone else paid it for you. I don’t think I have ever felt these many emotions at one moment.” With people constantly being captured, tortured, and killed, many Game of Thrones fans would agree with Shah’s statement. The audience can try to guess what will happen next, but will ultimately fail to guess right.

Watching an episode per week doesn’t seem like much when it comes to Game of Thrones. The intensity of the show might give my stomach ulcers to last for the next few years. It always leaves me guessing and sitting at the edge of my seat, ready to throw my phone at any given moment. So far, having watched four episodes of Season 6, I can say that it is proving to be an intense season. Maybe this is because I have to get used to waiting a week for the next episode, but nonetheless it is intense. I deliberately left out any details concerning the 6th Season for those of you who are not caught up as of yet, but look out -all the other seasons are fair game for the blogging world.

Season 6 is finally at the point when the show has caught up with the books, and therefore people cannot make speculations. The audience is completely relying on the producers to continue making excellent television. Fortunately, George R.R. Martin is involved in the production of this series, meaning that his view is still being fulfilled. Many books that are made into TV shows and movies do not manage to maintain a great reputation. Often people say that the book is better than the movie or TV series, but in this case I think that the show is carrying its own weight. With an estimated amount of six million dollars going into each episode, HBO, the crew, directors and producers are putting in an incredible amount of time and money into the making of a fantastical show, episode by episode. With the help of George R.R. Martin, chances are good that the show will remain a success until the end.

If you do not watch GOT and are looking for a new show to get into, there is no better choice. You will be entranced by the medieval fantasy life that you have always wanted; granted, your entrails might end up tied in knots, but this is a small price to pay to witness this piece of entertainment history. 

Come Together

It’s that time of the year again, when millions of Europeans come together to celebrate music through the Eurovision Song Contest. It’s a competition filled with nationalism, political controversy, interesting fashion choices and of course, tons of heartfelt ballads and interesting euro-pop performances that probably would sound quite bizarre in a different setting. And there has certainly been a few outrageous numbers in the competition that would have you exclaim ‘Only in Eurovision’, including old Russian ladies singing “Party for Everybody” while baking bread as a part of the choreography, a Romanian countertenor in black diamond embellished clothing. Oh, and Ireland´s Singing Turkey back in 2008.

However, Eurovision does not only contain crazy outfits and catchy songs. Politics often make their way into the arena. In the last few years, loud boos have echoed against the walls after Russia’s performances due to the outrage over the anti-HBTQ politics of the country, as well as the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Interestingly, these negative noises have been censored in previous years, but Sweden – this year’s host country – has decided to not censor the show at all. Sergey Lazarev, this year’s Russian competitor, is one of the favorites and says that Eurovision wants to keep politics out of the show and should do just that by censoring the boos. He says that a prospering gay community does exist in Russia and that a Russian victory this year would support it further.

The motivation behind the start of this loved and cherished contest was to unite Cold War Europe. Today, the competition is a friendly one between countries that once were at bloody war with each other. Sometimes things can seem a bit too friendly, when countries put their highest vote on their neighboring country in order to improve the bonds between their respective countries. This leads many to question the fairness of the competition. And in last year’s dramatically close battle between Russia and Sweden for first place, politics might have played a large part. Even though Russia’s competitor expressed her open mind and support of human rights and love, she was faced with deep criticism because of the negative attitude against the country in which she was born. If Russia wins this year, will that victory come without controversy? Probably not.

The turbulence and conflicts that are realities in our world today conflict with other areas – like music – and it seems to be hard to look beyond politics when judging an artist in a competition like the Eurovision Song Contest. As a politically interested person, I know that it can be hard to ignore the political views that certain nation’s governments represent, even when it´s about music. But I think that we all have to remind ourselves that a person can represent only him or herself – not necessarily always a country as a whole. At the end of the day, we shouldn’t have to worry about whether our actions and words are in complete agreement with the policies of our own countries in every aspect of life. We are all from this same world.

The theme of this year’s Eurovision is “Come Together”, and so perhaps we should do just that; we should forget the conflicts for once, and unite with the help of music and creativity.

