clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Semyon Varlamov is the latest example of society dismissing crimes committed by athletes

Another high-profile figure in sports and entertainment is accused of a serious transgression against another human being. Yet to some, the violation is less a concern than playing-stats and how it affects the accused career.

Doug Pensinger

A shockwave ran through the National Hockey League late in October when Colorado Avalanche starting goaltender Semyon Varlamov was arrested on multiple violent charges including misdemeanor kidnapping and a misdemeanor assault charge involving an altercation he had with his girlfriend Evgeniya Vavrinyuk.

Without surprise, Varlamov posted bail hours after his arrest and was officially charged with a Class 1 Misdemeanor assault charge on Nov 22. The kidnapping charges were dropped due to lack of evidence. Varlamov is due back in court on Dec. 2.

Initially, seeing Varlamov's mug shot was both frightening and shocking. It isn't every day that a high-profile NHL player is arrested and the against him (or any other professional athlete are this steep.)

There are so many questions here that surround Varlamov's future; will the goaltender face jail time? For the crime he is charged with, Varlamov faces a maximum two-year sentence in a county jail. If he doesn't go to jail what will his punishment be (if anything)? Will the incident and legal proceedings tied to it have any affect on his play, or his availability for the Russian National mens ice hockey team in the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia? The NHL has already announced it will not make any decisions until everything more details are sorted out with this case.

Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, commissioner Gary Bettman has the ability to suspend any player who is involved in a criminal investigation. The NHL could have been proactive and could have set an example for other leagues dealing with athletes that find themselves in criminal cases. Or, the other side of it could be that the NHL does not have enough information to make a decision. Regardless, the state of Colorado does and that should be enough for the league to make the right decision.

So much has been made about the suspect in this case and not the victim. Of course it has, because the suspect is a pro-athlete. How easily we forget the rap sheet of the people who entertain us night in and night out. Let's talk about what should be discussed, Vavrinyuk, her well-being, and the crime of abuse and domestic violence.

Some fans decide to turn a blind eye to this situation completely, treating it like an injury or some other complication ("poor guy," "hope it call clears up okay") which is absurd. This is a situation where a game needs to become just that...a "game," and the important things in life need to take precedence.

For those ignoring what Varlamov is accused of, just read the arrest affidavit. It would hopefully make any human being with feelings cringe and feel some rage of their own towards the goaltender who allegedly kicked down his girlfriend, stomped on her repeatedly before grabbing her by her hair and then dragged on the floor.

Still, a month after his arrest, most of the focus surrounds Varlamov's future. Since Varlamov faces a maximum two-year sentence, his judge could pursue a plea deal given the risk of Varlamov facing jail time. Without a plea deal, Varlamov will have to face a jury.

There has been enough glorification of athletes and hasn't everyone had enough of the complete turn-the-cheek, "just win, baby" attitude toward what they do in their person lives? In a mediated era where clichés and lies are becoming a regular part of the sporting landscape, the truth should finally be what matters instead of getting the high paid athlete out of their own problems they caused for themselves.

Enough is enough.

Cheeks are also turned to the crime of domestic violence. There are hotlines and other resources for dealing with these issues, but, there isn't enough exposure to a crime that is not only running rampant in the United States, but worldwide. Domestic abuse and domestic violence is at a stealth epidemic that's all too often accepted and dismissed as part of culture.

Statistics regarding domestic violence are as scary as the crimes themselves and most people probably don't even know how staggering they even are. According to the United States Department of Justice, 960,000 acts of domestic violence are reported each year. Only 25 % of domestic violence cases are even reported to law enforcement though! Oh, and 85% of domestic violence victims are women. What is really disturbing is that one in these three women will experience domestic violence by their partner or by someone they know. Another disturbing stat, 60 percent of these domestic violence crimes happen at home.

Realize that the 960,000 number is only 75% of how many domestic violence related crimes are reported. Just think of what the victims in all of these cases are going through - the feelings of intimidation and betrayal from someone they love, the violations of trust and being rid of a sense of personal security. They are literally nameless and lost in a sense of helplessness.

Imagine getting physically assaulted by your significant other, the person who is supposed to care about you that you have given your heart and trust to. Blow by blow, you begin to wonder who this person is that you thought you knew. Bruise by bruise, you get lost in the lies and the stories you have told co-workers and friends in order to cover for the crime and lock away feelings of guilt and shame.

That might be hard to imagine for someone who hasn't experienced that situation themselves. But doesn't it change your mind on anyone who is guilty of this crime, even if they happen to be a pro-athlete?