Domestic abuse isn’t a learning experience, or something one moves forward from. It’s a character deficiency.
In sports, where production and dollar signs far outweigh morality, domestic violence might as well be on the same level as smoking pot. Or other victimless crimes.
On Saturday the New York Mets signed Jose Reyes, who was recently cut by the Colorado Rockies after serving a two-month suspension for allegedly grabbing his wife by the throat and pushing her into a glass door at a Four Seasons in Hawaii.
(What’s extra-sickening, in the embedded article, is how ESPN decided it was a good idea to display a smiling Jose Reyes in its thumbnail. An attempt at a redemption story is already underway.)
Thank god for Keith Law, who has consistently acted as the voice of truth and reason on the network that long ago sold out its integrity for access to superstar athletes. From today’s Baseball Tonight telecast:
Law: I’m extremely disappointed in the Mets for bringing him back. I understand that Jose Reyes served his suspension. He would probably be in jail if his wife had actually cooperated with investigators. She reported him at first, the allegation was that he threw her into a glass door and had she cooperated with investigators he would be in jail. We wouldn’t even be having this conversation.
However, I say I am extremely disappointed in the fact that they have decided to bring him back. Even though he is free to sign with anybody I think it sends a terrible message to the fan base given that we know that he’s been alleged to have committed this act of domestic violence.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), “nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States,” and “on a typical day there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.”
This has been and continues to be a huge problem. Not only in the U.S., but globally. Our brains are simply too small, and our adrenal glands too large. If there was ever a question that the human species once evolved from our primate ancestors, there may not be a more telling shred of evidence.
We won’t ever know the true number of people who are victims of domestic violence, as the only evidence we have is what’s reported. What’s interesting is we tend to see this behavior significantly more often in the NFL, whether it’s Ray Rice knocking his girlfriend out in an elevator in Atlantic City, or Greg Hardy nearly beating his girlfriend to death over a pile of guns, or Adrian Peterson hitting his son’s testicles with a switch.
Oh and that’s only since 2014.
Where Keith Law hit the nail on the head was his point about sending the wrong message. MLB and the NFL claim to be inclusive sports. They pay lip service to giving a shit about women and children.
Yet when there’s a domestic violence incident, they more or less prove through their actions that they give a fuck about nothing except the bottom line. “Can this player help our team win games?” If the answer is “yes,” then it doesn’t really matter what crime gets committed.
In football it’s almost unavoidable. With all the new information about concussions and CTE — and how many current and former players experience the same symptoms of war veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome — it shows how helpless the human mind can be after years and years of blunt force.
It’s why the NFL probably can’t continue as a sport for too much longer. Maybe 20 years? Maybe 30?
But that’s as far as I’ll allow myself to go to defend domestic violence. In the end it’s a choice. And it’s severely difficult for me to wrap my head around the idea that hitting a woman is ever justifiable. Maybe it’s how I was raised. Or maybe my head just hasn’t gone through enough punishment.
Baseball is not football. Baseball, more than any sport, is a thinking person’s game. Physicality helps, but it helps much less than in football, for instance. The culture in the locker room of a 53-man NFL team is far more primitive, much like you would imagine a boot camp, or a war setting. Being the bigger, more dominant man, has value.
The Mets made a terrible decision to bring Jose Reyes back, and they made it because they have a void at 3rd base since David Wright underwent (most likely) season-ending surgery. They can’t pretend they care about women — since they have now proven they don’t — and they can’t pretend that setting a good example for kids is anything they strive for.
But we all know how this story plays out. Just like with Greg Hardy, or Ray Rice, or Adrian Peterson, somewhere out there exists some shill of a reporter or news publication that will launch a redemption campaign for Jose Reyes. And we’ll see the typical It Was Such A Huge Mistake But I’ve Learned From It, or That’s Not Really Who Jose Reyes Is articles pour through. That’s how the sports world operates. The better Reyes performs, the easier it will be to push across the message that he’s a changed man.
However, there isn’t any changing what happened. He choked out his wife. He threw her into a glass door at a Four Seasons in Hawaii. That really happened.
Some people may not care. Others, like me, won’t ever forget.
This is not a case of These Are The Facts, You Decide For Yourself. The facts matter. The way we feel about it should matter.