Thursday, January 4, 2007

Darrent Williams: Don't blame the lifestyle

Hope all had an enjoyable New Years. Before discussing more recent events, I would like to briefly touch on the fatal shooting of Darrent Williams of the Denver Broncos.

So who is to blame when history repeats itself?

As we mourn the fatal shooting of Denver Broncos CB Darrent Williams, we will hear plenty of similarities between Williams' murder and the killing of Tupac Shakur over 10 years ago. Yes, in both cases the victim was killed as a result of a drive-by shooting after a night club party. Yes, both were taken too young by a mix of bad tempers and firearms. However, there is another comparison here that unfortunately few, if any, media personalities will make. In 1978, California Angels outfielder Lyman Bostock was shot and killed during a visit to his uncle in Gary, Indiana. According to his Wikipedia entry, Bostock was sitting in the back seat of his uncle's car when another car pulled up along side them at a traffic intersection. The driver of the second car got out and fired one blast of a .410 caliber shotgun into the back seat, hitting Bostock. Bostock died two hours later. Unfortunately, the gunman's target was not the Angels outfielder but the gunman's estranged wife, who was along with the group as a guest of Bostock's uncle.

Of course, it is easier to associate Williams' death with that of Tupac than with Lyman Bostock's death nearly 30 years ago. It makes for better press and it is much easier to vilify the rap/urban culture than to look at the deeper reason behind why people resort to murder to settle their problems.

Whether Bostock or Williams were targets or accidental victims, this pattern of tragic events only reflects the violence in our society. From images of Donald Trump's riches to videos of "pimped-out" trucks with shiny accessories, we have grown more materialistic as a people and the difference between our "haves" and our "have-nots" has grown at a nearly unprecedented rate. So combine the accidents of Williams and Bostock with the notion of the athlete as a high-income target, growing materialism, and the hope of athletes to spend time in increasingly dangerous areas and the trend of violence should continue unabated.

Hopefully we can stop this mindless violence involving athletes before the headline incidents that have occurred in South America become a reality in the U.S. More athletes need to heed the warnings of their respective employers and minimize their potential for violence by keeping a low profile, walking away, or avoiding dangerous areas. If a change in financial status and employment responsibilities means not hanging around former stomping grounds anymore, so be it. And if sports franchises are not warning their employees, from their performers on the field to their concessionaires, about unsafe areas, shame on them. Athletes especially should be reminded constantly that as long as their average salaries remain so drastically higher than the average U.S. worker, they, along with other "haves", will continue to be targeted, with murder often being a sad consequence.

Unfortunately, I am sure Williams' death will be blamed more on the culture to which his vehicle, his lifestyle, or even his skin color are associated than the fact that this sort of horrible violence has and will continue to occur as long as people choose to increase their income or settle their disputes with the pull of a trigger. It's not the gun, the music, the gold, or the neighborhoods. It's us.

Increase the peace and be safe out there.

- Jordi

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