Sunday, April 21, 2013

More Signs of the End Times, Part II

Watch this video:

That is Luis Suarez--currently playing for Liverpool in the English Premier League--sinking his teeth into the arm of Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic during today's match in Liverpool.

Suarez in not some nothing player, for those unfamiliar with the sport and the EPL. He's a world-class striker from Uruguay who earns millions of pounds (£6.24 million for the current season) to play football (soccer). Liverpool payed his former club--Ajax in Amsterdam--£22.8 million for his contract, at the time a record signing for Liverpool. And Suarez has delivered. He is a brilliant player, as capable as most any others currently playing the game. He leads the EPL in goals this season and has tallied quite a few in international competitions, as well.

But he's also no stranger to controversy, being something of a magnet for yellow cards, a frequent diver, and having been suspended in the Dutch league for biting another player in 2010.

The question is, why bite Ivanovic, or anyone else for that matter? Suarez doesn't do it because Ivanovic's arm was just there, Suarez purposefully grabs Ivanovic's arm and then goes after it with his mouth. It is, of course, reminiscent of Mike Tyson's infamous biting attack on Evander Holyfield in round three of their rematch in 1997. Some argued the attack was planned by Tyson from the get-go, as a means of getting paid and cementing his reputation as a ruthless competitor, since he didn't believe he could actually win the fight. Some actually defended Tyson, arguing that he was getting "picked on" by his critics.

But once upon a time, a little birdie told me (this is a story I cannot confirm) that Tyson had wagered a huge sum of money--all he could scrape together; he was in dire financial straits at the time--on himself to win by knockout before the end of the third round. As it became apparent this wouldn't happen, Tyson's frustration level went through the roof, metaphorically speaking. And he literally "lost it," trying to end the fight by any means possible.

Frustration, that's the key I think. It was frustration that drove Suarez to bite another player just as it was frustration that drove Tyson. And biting in response to frustration is very much a common response. Among toddlers.

But these men are not toddlers. In theory, at least.

Tyson's boxing career should have ended after that second Holyfield fight, in my opinion. But it didn't. He continued to fight, to receive big paydays, and to enrich his promoters. Or perhaps it would be better to call them "enablers," for that is what they were.

What about Suarez? It remains to be seen if he will receive any punishment for this latest incident. Some commentators are calling for his expulsion from Liverpool and the EPL. I think that's a good start. But I also think it's not going to happen. He'll be suspended for a handful of games at best, but once he returns and scores his first goal, all will be forgiven by the great majority of his fans and everyone else.

We--as a society--continue to learn nothing from the past. People like Tyson and Suarez are tolerated, coddled, and even praised because of their athletic prowess, alone. But they're deeply flawed people who deserve far more scorn then they actually receive. And part of the reason for this is a general lack of expectations with regard to conduct, brought on by a stripping away of social controls in an effort to establish equality, absolute equality. It is another consequence of the destruction of hierarchy noted by Robert Kaplan in our modern world.

That doesn't sound good, I know. But it is what it is.

Cheers, all.

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