Addicted to Pain

You know how it is. You go out. Have fun. Maybe get drunk. Black out. Wake up with a giant Pokémon tattoo on your back. Been there? Yes? No? Oh.

A tattoo is a form of body modification done with ink on skin. Tattooing has been practiced throughout the world for many centuries. Since the 1970s, tattoos have become a mainstream part of Western fashion. Even the Guinness World Records has an award for the world’s most tattooed person- currently held by Lucky Diamond Rich, from New Zealand.

The tattoo has undergone dramatic redefinition and has shifted from a form of deviance to an acceptable form of expression. The word “addiction” is tossed around a lot when it comes to tattoos. Some say that the drive to acquire body art is addictive, while others say it is simply a passion. When it comes to tattoos, there are several psychological, physiological and social elements which could contribute to an addiction. Adrenaline, self-expression, cosmetics, pain substitution, self-mutilation, attention, social interaction, rebellion, culture and therapy are attributes of tattooing that may be addicting.

Throughout its colorful history, many incredible designs have been unleashed in the tattoo world. It’s safe to say that the artists of today continue to defy expectations of what a tattoo artist can do with human skin. Years ago, many would have assumed that tattoo styles such as realism would not translate well on the human body, yet Nikko Hurtado, Bang Bang, and more, have defied the odds.

We’ve already seen watercolor, glitter and all-black eye tattoos, but now there’s a new trend in ink: Blacked-Out-Bodies. Singapore tattoo artist Chester Lee is going viral with his photos of the technique. “I had been suggesting the Blackout tattoos for massive cover-ups (an alternative to laser removal), and letting people see the beauty in black work,” Lee, 29, told PEOPLE. Some are even using the technique to create solid black canvases for “negative” tattoos that then use white ink to make whole new beguiling patterns.

The sickening trend known as sacrificial branding has become popular among body modification fans. Multiple tattoo parlors and piercing studios are offering people the chance to go under the knife rather than have traditional ink markings. Luke Tauras, 27, took his love for body modification one step further when he had an artist use a scalpel to etch an anatomical heart on his chest (which took an hour to complete) at the Australian Tattoo Expo on March 13 2016. What do you think about this gruesome bloody trend – yes please or no thanks?

On her blog entitled “Needles and Sins”, blogger Marisa Kakoulas mentions tattoo sources, trends, and recently lots of Prince tattoo tributes. She writes, “For many people who just want a tattoo, source material for a design is a tiny printout of a picture of the latest trend from Instagram or Pinterest…’Look how many Likes that tattoo has. I want lots of Likes! I’m going to get that tattoo.’ And there’s always some shop out there willing to oblige. There’s nothing wrong with looking to social media for ideas, but there is much more artistic inspiration beyond our cell phones. It can be found in tapestries, museums, and ancient texts.”

The thing with trends is that they are often short-lived, but tattoos are permanent. Now maybe you wouldn’t want to end up with a meaningless painful marking – like a carved scar – that was once trendy. Or maybe you would.

There is no doubt that the tattoo artists of 2016 will continue to reshape our ideas of what a tattoo can and cannot be. Will tattoos continue to gain popularity? What new trends will come? Are we addicted to this painful artform?

A Kenyan Coachella? Yes Please!

For two weekends every April, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival takes over the small desert town of Indio, California. The word ‘festival’ may conjure up images of sodden fields and mud-splattered boots, but over at Coachella, it’s a classier affair. The two three-day weekends of the festival (this year it spanned April 15-24) consist of flower crowns, daisy dukes, non-stop music, fashion and fun.

For those who missed it this year – because they were busy with school, work, or live on the opposite side of the world – the highlights included: Guns N’ Roses performing with AC/DC’s Angus Young; Halsey hosting a mini Panic! At the Disco show; Lorde and Sam Smith singing with Disclosure; and “Sia’s concert performance of a generation.” Not to mention the surprise appearances by Kanye West, Rihanna, Kesha and even Bernie Sanders.

