So a little while ago, I wrote a piece about whether or not we deserve better from our sporting heroes. The long and short of it was that on what seems like too many occasions, coaches, parents, clubs, sports organisations, the media – pretty much anyone and everyone – do far too much to protect athletes because, hey, they’re really good at running and jumping and kicking and stuff.
This week, League One football club, Sheffield United, signed Marlon King on a deal until the end of this 2013/14 season. Now if you don’t know who Marlon King is, here’s a brief description taken from an article in the telegraph from 2009…
“…since the age of 17 the Jamaica international had found himself in the dock on no less than seven previous occasions… drink driving and other motoring offences, and violence against women. Only one, receiving a stolen £30,000 BMW resulted in prison – 18 months reduced to nine on appeal.
“Apart from a couple of community penalties, he was invariably fined. The violence solely involved women, and included common assaults on two he chased through Soho with a belt wrapped round his fist in 2003. Three years later he was convicted of threatening behaviour after slapping another woman on her bottom and head and then spitting at her when police arrived.”
Yes, you read that right. A belt wrapped round his fist. I should also mention that the above was discussed during a court case that resulted in King being jailed for 18 months for groping a woman in a nightclub and breaking her nose after she told him to leave her alone. Nice chap.
Anyway, there are numerous examples of athletes who have done some, uh, how to put it… let’s say questionable things. I’m thinking, for example, Michael Vick and the whole dog fighting thing, or Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones and the whole… well, his whole career in fairness.
And there are several examples of athletes who have been hired/signed by teams after they’ve been involved in various scandals, with the justification being “you know, he might make dogs fight to the death and bet on it, but he’s got a really good arm”, or “well he might punch women in the face a lot, but he’ll definitely get us a few goals this season.”
Now I definitely believe in giving people second chances, but only when they actually deserve it and show at least a little contrition. And only when they stop punching people. Again it seems as though normal rules don’t apply in the world of sport.
So in a week where BBC Radio Sheffield reported a 40% increase in high risk domestic violence incidents in South Yorkshire, what do we make of Sheffield United’s decision to sign Marlon King?
Answers on postcard…
Actually, rather than a postcard, use the comments box below. It’d be great to hear your thought on this one.