Sports Heroes, Fallen Idols

By Stanley H. Teitelbaum | Go to book overview

7. Athletes and Violence toward Women

It’s not right to slap your wife and see the fear and the anger inside of her.
It’s not right to make her afraid that you are going to kill her.

Vance Johnson

It is generally believed that we are becoming a more violent society. In addition, the media coverage of violence is more extensive now—the television news is typically replete with reports of violent acts. We have been made aware of the prevalence of domestic violence in our culture; the FBI claims that every fifteen seconds a woman is being beaten by a husband or boyfriend!1 Correspondingly, rapes and other assaults on women by professional and college athletes are almost everyday events, and they receive widespread coverage.

In earlier eras athletes’ abuse of women may or may not have been less common, but it was certainly given much less publicity. In 1952 Jim Rivera (nicknamed Jungle Jim), an outfielder with the Chicago White Sox, made headlines when he was accused of rape. When confronted with the scandal Ford Frick, the baseball commissioner, said, “To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time a commissioner ever had to make a decision on a morals charge.”2 Fortunately for Rivera, the charges were dismissed and he had a productive ten-year Major League career. In 1958 Edward Bouchee, while playing with the Philadelphia Phillies, was arrested for exposing himself to a six-year-old girl and was placed on probation. In 1970 Lance Rentzel, a Dallas Cowboys football hero, was arrested on similar charges. But such headline-making incidents involving prominent sports figures were rare. By contrast, in more recent times such legendary heroes as Jason Kidd, Scottie Pippen, Barry Bonds, Darryl Strawberry, and Warren Moon have all been accused of domestic violence. And that is just the start of a long list of sports stars whose names appear on the police blotter, including José Canseco, Mark Chmura, Corey Dillon, Riddick Bowe, Dave Meggett, Moses Malone, Al Unser, and Robert Parish.

-138-

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Sports Heroes, Fallen Idols
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Sports Heroes, Fallen Idols iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1. the Need for Heroes 1
  • 2. the Psyche of the Athlete 17
  • 3. Baseball Gambling Scandals 33
  • 4. Football Gambling Scandals 58
  • 5. Basketball Gambling Scandals 69
  • 6. Self-Destructive Athletes 101
  • 7. Athletes and Violence toward Women 138
  • 8. Athletes and Murder 178
  • 9. Violence between Athletes 197
  • 10. Athletes’ Mental Health Problems 220
  • Epilogue 240
  • Notes 249
  • Index 265
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