I’m not going to attempt to get inside Ryan Braun’s head. I’m sure it’s a dark, crowded and confused place right about now.
I’m a big believer in “innocent until proven guilty,” so I’ll wait for due process through Major League Baseball’s established rules and protocol before I pass any judgment about Braun and his alleged steroid use.
As for the rumors about herpes, I will never pass judgment because it’s none of my business. What if the rumors are true and Braun does indeed have the disease?
To that I say: So what?
Besides being personal, Braun’s medical record is none of my business. I shouldn’t know about it and I definitely shouldn’t care about it because it has nothing to do with me and absolutely nothing to do with Ryan Braun the baseball player. The fact that his HIPAA rights were violated and laws were broken is another story, a bigger story.
I’m not a Milwaukee Brewers fan, but I like Braun for what he does between the lines. He could be a prick off the field, and I couldn’t care less. He’s a team player and he has fun playing the game he loves, and I love that in a baseball player. I absolutely despised Pete Rose as a person when I was a kid. But I know a good ballplayer when I see one, and Rose would be the first guy I’d want on my team if I was a manager back then. Braun is a guy I want on my team, too, because he’s a producer.
What has been most disturbing about this story has been the reaction by some people I’ve talked with. Since the alleged herpes story broke, I’ve learned how ignorant some people are about sexually transmitted disease — mostly that it’s uncommon and only bad people are affected.
I’m bothered most by the comments and conversations that assume Braun is sleeping around and knowingly spreading the disease. It only takes one encounter to get it. And chances are extremely high Braun didn’t sleep with someone who told him ahead of time they were infected. More than likely, the person who infected him either didn’t know they had it or they were irresponsible and didn’t say a word. Either way, Braun probably didn’t know.
Speaking of not knowing, how about this fact: Nationwide, 16.2 percent or about one out of six people 14 to 49 years of age has genital HSV-2 infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That’s tens of millions of people. In the U.S. alone.
That means someone you know has herpes.
And chances are you don’t know about it because it’s none of your business.
I don’t have herpes, but I know people who do. I know they were not promiscuous and irresponsible. I know there is a significant support community for people with the disease. I know they are not walking time bombs waiting to explode and infect people. I know they live healthy and productive lives and I don’t consider them lepers in society.
While we don’t know if Braun has herpes, let’s assume, for the sake of discussion, he does. After the initial media reaction is blown out of proportion and his life is examined under a microscope, something good could come out it: Braun could emerge as an awareness advocate and help educate a very misinformed public about what the disease is, how you get it and how you can live a vibrant life with it.
That would be a good outcome to what many consider a “bad” story.
In the end, Braun might be a victim of circumstance who was violated by having his protected-by-law private medical records made public. And because of his stature as a highly visible public figure, he’s paying the price by having his personal life exposed in a grand way. But being an optimist, I can’t help but look at the positives. If Braun does have herpes, I think his story could help with both understanding and prevention. That would make him an even bigger winner in my book.
Regardless of how this alleged rumor plays out, all I care about as a baseball fan is Ryan Braun the ballplayer. And I’m looking forward to seeing him back on the field in 2012.