In the last month, two famous athletes have come under close media scrutiny for alleged acts of violence toward women.
Most notably, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old college student in a bar in Milledgeville, Ga.
No criminal charges have been filed against Roethlisberger but according to league sources on ESPN.com, he faces a six game suspension as well as a clinical evaluation. This isn't the first time he's been accused of sexual crimes against a woman. Currently, a civil suit is underway in Nevada stemming from a 2008 accusation that he raped a casino employee.
The second incident may not have gotten as much press in the United States, but is even more disturbing. Venezuelan boxing champion Edwin Valero reportedly stabbed his wife to death in a hotel room and then hung himself in his jail cell just hours after being arrested.
He was widely admired throughout the boxing community for his prowess as a fighter, having recorded 27 wins, all by knockout. Known as "El Dinamita" or "Dynamite," Valero was the former World Boxing Council lightweight champion but recently had been dogged by allegations of drug and alcohol abuse.
Much like Roethlisberger, Valero had a history of accusations of violence toward women, particularly his wife. In March, Valero was charged with harassing his wife and threatening medical personnel who treated her at a hospital in Merida, Venezuela. He was arrested for arguing with a doctor and nurse at the hospital, where his wife was being treated for injuries including a punctured lung and broken ribs.
Each case leaves behind far too many unanswered questions, but the main one is why didn't anyone step in and intervene earlier? Where were these athletes' friends, managers and most of all, their consciences?
In Big Ben's case, we may never know exactly what happened in a dingy Georgia bathroom. The combination of alcohol, secrecy and a lack of a trial will cause that incident to remain hazy in both the memory of those involved and in the eyes of the public.
The most disturbing fact about this whole case is not that Roethlisberger was once again accused of being a sleazy predator who feels entitled to take whatever he pleases, but the words he said to the media afterwards. After stumbling over a half-hearted apology to the usual suspects, (fans, team, owners, etc.) he uttered this: "I'm happy to put this behind me and move forward."
What right does he have to be happy about this incident, resulting in a further tarnished public image, humiliation and loss of income? What right does he have to put this incident behind him? You can guarantee that the accuser won't be putting this behind her anytime soon.
Roethlisberger should've come out and said, "I'm immature, I acted irresponsibly. I need to change my ways and work towards becoming a better person. While I believe this accusation to be a misrepresentation of the truth, I will work diligently towards making sure that I never put myself in a situation like this again."
Instead he claimed to work on becoming a role model for kids. Who in their right mind would allow their children to emulate this person? Instead, he should be held up as an example of a spoiled, entitled athlete unable to maturely handle the burden of his fame and fortune.
As for Valero's case, this tragedy has a sadder side. This dynamic young boxer, who captured the hearts of many Venezuelans through his Incan heritage and large tattoo of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez emblazoned over a Venezuelan flag on his chest, slowly seemed to disintegrate into mental instability. He reportedly spent some time in a psychiatric ward but despite being sentenced to six months, he was released after a weekend.
While it takes a certain level of madness to fight with the fury and absorb the punishment that a world-class fighter such as Valero did, assault and murder take things to a whole new level, indicating much deeper problems than an affinity for demolishing opponents.
It's hard to criticize an unfortunate situation such as this, but Valero obviously was sick. Whether it was depression, some sort of substance-related incident or simply a case of a man losing control, none of these excuse his actions. Perhaps they explain or mitigate it, but there is no reason that excuses a trained boxer for beating on his wife.
Cases like this make you stop and wonder what causes such degradation and inhumane behavior. Why don't athletes have more people around them who can tell them that they need to step back and think, that maybe they need help? It just shows you that the higher you put someone on a pedestal the further and harder they can fall.