A tragedy happened in the sports world over the weekend. Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend and then turned to gun on himself, committing suicide in the parking lot of their practice facility.
This murder-suicide has sparked a new round of debate on gun control and the increasing number of gun-related deaths in this country. Even NBC’s Bob Costas weighed in during halftime of the Dallas Cowboys/Philadelphia Eagles game. He has gotten some criticism, mostly from people who say he should stick to commenting about sports and stay out of social issues and politics. But he is a citizen and he is entitled to his opinion. Just like everyone else.
Just like I am.
I’m not going to suggest that there should be stricter gun laws in this country or that all guns should be taken off the streets. I will leave that debate for others.
But this sad incident does bring up one question: Why are professional athletes so drawn to guns?
An internet search of “professional athlete” and “gun” yields over 11 million results. That’s a lot of reporting on gun-related incidents involving pro athletes.
Belcher is just the latest in a long line of athletes who have gotten in trouble with guns. Plaxico Burress shot himself at a New York City nightclub and went to jail. Jayson Williams accidentally shot and killed a limo driver in his home. Gilbert Arenas pulled a loaded handgun on a teammate in the locker room. The list goes on and on.
A lot of people say that these athletes come from poor, violent communities and that environment and mindset carries over to their professional lives. I’m not sure I buy that simply because there are many people who come out of the same environment and do not stockpile weapons like they are about to invade a small country.
Some say they carry guns for protection. This theory has a little more validity. These players are in the public eye and everybody knows how much money they are being paid and that makes them a target. Plus a lot of them like to flash how much they have and that makes them an even bigger target.
But if security is such a major concern they would be better served to hire a bodyguard. And I mean a real bodyguard, not one of their cousins or a friend from back home. Those kinds of guys cause more trouble than they are worth. They need a professional. Amateurs shouldn't be playing in the NFL and guns should be in the hands of trained professionals.
And then there are the cynics who say that these spoiled athletes think that they are above the law and can get away with anything. They are given special treatment because they can make a basket or hit a home run and they take advantage of that fact.
I think the answer is a mixture of all three theories with a heaping dose of ego and testosterone thrown in the mix. These guys are always in competition with each other on and off the field. Who has the biggest house or flashiest car? Who has the most jewelry? And sometimes leads to, who has the most guns?
They shouldn't look upon guns as a status symbol or as a measure of their manhood.
The love affair that these athletes have with guns has got to end. Not for the good of the game but for the safety of their lives. It is their lives and the lives of their families that are far more important than any game.