Off-stage, the fashion and revelry are as much a part of the festival as the sounds. Most celebrities and supermodels attend Coachella, so the chances of meeting your favorite famous people are pretty high. Gabriella Opagi, a student in Kenya and a fan of the festival said, “I love the idea of the celebrities mingling with non-famous people without it being a big deal, it’s like an unspoken word to not freak out-as everyone is trying to have a good time. It would be cool to have that in other places”.

So far, it all seems pretty glamorous, right? But how much does it cost? For the 2016 festival, general admission tickets were $399, or $459 with a shuttle pass included. VIP admission is $899, and VIP parking is $150. But scoring tickets to the festival is only the beginning of the challenges that await potential Coachellers. Essentials like travel to the festival, lodging, and dining during the weekend usually command the larger part of a festival-goer’s budget. “By the time you get into the show, you’re broke,” says Ross Gerber, CEO of LA-based financial firm Gerber Kawasaki and a long-time festival attendee.

When we think Music Festival, we might imagine non-stop music and partying with thousands of strangers crowded together, like at Coachella, Tomorrowland or Lollapalooza. We also might think of the “West” (i.e. America or Europe). We do not often connect music festivals to Asia, Africa or even Australia, unless they are focused on traditional or cultural music. But, there are non-cultural music festivals that take place in countries like Kenya, for example, they are just not as popular and publicized.

“Sunglasses At Night” is the brainchild of 6:AM Entertainment Kenya Ltd. It’s the one party of the year where the venue is washed in some of the most sophisticated lighting ever seen on the Kenyan scene. The bright lights make the sunglasses necessary for the ravers as they enjoy the colorful effects of the professional light installation. Other music festivals in Kenya include –Beach Life, Kikoy Culture and Earth Dance. All cost around 1,500/- 3,500/, which is about 15-35 USD. Relatively cheap, right? However, there is a slight problem. To be able to attend, you have to be over 18 or 21. This is a problem, as teenagers want to go, and as they can’t, they get fake IDs and get in illegally. It is actually sad that kids have to go to such lengths to have a fun night out, as there aren’t any “teen-friendly” non-cultural music festivals for them to attend.

What would it be like to have a “Coachella” in Kenya? Opagi, on the benefits of a music festival becoming a reality in Kenya said, “If you would Africanize Coachella, because not many Africans listen to all-American music per se, people would go and have fun, and learn more about American music. It would also be a great opportunity to showcase Kenyan talent for all ages”.

Promoters out there: are you listening?

A Head of Half-Dreads

What do you do to feel empowered?

To some people, empowerment can take the form of metaphysical expression. As aspects of distinct cultures uncoil and fade away in the modern world, individuals still ascribe to physical expressions of culture. Ideally, these echo the spirituality of the cultures they descend from, but, more often than not, they simply become a “hipster” trend.

If you’re like Amanda Daggett, you may feel empowered by wearing your hair in dreadlocks. She views her mane of blonde dreads as a “unique journey” that is different from those of others who decide to also experiment with hair traditional to mystics, warriors, and sailors in many cultures. Amanda Daggett states that her dreads are not a cultural statement, but rather a method of self – empowerment.

On the other hand, Tessah Schoenrock, a blogger on Thought Catalog, describes Caucasian dreads as “frizzy pieces of dog ****” that present a cultural offense. While caustic, her article stems from a topic that needs more awareness in the West: cultural appropriation.

Cultural appropriation occurs when elements of minority culture are adopted by a dominant, oppressive culture for materialistic reasons. The societal, and, in some cases, spiritual roots of these elements are ignored or manipulated in order to make one appear more “interesting.” As members of a dominant society, it seems as if young Caucasians want to disassociate with oppression. We hardly have any cultural or physical identity that lies beyond the favored territory of the West. We want to be more “ethnic,” and this desire navigates to the broken record of Western materialism. In a context of racial discrimination, “white” dreadlocks sometimes are tokens to buy societal ground under capitalistic regulations.

I’ve thought a lot about committing to dreads for a cultural statement. What if I decide to bear dreadlocks in order to diminish my own white privilege? By choosing to promote a non – Caucasian trend, won’t I revolutionize society? And, because so many white men and women already sport dreadlocks, won’t my dreadlocks reflect both “ethnic” culture and mainstream culture?

