Athletes and Violence

By Matt O'Connor

Staff Writer

Recently, South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius was accused of murdering his girlfriend. Pistorius’s story is that he mistook his girlfriend for an intruder and shot her. This is only one of many cases of domestic violence where the culprit is an athlete. Back in the 90s, there was O.J Simpson. In 2007, there was Michael Vick. In 2010, there was the murder of Yeardley Love. Does this trend show athletes are more prone to violence or is it simply a coincidence?

Some students believe that athletes are in fact more likely to commit violent acts than non-athletes. Freshman Charlie Digristina is one of them. He thinks that athletes act this way “because they think they are better. Some could think they are better and they could tell each other what to do.” Digristina means that athletes believe they have the power because they’re bigger and stronger. Freshman Will Johnson also believes that athletes are more likely to act violently because they have short tempers. “I think some baseball players get mad and stuff,” said Johnson. Johnson said he hasn’t heard of specific violence cases “besides some football players smacking each other up in a bar.”

Freshman Dylan Fleischman believes that football players in particular seem to be more prone to violence. Fleischman attributes this to the fact that many football players get brain injuries and then end up hurting people. He gave the example of ex-NFL player Junior Seau, who had collision-induced brain damage and ended up killing himself in May of 2012. “Junior Seau, a couple months ago, he had brain injuries from football so he killed himself,” said Fleischman. Sophomore Hillel Matasar thinks that football players are violent because they’re angry at themselves. Sophomore Matt Murad thinks that “lots of testosterone’’ causes athletes to be violent.

Senior Kea Glazier, however, doesn’t think athletes are violent. “I don’t think there are a lot of athletes who do violent things. I just think that people notice them more. It’s not (that they’re violent) because they’re athletes,” said Glazier.

Is it possible to prevent athletes from hurting people off the field? “I guess it’s up to the coaches to make sure they do the right thing,” said Glazier. “Everyone’s going to be violent; (we should just) enforce the laws that restrict violence,” said freshman William Potter.” “I guess if they show signs of extreme anger we could take them to a therapist,” said freshman Alex Tso.

Digristina also talked about the Michael Vick dog fighting scandal. According to the New York Times, Michael Vick admitted to breeding dogs and causing six of them to die. He also made a probation vow to become a role model for kids, and work to end dog fighting. Since coming back, Vick has been said to be at the height of his career.

Additionally, Digristina talked about Ray Lewis. Ray Lewis was a linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. “I believe he killed two people,” said Digristina. Lewis then proceeded to go to jail, get back out of jail, use deer antlers as steroids, got back into the NFL, and just recently retired.

Tso brought up O.J Simpson. Simpson, once a star NFL running-back, is now known mostly for allegedly killing his ex-wife and her boyfriend. Although Simpson was acquitted of this crime, many still suspect that Simpson was guilty.

Oscar Pistorius was known for being the first athlete to compete in the Olympics with prosthetic legs from the knees down, but now he is well known for allegedly murdering his girlfriend. What do other JD students think about this? Potter believes that Oscar Pistorius will likely be convicted. “The blade runner killed his girlfriend,” said Potter. Digristina agrees.

Potter thinks that we can learn something from this and other violence cases. “We can definitely learn famous people can do dumb stuff like everyone else,” said Potter. One person who did do dumb stuff was Tiger Woods. “Tiger Woods smacked his wife,” said Potter.

Do J-D athletes think they themselves are violent? Freshman Jamie St. Amour, a defender in hockey, believes that although he is occasionally violent on the rink, he is a docile person in his everyday life.

Freshman Sam Mueller is also a defender in hockey. He doesn’t think his sport will affect him off the field. He also doesn’t think anyone on his team will become violent. He thinks that while football players are violent on the field, they are not violent in real life.

Fleischman, a defensive end in football and a goalie in lacrosse, thinks that he is violent on the field, but not off the field. “Definitely, it’s all about big hits. The sport allows you to ‘kill’ people (on the field), it’s fun,” said Fleischman; “(But) I don’t think it transfers off the field,” said Fleischman.

Matasar, also a defensive end in football, think’s he’s violent in the field, but he’s not going to do “that stuff,” such as assault. Matasar thinks some people on his football team will turn out violent, but he’s not giving names. Sophomore Matt Murad doesn’t want to be violent. “The only violent sport I want to play is Star Wars,” said Murad.

Senior Mike Engstrom is a midfielder in lacrosse. He says that most of the violence in lacrosse is just hitting. He also doesn’t think he or his teammates are going to be violent in real life. “It’s a physical game,” said Engstrom.

Senior Gorvdeep Singh, a guard in basketball, has a similar view. He thinks that most of the violence that basketball players exhibit is related to the game. “They get into fights by saying stuff on the internet about other teams. I think everyone gets into the game. When you lose, you’re not going to get happy (and because of that you might get into a fight),” said Singh.

Do girl athletes feel the same way? Senior Olivia Jasinski think’s she’s nonviolent both on and off the field. Senior Jackie Halpin believes she’s violent on the field, but only sometimes. “Only when I’m angry,” said Halpin. Halpin doesn’t believe she’s violent off the field. Halpin believes that men are more violent on the field. “I think they have bigger egos, their game is more violent in general,” said Halpin. Halpin and Jasinski both think none of their teammates will be violent in everyday life.