Male Athletes and the Women Who Torment Them

One of the most interesting reporting experiences I ever had was attending a four-day seminar that the National Football League runs each year for its incoming rookies, trying to prepare them for life in (and after) the N.F.L. Not the football part, but the life part: handling money, staying away from bad influences, etc.

It soon emerged that, for a high-profile male athlete, one of the best perks was the availability of women (no surprise there). It also emerged that one of the greatest pitfalls facing such athletes was … the availability of women:

”The C.I.A. has nothing on a woman with a plan,” Irving Fryar tells the rookies. ”There are women who have a plan to trap you. It’s going to happen to somebody in this room.” Marcellus Wiley, a San Diego Chargers veteran, advocates ”keeping a stable” of women to avoid undue complications. ”You ugly?” Wiley says to the rookies. ”Don’t matter no more. Green, dog, it’s all about the green, and you got green. The root of ‘dating’ is ‘data,’ and that means you gotta find out some information on her.” In one of [life-skills coach] Zachary Minor’s staged scenes, a ballplayer recounts to a teammate the fight he just had with his girlfriend. ”She wanted me to hit her!” he screams. ”She wanted me to hit her!” Later, the Giants’ lineman Jeff Hatch reflected on the symposium’s teaching about women. ”If you came down from Mars and saw all this,” he said, ”you’d think that women were an evil, evil species.”

I thought of all this when two news items recently crept through the ether:

New Jersey Nets guard Jason Kidd is filing for divorce from his wife Joumana and filing for a temporary restraining order against her, claiming that Joumana has physically and emotionally abused him. This is a particularly complicated story in that Jason was once arrested for domestic violence against Joumana, and because Joumana has now countered that it was she who was abused.

Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr was allegedly the target of a $2 million extortion attempt by an 81-year-old woman in Texas who reportedly was threatening to “injure the reputation” of Starr by divulging an affair they’d had in 1960. In 1960!

Divorce and extortion cases like this are always ugly and almost always very, very murky. But based on what’s been made public so far, I’d say this:

Regarding Starr: I’m surprised that a 47-year-old liaison could be thought to be worth $2 million, and I don’t see how it could significantly damage Starr’s reputation other than perhaps upsetting his family.

Regarding Kidd: Given the macho code of the male locker room, I’d be astounded if Kidd would publicly assert that his wife beat him up unless there were some truth to it.

I am sure there are all kinds of potential motives and incentives I am missing here. And maybe I am gravely misinterpreting things because I am male.


valz

Don't women who murder their husbands however get MANY more years in jail (or death) than men who murder their wives/ girlfriends? Even though in most cases the man had abused the women for many years? I think from this angle it shows that society still accepts abuse/ violence in one direction but not the other.

any one know the stats?

IanM

"Regarding Kidd: Given the macho code of the male locker room, I'd be astounded if Kidd would publicly assert that his wife beat him up unless there were some truth to it."

In my student days I used to work security at events etc. While doing this it was more common to be assaulted by women than men. One day we sat down and tried to analyze this. We came to the conclusion that one of the main drivers of this was the intense cultural pressure not to use force against women (the security personnel were 90% male). We concluded that we used very different body language with women. With men we'd use body language that tried to say "I don't want a fight but if you insist I'm quite happy to satisfy your request for hospital food" whereas with women we used pure "I don't want a fight" body language. The relevence here is that probably 50% of our male staff had physiques you'd associate with, shall we say, a deterent to combat, something I'm sure that applies to the average NFL player.

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RJS

I'm thinking there's something wrong with our culture when we automatically assume guilt for the male parties involved in any domestic dispute. I've found myself knee-jerk defending the man when he's accused of beating his wife or raping someone. That means I'm inclined to think Kidd's wife is full of crap.

