Here’s an eye opener for parents…the average age that a child starts taking dietary supplements is 10.8 years old, so they would likely still be playing in the Minor division of Little League®.

Taylor Hooton, a former Little Leaguer®, was a 17-year-old high school athlete from Plano, Texas. In 2003, he took his own life after using anabolic steroids. Taylor’s parents, family and friends started the Taylor Hooton Foundation (THF) in his memory after learning that Taylor and many other teenagers throughout the nation used steroids and Appearance and Performance Enhancing Drugs (APEDs). The Foundation has set out to help educate parents, children and coaches about the dangers of using these drugs.

“As parents, we were shocked to learn how many kids are using APEDs,” said Don Hooton, Taylor Hooton’s father and the Founder and President of THF. “We formed the foundation to address this issue; to raise awareness about how widespread this drug use is and to educate people about how dangerous steroids and other APEDs can be.”

To help educate Little League parents, players and volunteers, Little League is partnering with the Taylor Hooton Foundation on a set of online educational materials.

Almost two million high school and middle school students admit to using anabolic steroids and millions more use unregulated products that are purchased at health and vitamin stores. With up to 25 percent of those dietary supplements being spiked with banned substances, the problem doesn’t stop at steroids.

Some of the signs of steroid abuse include bad acne, oily skin, paranoia, bad breath and mood swings (depression and ’roid rage).

“Only 17 percent of American adults see steroid usage as a big problem among high school athletes,” said Hooton. “I’m not surprised that adults are so unaware. Our kids keep this behavior secret and deny their usage, just like their role models do. And while we focus nonstop attention on this subject whenever an elite athlete is accused of doping, few have focused on a more serious component of this behavior, the fact that so many of our children are using these drugs.”

The purpose of Little League has little to do with on-field performance, and so much more to do with developing the life skills of teamwork, sportsmanship, dedication and citizenship. Steroids and APEDs have no place in Little League, and the efforts from the Taylor Hooton Foundation can help keep your Little Leaguer safe and having a great Little League experience.