The hard truth is that I am still classified in the Caucasian range. No matter if I mold my embryonic dreadlocks into a head of glorious Medusa snakes or how many times I am told I could pass as “Romani,” I still breathe the tacit privileges of a white woman. That is where the boundary of cultural appropriation lies.

Sanjana Sharma and Stephanie Mithika recognize cultural appropriation as a valid issue. Mithika says that cultural appropriation stems from “deeply rooted stereotypes that bleed into everything” while simultaneously questioning as to “who has the right to cultural artifacts?” Similarly, Sharma questions that, while “we listen to ‘black’ music,  what makes it ‘black?’ Isn’t [imitation] a mark of respect?”

I don’t think it’s wrong for people to empower themselves for the right reasons. Forms of physical expression, removed from cultural shackles, echo the spiritual pursuits of the ancient. When they succeed in doing so, are they transcendent of the laws of cultural appropriation? Does cultural appropriation crystallize the fluidity of culture?

And, the fundamental question: is it always appropriate to culturally appropriate?

Gambling in Kenya: Are the Chinese to Blame?

One afternoon as my family was driving towards the Westlands roundabout in cosmopolitan Nairobi, we stopped by the Shell petrol station for gas. I looked out from the car window at an advertisement board right beside the station. Its florid designs emphatically communicated the opening of a casino, promising a great fun experience, and a chance to win what we all need more of: money. As I looked closer at the advertisement, I noticed a line written in Mandarin at the bottom of the billboard, and it stated – “this will be the luckiest place for you.” At first I was amazed that my language had been written on an ad in Kenya, a country where many languages are common, but Mandarin is very rare. Why advertise in Chinese? I was unsettled by the statement that this advertisement was making: the Chinese people are perpetuating the increase of the gambling industry in Kenya.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), a professional service network working in Kenya, there are thirteen licensed Casinos currently operating within Kenya . These casinos are usually situated in hotels such as the Intercontinental Hotel or The Safari Park Hotel, popular Chinese rendezvous points. Many of these Chinese citizens are here in Kenya because they are construction managers or workers, and the view these casinos as perfect places to have some fun and relieve the stress of daily work. Mr. Zhang, a Chinese Construction manager working in Nairobi, says, “Looking around the casinos, all you see is Chinese and all you hear is Mandarin.” Many of these Chinese workers enjoy the sensation of sudden monetary loss or gain, and fail to the see the detrimental effect that casinos and gambling can bring to their lives.

Mr. Shen, a Chinese business man in Kenya, says that “Gambling in Casinos is just like playing games.” To most Chinese who are working in Kenya, gambling is not an affront to any of their moral standards. They enjoy the thrill of winning and losing, just like many people around the world enjoy board games. But to many others, gambling can be classified as a heinous act. Sarah, a student at a local Nairobi school, states “My Christian background is what determines my view of what’s right and what’s wrong.” Often, our beliefs and our cultures determine what we believe as right or wrong. If the Chinese men and women in Kenya believe gambling isn’t wrong, what’s the ptoblem?

Is culture the only thing that is provoking the Chinese to gamble in Kenya? Kenya, as a country, tolerates gambling. Along with Nigeria and South Africa, Kenya is one of the countries in Africa where gambling is allowed by law. The PWC projects that the revenue generated by the gambling industry in Kenya will reach 29 million dollars (USD) by 2019. This can be seen as a boon for business. Is it cause for concern? Some would say that this money is filtering through the economy through the weakness of  human nature. The government, by allowing gambling, is manipulating human nature to generate more money for its own use. It is using the people that it is governing. A government should make rules that restrict the people from making poor choices, and should never make money as a result of the poor choices that people make.

The Chinese, due to a surrounding culture and their own value systems, take the bane of gambling lightly. But the Kenya government takes advantage of this to further boost the gambling industry in this poverty–stricken country. It uses the weakness of others to increase its own revenue. This needs to change.

Bill Yang (photograph and article)

Dressed to Impress? or Transgress

We see it all the time. At music festivals, in fashion shows and magazines, in music videos and out on the streets. People wear jewelry, clothes and symbols that belong to another culture, one that they do not belong to. We don’t even flinch. We didn’t react to Lana Del Rey wearing a Native American headdress in one of her music videos. We probably just thought “Oh, that´s pretty” and kept on watching.

