“The Substitute 3”: Steroids Can Kill You Right Now

The Substitute 3: Winner Takes All (1999) – The use of the steroid plot in this movie only serves as a convenient excuse for Treat Williams, the part-time mercenary, part-time teacher, to engage in an all-out violent war with the local organized crime syndicate. Nonetheless, the movies doesn’t fail to demonize steroids with a strong anti-steroid message along the way.

After the attractive local college English literature professor is brutally attacked and assaulted for refusing to give star football players a free pass, Treat Williams character is determined to get revenge. He discovers that the most of the star football players on the college team are using anabolic steroids. Of course, these players just happen to be aggressive, disrespectful jerks. According to Treat Williams, such “wired” behavior could only be attributable to steroids or cocaine. Steroids? Cocaine? What’s the difference?! Apparently, these drugs must be pharmacologically similar since they are both on the controlled substance list.

Anyone who has seen any of the previous movies in the Substitute series will know to expect a high body count in a Treat Williams movie. A single assault and widespread steroid use by the college football team do not provide sufficient motive for significant casualties. So, the steroid scandal is escalated when Treat learns that the head football coach is supplying his team with steroids who in turn is acquiring them from a local organized crime syndicate.

The final straw for Treat is the death of a college football player in the gym. The athlete was inexplicably lifting weights in the middle of the night, performing bench presses without the assistance of a spotter. After several repetitions to failure, the football player is unable to rack the weight. The bar falls on his neck and ultimately asphyxiates him.

Treat discovers the player’s limp body underneath the bar the following morning. Inside a gym bag next to the bench, Treat finds a bottle of Anatest, described as a veterinarian steroid used for race horses. Somehow, Treat determines that the dead weightlifter was injecting enough steroids for “three tons of horse flesh.” In spite of the overwhelming evidence that a weight bar loaded with several 45 pound plates pressed against the next of the lifter was the cause of death, Treat concludes that the death was caused by a steroid overdose.

The death of the football player inspired Treat, as the substitute English literature professor, to give a heartfelt lecture warning his class (and football players in his class) of the litany of side effects one can experience from steroids. I don’t think a single purported side effect was omitted during the course of his lecture. Treat continues by hammering home the point, that… “Steroids can kill you. Not years from now or down the road but right now, today, this minute.” Powerful words, if not completely untrue.

The Substitute 3: Winner Takes All

About Millard Baker

Millard Baker writes about anabolic steroids and performance enhancing drugs and their use and impact in sport and society. He discusses the medical and non-medical uses of anabolic-androgenic steroids while advocating a harm reduction approach to steroid education.