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Sports fans must say no to domestic abusers

Sports fans must say no to domestic abusers

A 20-something guy sometimes lives with his parents down the street from my house, and he has no problem pushing and hitting his girlfriend.

Everybody on the block has seen it multiple times.

He’s had screaming and shoving matches in the middle of the street at all hours of the day and night, and they seem to get a little worse each time.

While I was out of town for the Tech-Rocky football game, my wife and children watched — along with the couple’s 4-year-old daughter — as he pushed the woman to the ground in the middle of the street. They all watched in horror as he threw multiple punches, landing a few.

My wife called the police, like I and others on the block have done several times over the last couple of years.

The couple’s daughter told us once that her mom was in the hospital because her dad pushed her. Still, no charges were filed.

Somehow, he or his girlfriend always disappear around the corner on one side of the block just as the police turn the corner on the other.

Even though the police have been called to his fights more than a half dozen times in less than two years, this neighbor has not been arrested once. He wasn’t even arrested when he screamed the worst words possible at his girlfriend while standing in the middle of the street at 1:30 a.m., waking up everybody on the block.

Presumably, the lack of arrests are because the woman does not cooperate with police. She certainly isn’t the one calling them. So, the abuse goes on.

It is a sad and disturbing situation that unfortunately is all too common in our society. Most people have witnessed such a scene and felt the same hopeless feeling.

As I watched Aroldis Chapman pitch in the World Series, I couldn’t help but think about the violent scenes my kids have watch from our front porch.

A year ago, police were called to Chapman’s house for a similar violent scene. The pitcher’s girlfriend told police that he choked her, pushed her against the wall, and fired a gun eight times in his garage.

Police investigated, and they determined there was insufficient evidence to press charges against the flame-throwing closer. That came even after Chapman admitted to shooting his gun.

Apparently the police got no cooperation from witnesses, including the woman.

You could blame the player not getting charged on fame and fortune. Of course, the guy down the street from me gets away with it every time, and he’s a cashier at a convenience store. So there goes that theory.

Professional athlete or not, too many guys get away with domestic violence.

The Chapman incident led to the Los Angeles Dodgers backing out of a trade for the pitcher from the Cincinnati Reds. A couple weeks later, though, the New York Yankees had no problem and traded for Chapman, even though Major League Baseball suspended him for the first 30 games of the season.

Apparently a 103 mph fastball trumps a choke hold.

Then, the Yankees traded Chapman to the Cubs in July, and it was Chicago’s turn to look the other way.

This isn’t to pick on the Cubs or take away from their first World Series title in 108 years. Almost every sports team has employed a domestic abuser or other despicable characters over the years. The Dallas Cowboys have made a living on such players.

As long as the player helps the team win games, fans look past his ill deeds.

So, Cubs fans who ruined the life of a fan who tried to catch a foul ball during the 2003 National League Championship Series, gave Chapman a hero’s welcome every time he took the mound.

This isn’t even to just pick on Chapman, who might be telling the truth when he says he merely poked the woman in the shoulder.

For years, many have wondered why sports fans still cheer for players who have been accused of or convicted of domestic abuse or worse. The list of such players goes on and on.

Sure, the tide has changed a little bit, thanks to the Ray Rice situation, but it hasn’t changed nearly enough.

Rice, remember, has basically been banned from the NFL because he knocked out his then-fiancé with a vicious punch in a hotel elevator.

At first, though, the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell simply slapped Rice on the wrist with a two-game suspension after a video came out showing Rice dragging the unconscious woman off the elevator.

When TMZ uncovered the video of him actually punching the woman in the elevator, Goodell gave into public pressure and extended the suspension. It was as if the commissioner originally thought it was possible that the running back put the woman to sleep with a fairytale kiss.

Since, Rice has been unofficially blackballed from the league. Of course, if his yards per carry didn’t drop from 4.7 in 2011 to 3.1 in 2013, you can bet he would have gotten a second chance in front of some fan base with ethical amnesia.

It shouldn’t have to be said, but sports fans should have zero tolerance for so-called men who abuse women.

If a team doesn’t release a player known as a wife beater, then the fans should boo like the old lady on The Princess Bride every time he takes the field.

The announcers and writers should bring up the accusations every game.

When Chapman struck out his third batter of a game, Joe Buck should have said, “Geez, if Chapman strikes out five more batters he will match the number of gunshots he fired to intimidate his girlfriend.”

He should have said something similar every time Greg Hardy made a tackle for the Cowboys last year. Or on every Ezekiel Elliott carry for the Cowboys this year.

Fans and the media have to step up and tell these players enough is enough because the leagues and the teams clearly will not.

Maybe many fans have always looked the other way because they feel like they know the player who is on their TV every week, and the victim is a nameless stranger they don’t care about.

The next time a domestic violence in sports story breaks, and it will soon enough, think about the girl down the street who knows all too well what it is like to be the forgotten person in the story.

Picture the athlete as that guy punching her in the middle of your street.

Then maybe you’d think twice before looking the other way.

— Bill Foley writes a column that appears Tuesday on ButteSports.com. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74.



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