I own Kanga-skirts (Kangas are traditional garments from the Great Lakes region in Africa), dream-catcher earrings (that I love), and a blouse with an embroidered ‘Om` symbol – which belongs to Hinduism. I have never thought of the cultural significance and ancient meanings that are inherent in the heritage of these items. Yes, I was, and I am still, ignorant. But, does being ignorant excuse offense?

The trend of white people wearing Native American headdresses at festivals, like Coachella, has garnered a lot of attention lately. The Native American headdress is connected with a deep spiritual meaning, and only certain people in a tribe are allowed to wear it. So, when non-Natives put it on, what they’re doing is really “playing dress-up” with something holy. It’s like applying “Blackface”; we dress as another race and, in so doing, end up promoting stereotypes, and degrading serious traditions.

The thing about this type of racism – yes, I’m calling it racism – is that it is much more elaborate than we first might think. In her article “A Complete Guide to Hipster Racism”, Lindy West talks about the phenomenon and how common it is. She brings up an example of the hashtags like #thuglife that we use without question and often without consequences. West mocks the (potential) reasoning of white people that post pictures of themselves singing hip-hop covers and holding gang signs, by captioning their thoughts in the moment, like this: “See, it’s hilarious, because we aren’t thugs—we are darling girls, and real thugs are black people who do crime!”

What I think it all comes down to is a question of entitlement. Perhaps, the ancestors of white Americans felt that they were entitled to degrade other cultures, and thereby could degrade other people. They may have felt entitled to take land and to ignore ancient cultures and their traditions. Today, it seems like we all feel entitled to wear whatever culturally significant clothes we want, even though these clothes or symbols are not culturally significant to us. We don’t care about that fact. What does it mean when people whose ancestors slaughtered Native Americans now are wearing the feathered headdresses of that culture?

Who decides when it is fine to wear something? Can it sometimes be honouring to wear a culturally significant item? Or, is “borrowing” cultural symbols and clothing always? And what about the people who are trying to be “Counter-Cultural”? Is there a difference between a white person who has grown up in Kenya wearing Maasai jewelry, and a person who has never set foot in Kenya wearing it? Or does it matter?

The issue of cultural appropriation is obviously a lot larger than we might initially anticipate. The questions about its merit and degree of offensiveness grows the more you look around, because cultural appropriation seems to be everywhere – it is becoming mainstream. Perhaps we need to think more about the messages we send – and the potential transgressions we make – when we dress to impress.

The Language of the World

“Music is the universal language of mankind”. These words penned many years ago by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – an American poet and educator – still ring true today. In our world, music is the perfect field for innovation and creativity. There is always new combinations of notes and words, each individually crafted in order to express thoughts and emotions.

Africa is full of countries that are full of music. Kenya is a good example of a country where musical artists are developing new ways of expression, combining both native and imported beats together with soaring melodies and complex harmonies. Different genres from all over the world are being mixed by artists: the carnival style rhythms of the zouk genre, the Jamaican breezes of reggae sound, the Congolese dance music called soukous, Western hip hop – the list of the combined elements seems endless!

Many of us tend to listen to generic music produced in the US or UK. Generally, the popular media only promotes musicians in, and from,  the Western world. With so many songs, so many artists, so many videos, it’s difficult to choose what to listen to. With more money spent on the music industry in the West, it is very logical that we have forgotten that other non-Western styles and artists exist. And yet, great musicians are live and express this living all around the world, and are rarely heard and appreciated. Rarely do we look at the Billboard Top 100 or other top music platforms and see the name of a credible non-Western artist.

In African countries, including Kenya, music is an art form that is easily accessible. In the matatus (minibuses for public transport) here in Nairobi, music is often played. While driving by a crowded street or market, beautiful rhythms and melodies can often be heard, pumped out by loud-speakers, car radios, and mobile phones. Music remains important for all people – rich and poor, old and young.

