Who Cares About Jay Mariotti?

24Aug10

Jay Mariotti, a sportswriter who frequents ESPN, was arrested this Saturday (8/21/10) after a physical altercation with his girlfriend. The arrest has spawned an enormous outburst of reactions–a mixture of glee and disgust–both on and off the internet. You see, Mariotti, with a long-standing reputation of being critical of athletes with shady histories, is now quite the Mark Foley of domestic abuse. From blogs that cater to sports fans to big-name media sources like USA Today, everybody is rushing to Google all the old Mariotti quotes like this one:

“A domestic abuser is not a hero in any arena. When a group of crude, drunken fans in Boston taunted him with chants of “Wife Beater! Wife Beater!” last week, I felt bad that Kidd’s wife, Joumana, and the couple’s 3-year-old son, T.J., had to endure such courtside harassment. Victims of violence shouldn’t be subjected to cruel reminders.”
(Sports by Brooks)

Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated comments, “There is schadenfreude and then there is frothing-out-of-the-mouth with bloodthirsty delight”. The Mariotti case has had the whole deal–Twitter orgies, blog wars, and much muffled giggling from the comments section of USA Today. Sportswriters, athletes, and fans alike have rushed to laugh at the uncovered hypocrite, practically celebrating that the sanctimonious critic is, after all these years, just another jerk on ESPN. And he probably deserves it, of course, no less than Foley, Spitzer, Craig… the whole lot, really.

But in midst of all this revelry, how did we miss the fact that a woman has been hurt, physically and likely emotionally as well? The vast majority of the reporting have focused on the history of Jay Mariotti’s career and reputation, leaving little room for the victim. We do not know what really happened or why Mariotti did what he did, but what we do know is that there are precious few men who hit their girlfriend or wife once and only once. Somewhere between the silly string and the party music, the suffering and confusion that likely plagued this woman, and perhaps others before her, have been unashamedly ignored in steadfast insensitivity. Are we not the same crowd that he rightfully criticized in that quote above?

The WSJ article gave her one line. Most gave none.

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