Boris Becker, Don King, Javier Mascherano have all been convicted for different crimes. It made Global news with Oscar Pistorius, 26, accused of allegedly shooting his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, to death at his home in Pretoria, South Africa on Valentine's Day. In more recent years, well-known sports figures have been convicted of serious crimes, from ex-heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson (rape, road rage) to NFL quarterback Michael Vick (dog fighting) to former Penn State defensive coach Jerry Sandusky (child sex abuse).
I am neither a Crime profiler nor a Crime Behaviour analyst. I don't know why some athletes turn into hardened criminals, but I am guessing it has something to do with wanting to be rich, being familiar with hardcore training conditions and equipped with an army of enablers along with tons of free time. Sounds like a recipe for disaster to some and, simultaneously, like a pretty awesome lifestyle to others.
Many athletes do amazing things with the opportunities a career in sports offered to them. But some blow their fame & career’s earnings while a few ruin their lives.
While changing Sports Uniform/Kits is one of most common routine for Athletes but for the ones convicted of crimes, it can be very indifferent as in changing to prison jumpsuits.
Sports, crime and money have long been intertwined. Closer to home, the recent encounter killing of gangster Vickey Gounder, who was once a national level discus thrower, is not an isolated case of a sportsperson turning to crime. Paan Singh Tomar, a runner turned dacoit, the famous spot Fixing of Sreesanth, other Fixing scandals of cricket or the recent ‘Goonga Pahelwan’ clan of Gangsters. And not to forget the ‘use of Wrestlers & bodybuilders’ as musclemen on election campaign duties. I do highlight that all these people are innocent until proved guilty. The numbers of instances are ever increasing.
The lure of easy money, the illegal job market’s demand for musclemen and glorification of criminals through movies or popular culture (songs) have all contributed to the drift of some Sports persons and Athletes towards crime.
The number of cases raises the question: Does the aggression needed to excel at sports' highest level lead to reckless, even criminal behavior? Or are we just hearing more about this alleged crime wave in sports because of the 24/7 news cycle and rise of social media? Or do their alleged transgressions just get more publicity because they're sports persons? Hard to say.
But I must share another interesting fact that in our country where International Sports Medals are a rarity, whenever we get some, the people including governments tend to over-do on ‘prize bonus’. With a Commonwealth Games medallist getting upto ₹1.5 Crores or more ($200k), whereas similar Medal winners in UK or Australia would get just ₹20 lacs ($30k) or less. Infact some other countries could paying even higher bonuses for Sports Winners.
In wake of promotion of Sports, this may be the right step but perhaps it could create desperation & overzealousness in some young athletes.
So take the overweening ambition of some athletes, mix it with our growing obsession with Winners in Sports events, and it's no wonder we could be producing a breed of self-entitled "monsters" who think they're above the law.
But is the Right or wrong is not meant for them? Can they do whatever they want because they're so special?