Was Being Brawn Worth it for Braun?

December 11, 2011

Political Theory


If you are one of those people that spend all day on espn.com or turn on SportsCenter for even 20 minutes, you know the recent conflict with Ryan Braun. For those of us who are not familiar on the situation, Ryan Braun is an outfielder for the MLB team, the Milwaukee Brewers. Since 2007, he has made his name for himself in the league as one of the better all around players. In the 2011 season, he hit 33 home runs and 111 RBIs, an accomplishment that is deserving of the Most Valuable Player Award in the National League. When at bat, analysts continuously mentioned his bat speed when hitting. A few days ago, some news broke out that could potentially hurt his career as a professional athlete and will undoubtably hurt his reputation. Braun tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Unless you have been living under a rock for the last half-decade, you know that about the issue of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs in baseball. Among the many stars exposed for being users include big names such as Roger Clemons, A-Rod and Manny Ramirez. Although they are still considered some of the biggest names in sports, there reputation is forever tainted because they did not earn their accomplishments. So the question comes into play: Was being brawn worth it for Braun?

It is also important to note that it is not completely proven that he took steroids, there is still evidence being done on the matter. For arguments sake, we will assume he was rightfully accused. For those who care more about money than power or respect, Braun might not have made the worst decision. If a player takes something to increase their performance, come contract time, those better stats will get them more money. In Braun’s case, he got a contract worth about $120,000,000. His 50 game suspension this season will still earn him far over $20,000,000. In an economy like this, how can you complain for earning that kind of money in 2/3’s of a full season?

On the other side of the spectrum is a matter of pride, dignity and respect. Ryan won one of the most prestigious individual awards baseball has to offer and this will not be taken away from him. However, many people will disregard or lessen the significance of such an accomplishment because he may have not done it fairly. Think about if you found out your high school valedictorian who had an exceptional G.P.A. and perfect standardized test scores cheated in every exam he ever took. There is no doubt that you will no longer give him as much credit as you once would have. Regardless, they still received admission to Harvard with a scholarship but it does not matter anymore. Where you would have once boasted about how smart your valedictorian is, now they are almost totally discredited.

Through the eyes of a political theorist/philosopher, we can apply the arguments of John Stuart Mill and other Utilitarian thinkers. When thinking about this, the idea of whether the ends justify the means comes into play. In terms of Braun and other athletes accused of using performance enhancing drugs, are the incredible amounts of money and rewards worth the losing of respect from fans, disabling your team from using you for 1/3 of a season and degrading the league as a whole? The Brewers did significantly better because of Braun’s contributions but now they will go into next season without their best player. I think it was not worth it because Braun benefited the most from the drugs but he also got hurt the most. The final thing to speculate on is: if he did not get caught taking the drugs, would taking them be worth it if it brings your team victories, yourself fame and wealth and sport as a whole more recognition? What would Mill say?

You can find information on the issue here : http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/7338271/ryan-braun-milwaukee-brewers-tests-positive-performance-enhancing-drug

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6 Comments on “Was Being Brawn Worth it for Braun?”

  1. collinam Says:

    I think for Braun, it was definitely worth being brawn if he only cares about money. He earned a large contract by taking performance enhancing drugs, and now he can live comfortably for the rest of his life on that contract. However, if he cares about his reputation or the possibility of making the Hall of Fame, it was most certainly not worth it. Personally, as a baseball player myself, the Hall of Fame would matter more to me, so I don’t think his decision to use steroids was worth it.

    Making it to Cooperstown is one of the greatest honors that a player can receive in any sport. It requires an overall great career to receive a bust in Cooperstown. With the recent closure of the steroid era, the baseball writers have claimed that no player who has been tied to steroids will be voted into the Hall of Fame. This means that if Braun assembles a Hall of Fame career, he will likely not get the nod.

    This does not follow with the Machiavellian thinking that the ends justify the means. There have been numerous great players with record breaking careers that likely won’t make it into the Hall of Fame. Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmero are just a few. These players are all perennial all-stars and have Hall of Fame worthy careers, and maybe in 15 years you can add Ryan Braun to this list. They all have enough money to live in comfort forever, but its likely that none of them will get the pass to Cooperstown. Just having Hall of Fame numbers does not justify the fact that you used steroids. So the ends don’t justify the means in the sense that the means you use to obtain your success in baseball decide whether or not you are accepted into the Hall of Fame.

