School trip next for A-Rod

BOB ELLIOTT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

TAMPA -- Many gave Alex Rodriguez's public apology a thumbs down.

Not Don Hooton, who was at Steinbrenner Field yesterday afternoon, to hear Rodriguez speak. Hooton is the president of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, which Rodriguez joined yesterday.

"This was a good day," Hooton said. "We're all about educating kids. It's one thing for me, a 58-year-old, to go into a classroom and tell kids the evils of steroid use.

"Alex Rodriguez has a great deal more credibility with kids than I do."

The Foundation was formed in memory of Taylor Hooton, the McKinney, Tex., 16-year-old who began taking steroids in January of 2003 and took his own life seven months later due to depression.

"Alex sounded just like my son, not knowing what he was taking," Hooton said. "My son began taking steroids after working out at the local YMCA to get bigger and stronger. We have to educate our young children. We asked (Taylor) how much he was taking and he said 'oh about this much.' Just as Alex did."

Sen. George Mitchell wrote in his Mitchell Report children had to be educated of the ills of steroids.

Yet, is taking the highest-paid player who has a super-model or a rock star on his arm the best image to take into a class room to display the evils of performance-enhancing drugs?

Would it not be better to have someone in tow ruined by steroid use?

Maybe Rodriguez will make a visit or two to classrooms, but entering the second year of a 10-year, $275-million US contract he should make a donation to the foundation which has a budget of $700,000.

"President Obama said it pretty well when he spoke on the evils of performance-enhancing drugs," said Rob Housman, a member of the Foundation's board of directors. "We have to attack this day in, day out."

Rodriguez gave more details than other Yankee steroid apologist that come in the spring -- Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens -- but he left as many questions unanswered.

Still, Hooton and Housman were happy to have a major leaguer on their side.

"Remember we are the educators, not the umpires," said Housman.


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