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Sports personalities and public violence

I am very pleased to read that Jesse Ryder seems to be getting better after being assaulted a few days ago in Christchurch. Hopefully he will make a full recovery and will be able to play cricket again in the future.

A former teammate of mine in the Australian team, David Hookes, died from a similar attack outside a nightclub in Melbourne a number of years ago.

Unfortunately we read all too often about violence involving athletes across the different sports. These incidents vary in degree of severity and intensity, but they are all regrettable. During my career as a professional player that spanned 25 years I experienced first-hand on a number of occasions these sorts of issues.

There are of course those sportsmen who are the aggressors and cause the problems. They are generally bullies and when things turn nasty have no one to blame but themselves.

However, for your normal athlete who wants to go out and have a good time the question is can these problems be avoided? Generally yes, but not all the time. I always say that nothing good happens after midnight when, as a sportsman, one is out and about in the wrong places. Clearly as a sporting celebrity the chances of having problems of a physical nature increase if the establishment one frequents lends itself to that kind of behaviour. Alcohol is normally a contributing factor.

There are normally warning signs as well. The sensible approach when one realises that trouble is in the air is to simply leave. This is sometimes easier said than done. Sport being what it is often means that at a young age testosterone and adrenaline take over and the way of least resistance goes out the window.

It is also true that a sportsman is as entitled as anyone else to have a good time and should not be subjected to needle, abuse or ridicule by members of the general public.

The unprovoked attack is the one to be most concerned about. This can happen out of the blue and, worst of all, when family are present as well.

This problem is not going to go away. It remains part and parcel of being a sporting personality in a violent society. The only way to stay safe in this sense is to be sensible, vigilant and circumspect in determining where and when to have fun. This applies in particular to post-match celebrations or socialising. This is the most likely time when problems ensue.

It is pretty sad that things have come to this. I guess one way to improve matters is for sportsmen to be responsible and take due care in their behaviour to the public and for the public themselves to respect the privacy of individuals who want to relax after a stressful competition. In a perfect world, maybe!!!

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