  2. ksoisson Says:

    First, as you said, I think it’s really important that you don’t immediately assume he knowingly took some sort of performance enhancing drugs. If he did, then we can discuss Braun’s take. If he doesn’t care about his reputation and it’s all about winning, performing well and making loads of money, then it would make sense that he took them. If he cares at all about his reputation, then this was a huge mistake. We can see how steroids have affected famous players’ reputations such as Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire. They were great players, but the use of performance enhancing drugs really overshadows their accomplishments. I don’t think the ends justified the means, but that’s simply because I would care more about my reputation as an MLB player. I’m not sure what Braun was thinking, but I think Mill would agree too that it probably wasn’t worth it to take performance enhancing drugs to gain an advantage, especially because he was caught and his reputation is now tarnished.

  3. ceabee Says:

    I don’t think it would be worth it to take the performance enhancing drugs to bring your team victories, yourself fame and wealth and the sport as a whole more recognition because i consider such drugs to be cheating. Banning such drugs makes sure all players are on a “level playing field” per say. I thought by this day and age baseball players and athletes in general were past such foolish acts, but apparently not. I would rather be known for my integrity and character than for being a great baseball player only because I used performance enhancing drugs. I think Mill would say that it wasn’t worth taking the performance enhancing drugs because of how in the end they ended up ruining his reputation and credibility.

  4. mrau188 Says:

    I think that personally it would be worth it because nobody else would know that you are breaking the rules and you would be able to achieve all that you can achieve without it getting out there that you cheated. Unfortunately for Braun he was one of the souls who tested positive from performance enhancing drugs during a time when this topic is sensitive in the world of sports. When athletes everywhere are training year round to be the best that they can possibly be just so they can make it in the sport that the end up dedicating their entire life to just to make it a career. Sometimes it is worth the risks that you need to take to be successful at something you love. Have you ever done something a little shady to get the girl that you wanted like cheat on your own girlfriend, well if you get away with it then your a bro, but if you get caught then you are in big trouble and can relate the the problem that Braun faces right now. This is just disappointing that the game is getting taken over by all of these performance enhancing drugs but, i just want the game of baseball to stay as america’s pastime and be around forever, so as long as the sport is getting the publicity then it is all ok for me.

  5. akmcoy Says:

    Personally, I don’t think this was worth it at all to Braun. Let’s be real, it’s not like that extra money was absolutely necessary for him. If he did in fact take steroids, and we’re viewing it as a business decision I don’t think the pros outweigh the cons on this one. Within the first 6 hours of this news breaking, ESPN had already dug up old interviews with Braun during which he blasted and critiqued guys who had been caught taking them already. The toll that this will take on his reputation, and the view the public has of him will significantly hurt his career. If this turns out to be true he will not only be exposed as a cheater, but also as a hypocrite and a liar. You may say that any steroid user would be seen as that, but when ESPN shows quotes from Braun saying that users should “just admit the whole truth” so that it clear up faster, it reflects even more poorly on him that he is not taking his own advice. I think if it is proven he actually did use steroids, it will be something he won’t be able to overcome. At least with Manny Ramirez, people still remember his play, not just the fact that he took steroids. He played for what felt like a decade before that news came out, whereas Braun has only been in the spotlight for the past few seasons.

    On top of that, with Prince Fielder potentially leaving the Brewers this off-season Braun would have been due for a large bonus regardless. He didn’t have to raise his RBI or HR total to be such a valued player since he is considered a well rounded athlete on the field anyways. Like I said, if we’re looking at it as a business decision, I think that he made a terrible choice by doing this. The extra money he might’ve gotten from boosted stats doesn’t outweigh the long term damage this will do (if it proves to be true).

  6. jsimon99 Says:

    First off, I believe that steroids are bad for the sport, but they truly do not change the entire nature of a baseball player because there is still a technique a hitter needs that is only able to be achieved by the professionals in the MLB. I personally am not offended by players like A-Rod, Barry Bonds, or Braun taking steroids because you still need the skill as a batter to be able to connect with the baseball and have the athletic swing that all professionals possess. To most people, Braun ruined his reputation as a baseball player and let down his fans and organization. Because of news reports already even if he did not take steroids, the public already thinks of him differently, this is unfortunate. If I were Braun and I knew I wouldn’t get caught, I would take steroids to get the fame and rewards because I truthfully believe that it takes a different kind of skill to be a great baseball player like Braun even though he may have taken steroids. Hopefully Braun’s game overall is not changed because he is still respected by me.

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