(Then again I did just read the Time Magazine story about that Duke Lacrosse player, so I could be feeling a little irritated from that...)

egretman

Yes! Women are totally out of control. That is clearly the case here in Texas and is the major reason why Texas was not #1 this year in football. Even the south is susceptible to this dire problem.

snubgodtoh

At the risk of sounding like a pansy, I think we are bordering misogyny here. With everything, it is important to analyze causal relationships closely.

TLG

A couple of places to look for an explanation:

1. The Violence Against Women Act of 1994, which makes women more "believable" than men in domestic violence incidents.

2. Availability of DNA testing. In the old days, an athlete could have an affair with a woman, and if she got pregnant, it was her tough luck. Now she can sue for a healthy percentage of the athlete's paycheck for child support. And it may not be luck - it may be intentional on the part of the woman.

snubgodtoh

A woman has the power to reduce the 99.5% effectiveness of a condom?

TLG

snubgodtoh Says:
"A woman has the power to reduce the 99.5% effectiveness of a condom?"

Yes, especially if she is intentionally trying to get pregnant.

egretman

Ok, then we are all in agreement? Forced sterilization.

abraxas

"..unless there were some truth to it."

or unless there were some financial benefit to be gained.

I suspect that a good percentage of the population will be sympathetic towards a celebrity accused, because of the huge relative potential gain by the accuser. Thus it is probably sound legal advice to reply to allegations of abuse with allegations of abuse.

Kind of like the Rovian brilliance in pre-countering allegations of service avoidance by attacking the service record of your opponent. People disbelieve both parties and don't pay any attention to the issue regardless of the evidence for either accusation.

snubgodtoh

Tit for tat, a very successful strategy in certain games. I think it was the winning algorithm in a large contest years back.

pkimelma

Yes, it is very common in such cases to counter-sue (counter-claim) the same charges (abuse in this case). This moves you from defending, to both being in an equal position. Since such cases are hard to prove or show, it becomes he-said/she-said and the courts tend to discount both. If only one makes such charges, then the accuser gets the benefit of the doubt. So, although I do not know who is lying (or perhaps they both abused each other), many divorce lawyers will counter-claim when the husband has made the accusation of abuse.

prosa

O.J. Simpson claimed that Nicole was physically abusive toward him.

egretman

OJ also didn't benefit from the helpful indocrination that Dubner shows that younger players now get. Imagine how the world would be different if OJ had been warned about abusive golddiggers.

elle

This article is depressing and while somewhat accurate, may just be part of the larger story. As this sort of thing happens to females too. Excuse me for citing Britney Spears as an example (not the physical abuse part, but the manipulative behavior). I guess I am dating myself. =)

The point: As I see it -- It isn't a gender specific reality. It is more human habit. In individualistic cultures anyway.

rvman

“A woman has the power to reduce the 99.5% effectiveness of a condom?”

Player uses condom, tosses in trash. He leaves/goes to the can/falls asleep. Woman pulls out of trash, reinserts, and squeezes contents into the desired location. Or

Player goes for condom, woman says 'use this one, it's ribbed, or flavored, or something'. He does. Unbeknownst to him, she has put a pinhole in it, to allow leakage.

Let's not forget that athletes aren't always the brightest bulbs in the room. They may fall for the old "I'm on the pill/cervical cap/Norplant," line.

We are sounding misogynistic, but what we are discussing are basically con artists. These exist in both genders, and love to prey on people with more dollars than sense, which is a pretty good description of the average 24 year old with a half-million per year contract. 'Friends', family, accountants, agents, 'personal trainers', etc. also play this game. Women just have a special advantage, because they can offer something 24 year old males tend to seek compulsively.

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wyattc

If I were a sports agent, the first thing I would have every client do is freeze his sperm and have a vasectomy. Because they are reversible now and not very invasive, I see no reason not to do this. In fact, I would encourage my son to do the same before going to college.

mr winston

this is what sports illustrated has to say about it...

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/basketball/nba/01/10/bc.bkn.kidd.maritalwoes.ap/index.html

jonksbargains

It's hard to apply logic to relationships.

egretman

It's hard to apply logic to relationships.

As we have surely proven.