Stan Collymore is a cunt (allegedly). I say that without a lawyer present. Despite being accused, though not charged, with domestic violence he got on his high horse a few years later asking people not to call him a ‘wife beater’. They could complain to his employers TalkSport instead and get him off the air if they hated him so much. This man, despite having punched a woman in the face, received no reprimand. Nothing.
We recently saw the League Managers Association backtracking on racist and sexist texts they called banter. I personally think that looking through someone’s personal texts is a little underhand and doesn’t take into account the relationship between two people. Imagine Lenny Bruce’s twitter account if he was still about? That would be a whole different use of the terms we shy away from. To brush it off as banter, though, shows that those in staid old football boardrooms really don’t have a clue about decency.
My ire is of course bent out of all proportion at the latest domestic violence story to rock sport; that of Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens. That’s American Football to us limeys. He punched his fiancée in the face. Then dragged her out of a lift, unconscious. What awful things would rain down on him?
No charges were pressed and the team (and NFL) gave him a tap on the wrist. The Ravens even included an apology from the woman for her part in the affair. “I’m sorry I made you punch me.” He apologised to the team and fans (not her) and it seemed to be filed away as meaningless.
Then, some weeks later, the video emerged. What can be seen is fairly shocking; he punches her hard, knocking her clean out. Now all of a sudden he is banned indefinitely and the world is in uproar. Reporters are shocked. Really? He knocked someone out! There’s video!
In other words, bruises and the words of a battered woman (or bystanders) mean very little without the gory imagery. If you can persuade her to deal with it for the greater good, then fine. He can get away with it. “That’s the power of video” one tweet replied to me, after I went on a rampage at anyone that exclaimed “wow” to the NFL response. So I’d better make sure I am recorded everywhere I go then, just in case?
No, Mr Tweeter, no. It shows the power of rich people to make domestic violence seem minor. If you can’t see the damage actually happening, then it was probably nothing. Just persuade her to look loving and make people believe she asked for it.
Meanwhile, other players are banned for smoking a spliff, not because it enhances performance but because it breaches the personal conduct laws of the NFL. Cannabis…bad. Smashing up someone’s face…acceptable. It’s all for the greater glory. Show me the money!
It appals me that we still live in a society where domestic violence can so easily be excused or forgotten, especially in sports people. These are not golden gods, they’re humans who happen to have the ability to run or jump a wee bit faster or higher than the rest of us.
I remember the bruises on Ulrika Johnson’s face after the incident with Collymore. It was as shocking as the video of Ray Rice is now. Both are evidence of nasty spoilt bastards with no control over their anger. The press after the Ulrika attack no doubt gave Stan a kick up the arse and yet the NFL’s original response was almost to reward a star player to do it again, and again. Many fans were complicit in the cover up, preferring to think of their fantasy football teams.
The NFL is no stranger to violence, even murder. Their initial response shows exactly how things can escalate. All I can hope is that his now wife finds the courage to get out of Dodge before she is blamed for his fall from grace.
Domestic violence has spent too long being pushed under the carpet. Injuries and the description of an event should be enough evidence to kick these fuckers up the arse. The sooner sport’s overarching bodies wise up and clean up, the sooner you can really hold up your stars as role models.