In the story Gym Candy by Carl Deuker, Mick Johnson is under very much pressure by his dad, Mike Johnson. This is mainly because he was a high school and college football star, and also got drafted into the NFL. This creates enormous pressure on Mick to succeed in his football career and surpass his dad in order to make him proud. Mick’s father, Mike Johnson is responsible for the source of great pressure that mick feels which lead to Mick thinking that steroids will be the panacea to these troubles. Mick’s dad was a football prodigy, both in high school and in college when he played for the huskies.
He even got drafted into the NFL to play for the Chargers. But he failed because he was a screw –off. Mick’s dad says I know I’ve worked you hard all these years. Your mom says I put too much pressure on you, and I guess I do” (Deuker 65). Here mick’s dad admits that he puts pressure on mick to succeed in his football career, and mick is clearly affected by this. When he played pop warner football, he ended up working extra hard, giving 110 percent effort to outplay and outwork all of his teammates, because he knew that he needed to make an impression from the start if he wanted to be notable.
Even though Mick has not started to think about using steroids, it is clear that Mick will do whatever it takes to get to the top of whatever group he is playing football with. As a kid, mick would always look at the wall with all of his dad’s newspaper articles and headlines about him breaking some record or about a great win in college or high school. His dad would always tell him that the next empty walls were his to fill. ‘Those are yours Mick. ’ He’d say. ‘You’re going to fill them up with your own headlines’ (10).
Mick feels great that his dad wants him to get many headlines and be a great football player, but what if he doesn’t make any headlines? What if he is too mediocre in high school and doesn’t get into any good colleges for football? Mick will do whatever he needs to, and he would take a huge risk, like taking steroids, to ensure his success. For him, winning in football is what matters most, and since he knows that steroids can make him better and stronger, he must take it due to the fact that mick will do anything to win. Mick is now fully into taking steroids, with injections, not pills.
He has a feeling drew knows, so when drew calls him, he picks him up and they drive to the park. He finally admits to Drew that he is using steroids. Mick says ‘I use steroids because I have to,’ I said, saying out loud what I’d never before been able to admit, not even to myself. ‘ I use because without them I’m not good enough. ’ (532). Mick thinks that he is not good enough without the steroids. Though this might not be true, it clearly shows that mick will take whatever advantage he can get to be the best. Steroids were the quickest and easiest way, even though he still had to work hard and deal with the side effects.
Since the pressure now is so great, mick thinks that if he doesn’t use steroids, he will fail to succeed. You can see this in the final game against foothill. At firs he decides he doesn’t want to use the steroids, but since there is so much pressure, he reverts back to taking steroids in fear of not playing as well as he wants to. In fact, in all of his games, his dad will miss work to come see them, but only if he is starting. If he doesn’t perform well, the disappointment that his dad will show is crushing, which creates pressure on mick. Mick is show to be a great football player with talent and good work ethic.
It seems unlikely for him to succumb to something like steroids in order to become better that he already is. But pressure on a person can be a game changer. It will make someone like Mick not care about what is happening around him and only focus on what he wants to achieve. It may have consequences, but a risk is something mick is wiling to take. Mick gets pressure from his dad, because he has such high expectations for his son. When a person fells pressure to meet and surpass expectations, especially a father’s, they will do whatever is within their power to do so.