Do Sports and Domestic Violence Go Hand-In-Hand?
From David Justice and Halle Berry to Mike Tyson and Robin Givens all the way to the most recent example of Brandon Marshall and his wife Michi Nogami-Marshall, sports and domestic violence seem to correspond with one another. Domestic violence, in any case, is a serious problem. However, the problem gets a lot more serious when the male is a very big strong, well-trained athlete and the female is no physical threat whatsoever.
Unfortunately, this is usually the case when it comes to love and sports. As has widely been reported, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Marshall was stabbed in the abdomen by his wife. After initially claiming to have fallen on a broken vase, it was determined that Marshall had indeed been stabbed by his wife—who claimed she did it in self-defense. The two have a history of domestic violence disputes and it seems we may never know who’s really at fault.
We could say a great deal here about athletes not knowing the difference between the machismo and bravado of the locker room and dealing with real-life issues. We could also write off such aggressive behavior toward their spouses as the result of the use of performance-enhancing drugs. However, not all athletes use PEDs and many of them seem to have good relationships with their wives.
Also, in some cases, the domestic violence disputes end up in the opposite dynamic from the usual male-on-female violence. Recall Chris Henry, a wide receiver but for the Cincinnati Bengals, who died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head when he fell out of a moving truck driven by his fiancee in the midst of a domestic dispute.
Is there a solution for this problem?
The ultimate answer is not an easy one by any means, but there are steps that could be taken. In the NFL, players are afforded a lot of opportunity—they have legal experts speak to them about laws which may affect them and their lifestyles; they have financial experts and analysts talk to them about the importance of investing and saving. Why not have a few counselors talk about domestic disputes and administer a few workshops on conflict resolution and emotional intelligence? It sure seems like a small investment to me toward what may improve the quality of life for not only the athletes themselves, but their families. In cases of repeat offenders, seeking professional help should be a required condition to continue to play.
Many of us laughed when Ron Artest infamously thanked his psychiatrist for helping him to relax and focus. It’s possible more of us, especially athletes, should have been listening. We have to remove the stigma from getting help in these situations. After all, the comfy couch beats a prison cell (or hospital bed, for that matter) any day.