Generally, the public might think issues of domestic violence are more associated with a violent sport like football, but recently NASCAR driver Kurt Busch was suspended indefinitely by the sport for an incident involving a physical altercation with his girlfriend. In the last year, domestic violence has been thrust into the spotlight by the cases of Ray Rice (punching his then-fiancée and pulling her unconscious out of an elevator) and Adrian Peterson (striking his 4 year old child with a piece of wood) which challenged the NFL to take a long look at its player discipline where domestic violence is concerned.
Major League Baseball (MLB) addressed the issue this week holding a domestic violence training session for their players. Athletes may have resources beyond those of non-athletes to get help for their issues, but it is obvious situations can escalate unexpectedly. Baseball is certainly hoping by getting ahead of the issue through training, they can try to prevent these issues from happening in their sport.
Baseball fans might remember the case of gorgeous actress Tawny Kitaen’s arrest for domestic violence of six foot six lefthanded pitcher, 200 game winner Chuck Finley, during a bitter divorce and custody battle between the two in 2002. At the time, the focus seemed to be not on the issue itself but the fact of a man filing against a woman which prompted an ESPN article which was a misguided attempt at humor which probably could not be published in today’s climate of awareness. Today, it is likely no one would dare to publish a piece with such sophomoric humor.
League-wide, MLB is instituting this domestic violence training. The goal is prevention initially and treatment of situations on a case by case basis. As the season begins, as teams have larger numbers of players and staff together, MLB is trying to avoid the public relations nightmare of dealing with its star players and off the field issues and vulnerable people in danger rather than the game on the field. Baseball fans can only hope there won’t be more Busch, Peterson, and Rice cases, so fans can focus on the game they love rather than the misdeeds of its athletes.