By Mike Ulmer
It’s all a misunderstanding, this thing between Baltimore pitcher Scott Erickson and his girlfriend, Lisa Ortiz.
Yes, Erickson did physically throw Ortez out of his apartment but “nothing happened,” he said yesterday.
“It was pretty much a situation where they (police) had to do something and it just got blown out of proportion. No harm done.”
Baltimore police demur. Something about their claim that he threw her onto the floor of an elevator.
Scott Erickson is wrong. There is plenty of harm done.
The treatment of women by athletes is the biggest epidemic troubling professional sports.
Worse than drugs. Worse than gambling. Worse than steroids.
You can make an argument that drug abuse and gambling are victimless crimes, or at least, that harm is limited to the athlete himself. Not so for violence against women.
For all the macho postering favoured by the athletics industry, one central truth has been obscured.
Men who hit women are cowards.
But somewhere, in the hail of misogynist rap music and “thrillers” in which women are randomly terrorized, we have been stripped of sensibility.
It’s time to get it back. And what better way than to come down — hard — on the figures whose every move is aped by impressionable young boys.
If indeed it is established that Allen Iverson physically threw his wife, Tawanna, out the front door of their home and then went searching for her with a gun, NBA commissioner David Stern has a conundrum far greater than the minor skirmish that surrounded claims of Michael Jordan’s gambling.
Stern has the power to suspend Iverson. He has the same option in dealing with Glenn Robinson of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was arrested after what police say was a violent confrontation with an ex-girlfriend.
Heavy suspensions are long past due.
Same deal with Erickson.
Professional sports has a shameful sliding scale of offences for the people who play for pay.
A book on the criminal lives of NFL players estimated that 21% of NFL players have been arrested. Not convicted, just arrested. Much of that damage has been inflicted on women.
NFL players, of course, set a new standard for the brutality of women thanks to Rae Carruth’s orchestrated murder of his pregnant girlfriend.
Among the NFL players accused of assaulting wives and girlfriends over the past decade: Harvey Martin (Dallas), Carwell Gardner (Buffalo), Mark Gastineau (New York Jets), Patrick Bates, (Atlanta), Erik Williams (Dallas), Andre Rison (Atlanta), Rod Smith (Denver) and Warren Moon (Minnesota), Likewise, baseball is well stocked thanks to Darryl Strawberry (Mets and Yankees), Pedro Astacio (Colorado), Wil Cordero (Boston), Jose Canseco (Oakland), Jose Mesa (Cleveland) and Armando Benitez (Mets).
Among those NBA players accused of beating women: Michael Cooper (Los Angeles Lakers), Roy Tarpley (Dallas), Olden Polynice (Detroit), Marcus Webb (Detroit), Leon Smith (Dallas) and Alvin Robertson (Toronto, among others).
Hockey has not been spared high profile cases. Patrick Roy drew headlines last year when police were called after a heated argument with his wife.
Prosecutors declined to charge then-Windsor Spitfires defenceman Ed Jovanovski after a sexual assault complaint in 1995.
Five years ago, Dallas Stars’ Todd Harvey and Grant Marshall had their sexual assault charges dropped.
In 1997, Sean and Leslie Burke agreed to family counselling after Burke pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault.
Now, David Stern has a chance to strike a blow for common sense. Let’s hope he carries the ball.