Heroes are placed on pedestals because they are what we perceive to be the idealized version of ourselves.
They come through in the clutch, play the game the right way, succeed without cutting corners.
Until, as we learned once again Monday, they don't.
The digital handwringing began almost the second it was announced that Milwaukee slugger Ryan Braun would be suspended for the rest of the year for being tied to a Florida clinic that distributed performance-enhancing drugs. This coming a year and a half after Braun vehemently denied such allegations.
He's not the first athlete to refute such ties only to be caught with his hand in the cookie jar and proved a liar later on down the line. He's likely not the last.
And if any of this surprises you, you'll also probably be shocked to learn that the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy all aren't real either.
While it would be lovely to live in a world where people get paid a king's ransom for an honest day's work, here's the thing – we don't. Pro athletes are insanely competitive human beings. If they see a means of getting ahead, of making a couple extra million dollars, well … where there's a will, there's a way.
In Braun's case, he denied the allegations initially to preserve his public image so he could keep earning millions of dollars on and off the field. As anyone who has a past will tell you, you can run only so far, so fast from it before it catches up to you.
But what does it matter?
Braun, as a baseball player, is an entertainer. Nothing more. Nothing he does has any real world consequences. He's not saving lives, putting out fires or doing anything else that matters in the grand scheme of things.
Entertainers have long done what they've had to in order to enhance their craft, and if you don't believe that last statement, you clearly aren't much of a music fan. Not that I'm defending him in the slightest. What Braun did was shameful in that he cheated. But there are much, much more important things to worry about in the world than a guy who made a couple of bad decisions and tried to cover his tracks all so he could hit a ball a little bit farther.
Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.
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