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Sports' Dirty Secret
William Nack
July 31, 1995
When scarcely a week passes without an athlete being accused of domestic violence, it is no longer possible to look the other way
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July 31, 1995

Sports' Dirty Secret

When scarcely a week passes without an athlete being accused of domestic violence, it is no longer possible to look the other way

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For years battering was perceived not as a criminal matter, like mugging and armed robbery, but as a phenomenon that belonged in the intimate realm of the hearth, like making love or Christmas cookies. The only time the subject came up was in the old beat-your-wife line. So after the Philadelphia 76ers barely defeated the New Jersey Nets on Nov. 3, 1990, the Sixers' Charles Barkley said, "This is a game that, if you lose, you go home and beat your wife and kids." And even that paragon, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, said, after his team lost 17-14 to Texas on Sept. 8, 1990, "I'm going to go home and beat my wife."

Though Saad once viewed domestic violence as a fact of life, as a link in the natural chain of things, she began to see things differently a year ago. "That was when I first saw myself as a battered woman," she says. "I didn't begin to understand this until I saw Robert as a victim. This was something he learned from somebody before him. He never got help. I think a lot of famous men are afraid to come out of the closet and say, 'I have this problem.' Once I saw Robert as a victim, too, I was able to forgive him. And I have."

Felicia Moon was silent on the matter of forgiveness. Her pain was, perhaps, too fresh to swab with charity. At the Moons' press conference, no one ventured to explain what happened on July 18—what could move a seven-year-old to call 911—but when it came her turn to speak, Felicia left no doubt as to the fear she felt. She is a former board member of the Fort Bend County Women's Center, which runs a shelter for battered women, and she knows the stubborn nature of domestic violence. Reading from notes written in pencil, she said she was feeling better about her husband since the incident: "After many hours of prayer, tears and consultations with my husband, I feel safe in his presence."

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