No one can be forced to appreciate a certain style of music, obviously, but sometimes we just haven’t been allowed to – or had the will to – discover new and different styles of music that are available. Maybe we’d like it, if only we could hear it! Even though Western media often only shows one side of the music industry, that doesn’t mean we can’t find the other side. Western music doesn’t need to be the predestined path we take. We as consumers have the power. We can – and should – encourage artists from all over the world to keep producing music. And, we need to listen!

Here’s a short list of some of African musicians that have recently been making waves in the African music industry (and Sauti Sol’s video for their song “Live and Die in Afrika”). In researching this article, we enjoyed learning about these artists, and listening to the latest up and coming expressions of life from this side of the world. Some suggestions:

Sauti Sol (Origin: Kenya)

Diamond Platnumz (Origin: Tanzania)

Tiwa Savage (Origin: Nigeria)

Sarkodie (Origin: Ghana)

Juliana Kanyomozi (Origin: Uganda)

Yvonne Chaka Chaka (Origin: South Africa)

Oumou Sangaré (Origin: Mali)

It’s a privilege to be able to hear how different music styles and genres can be mixed together in endless combinations for unique sounds that satisfy the ears. With all of the incredible music that is available – on the internet and all over the world, it’s definitely time to open up our ears. Now is the time to discover unrated and underrated musicians, and let them wow us with music we’ve never heard before. Longfellow was right – music is the universal language – regardless of where it comes from. 

The Insufferable Pressure of Sports

Lance Armstrong, Marion Jones, Rashid Ramzi, Kelli White, and Regina Jacobs. These are the names behind some of the most scandalous doping incidents in world sports. Now world famous tennis player Maria Sharapova, five time grand slam winner, and the richest female athlete in the world, has been suspended for doping – using performance enhancing drugs – after failing a drug test on January 26th.

Sharapova was charged with an anti-doping violation on March 2nd and will be banned from tennis conditionally from March 12th, as she awaits the determination of her violation. Sharapova claims that she has been taking the prohibited drug, mildronate, since 2006, as prescribed by her family doctor to treat heart issues. However, what she didn’t know was that the drug had recently been added to the list of prohibited drugs in 2016, as it increases the heart’s endurance.

Doping has long since been a problem in the world of sports. The pressure to do well is almost suffocating. For up and coming athletes who are young, doping is an easy way to rapidly improve performance. As aging athlete’s face challenges, doping is a way to keep up with the younger generation, especially since professional sports is mostly young person’s profession. Coupled with the easy accessibility of sport-enhancing drugs, doping seems to be a convenient way to improve one’s performance.

There are five doping classes of prohibited drugs. Stimulants mask fatigue and make the athletes more alert. Anabolic agent’s steroids help the athletes train harder, and gain more muscle. Diuretics, which hide other drugs, help remove fluids from the body. Narcotic analgesics mask the pain caused by injury or fatigue. Peptides and hormones, give the red blood cells more energy, and help build muscle.

There is also a practice called “blood doping”, which is the process of removing one’s blood and storing it, and then injecting it back into the system to improve oxygen flow to the lungs and muscles. Each of these doping methods comes with serious side effects, some of which include heart failure, kidney damage, and strokes. However, a number of athletes are willing to take their chances with the side effects in order to do well in their chosen profession. Why would they sacrifice their health, and resort to illegal practices?

In our world, sports play an instrumental role in the world of entertainment. They provide a way to release stress, and emotions in a healthy way. The benefits of playing a sport, not only on a professional level, but also for amateurs, are lifelong. Sports lower blood pressure, increase fitness, heart strength, and overall strength. Doctors often encourage people to play a sport.

However the professional world of sports is a different game altogether, and is very stressful. Most athletes go into professional sports knowing that at a certain age, usually before 40 their careers will be over. The competition is stiff, and the strain on the athlete’s body is more than exhausting. One injury could ruin a career. And with the Olympics looming, the pressure could be insufferable.

Will the tragedies of Sharpova, Armstrong and Jones finally change the behaviours and mindsets of professional athletes, and cause them to eschew performance-enhancing drugs for good? Likely not. It seems that the pressure of today’s media-driven society on athletes is just too strong – and they are too weak to fight anymore.