Does Violence in Sports Transfer to Homestead?

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), July 28, 2002 | Go to article overview

Does Violence in Sports Transfer to Homestead?


Byline: Mike Imrem

Athletes often like to blur the lines between themselves and warriors, but probably not when it comes to the issue of domestic violence.

The similarities shouldn't be ignored, however.

Reports of violence by athletes have become epidemic in recent weeks. Basketball's Allen Iverson, baseball's Scott Erickson and auto racing's Al Unser Jr. are among those recently accused of abuse of women.

Though news, none of this is new. For decades athletes, including some of the greatest ever like Jim Brown, have been involved in these sorts of incidents.

Within this context came a remark Friday night on TV's nightly news: "It's the nature of their training."

The comment had nothing to do with athletes. It had everything to do with soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., where four women were slain during the past six weeks.

The primary suspect in each murder is the woman's husband. Three of the men are Army special-operations personnel recently returned from duty in Afghanistan.

"It's the nature of their training."

The point being made is these men were conditioned to kill in combat. The implication is that once back home, they couldn't distinguish a foreign war from a domestic dispute.

Now, let's get back to sports, back to the Iversons and Ericksons and Unsers and all other athletes accused of domestic violence.

Could the same -"It's the nature of their training" - be said of them? Does "the nature of their training" translate into abusing women?

One difference between soldiers and athletes is the degree of physical dominance to which they're programmed. Soldiers are trained to kill, so their domestic-violence incidents would be more likely to reach murderous extremes.

Athletes are conditioned to be physical, to increase their power, to be aggressive, to be unyielding, to confront challenges, to defy opposition, most of all to win, win, win.

It seems plausible that mindset could escalate routine household arguments into battery.

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