Tragedy of murder in sport rears again

Alfred Chan Columnist

By Alfred Chan, Alfred Chan is a Roar Expert

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    No matter what the circumstance or who the victim, murder is one of the most vile crimes and Jovan Belcher’s murder-suicide brings to question how sporting organisations stand on issues of violence and crime.

    The reactions from the NFL, Kansas City Chiefs and general sporting community have varied across internet forums after Belcher took his own life by shooting himself in the head while Chiefs’ head coach Romeo Crennel and General Manager Scott Pioli pleaded with their starting linebacker not to do so.

    Hours earlier, Belcher murdered his girlfriend.

    Violence is a major issue across all professional sporting codes with a volatile concoction of money and masculinity infused together. The NFL has long had a history of player violence.

    Condolences have been issued worldwide towards the Belcher family and members of the Chiefs organisation.

    The usual “counselling” services have also been made readily to all members of the Chiefs organisation. After witnessing Belcher’s suicide, Crennel and Pioli’s lives will never be the same.

    The use of the word “tragedy” has been intriguing to follow and one which has arguably been used inappropriately.

    Tragedies occur when bad things happen to good people. No matter how good of a person Belcher was throughout his 25 years of life, it was all undone when he took someone else’s. Taking his own life in front of witnesses makes him in absolute disgrace if he wasn’t already one.

    Joe Linta, Belcher’s agent was one of the first to defend his client’s character.

    “Never until four hours ago did I think Jovan was anything but a model citizen,” Linta said.

    “Jovan was a happy, proud father, with pictures of his baby on his Facebook page.”

    The NFL and Chiefs have been quick to dismiss any ideas of delaying Monday’s (Australian time) game against the Carolina Panthers.

    This firm decision sends the message that the NFL will not acknowledge Belcher’s crimes with sympathy. Instead they will move past it rather than dwelling on the issue and will not accept any of the responsibility associated with the handling of Belcher’s psyche.

    The murder-suicide is eerily similar to the Chris Benoit murder-suicide in 2007 when the WWE wrestler committed suicide after murdering his wife and son. The WWE reacted by removing all mention of Benoit from their record books.

    The industry he had dedicated his life to turned their back on him.

    In recent years, the NFL has had to handle the fallout of both Ray Lewis and OJ Simpson murder trials. Although Lewis was never charged under dubious circumstances, the NFL levied a $250,000 fine and allowed him to become one of the greatest linebackers in history. He is considered a near certainty to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    The 1995 murder trial of OJ Simpson is one which has been cemented into the history books of the United States for many of the wrong reasons.

    Considered one of the greatest running backs in NFL history, Simpson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. Almost two decades on from the incident, speculation is still rampant.

    If the NFL is to committed to their stance against violence, they and the Kansas City Chiefs will do everything possible to distance themselves from Jovan Belcher.

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    The Crowd Says (1)

    • December 3rd 2012 @ 2:28pm
      Johnno said | December 3rd 2012 @ 2:28pm | ! Report

      Interesting article Alfred on a complex subject, and a good one.

      I have been following this case a bit it’s caught my attention and a lot of sports fans attentions. So I’ll give my 2 cents worth and opinions, on this.

      -Initially when i heard the news about this case, I thought immediately was concussion an issue. As a lot of talk in NFL lately about concussions, and ex players with all sorts of problems, and even taking there own life.

      -But he had 1 head knock and appeared to have a good medical report by all accounts.

      -On the subject of defending him, it;s a complex one. So some facts or views I will give. When an incident happens like this, for obvious reasons it’s a massively sensitive and embarrassing issue for both families involved, and very akward for the NFL too.

      -If the NFL fly off the handle and label him a sicko, and crazy and a piece of crap, it may only cause more trauma to the families involved , and also make the NFL look insensitive. Like I say this is a very sensitive issue with emotions running high straight after an event like this.

      -In QLD this year at start of year just before QLD election a school teacher from a private school took his own life and that of his young son or daughter from memory. Totally out of the blue, and totally unexpected. Both the 2 QLD leaders of the major parties Labor/Liberal were sensitive to the families , the school, and the man responsible . They didn’t fly off the handle.

      -And the thing is this. All industries very occasionally things like this will happen sadly,, all industries not just NFL but all industries.

      And on the duty of care issue, we have to remember some facts. These are adults we are dealing with , not teenagers or children.

      -The NFL is not a boarding school, a type of institution eg like a Jail. And there not a baby-sitting organisation for adults.

      -So like any industry not just sport, the NFL can’t monitor players 24 hours day 7 days a week, it’s not there job too.

      -So occaisoanly these things will happen from adults in any industry, or organisation. Not just the NFL. The NRL has had some problems too a few players were on various AVO’S orders and other problems. Either the NRL can cut the players and they eventually do or they help with there rehabilitation. Anthony Watts and Todd Carney and Robert Lui as examples.

      -Anthony Watts has been cut totally, for various problems which made headline news this year . Todd Carney less serious problems but still serous, has been given a lifeline and doing okay now.

      -But I don’t blame the NFL here. They are dealing and employing adults in the adult world, they are not a babysttiing organisation for adults, or a boarding school. They are a business. And if one is so stressed out in his job eg struggling to cope with fame, then they should quit, or if they are having personal problems they should maybe quit, it; snot the NFL responsibility , to force who they employ to have there life in order. And if you don’t they probably will eventually cut you adrift, like the NRL almost did with Todd carney.

      -And all industries not just sport this may come up. All industries have issues with things like drugs and alcohol, domestic violence, sexual harassment, and occasional sad stories like this. But thankfully it’s still only the minority of people who will do these things.

      I put this down to an isolated incident, not a result of the NFL medical staff with concussion issues, or the sport of gridiron in general.

      If he just flipped , well anyone in any industry can flip, he is human after all. Still doesn’t make it acceptable, and I think the NFL have handled things in a calm mature manner. Rather than flip out and demonise this player,, I think that would of done nothing for the sports credibility or shown any sensitivity, or demonstrate that the NFL is run by calm adults.

      -So yes I think the NFL have handled the situation well, in an obviously sad story.

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