Web-exclusive Sports Column: Tragedy shocks Arrowhead

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By Mac Moore

In the early morning hours of Dec. 1, Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot his girlfriend to death, the mother of his 3-month-old child, at their Kansas City home. Belcher then went to the Chiefs’ practice facility where he was confronted by the head coach, the general manager, and the linebackers coach. When the police arrived, Belcher turned the gun on himself, taking his own life.

Life is tough. We are all constantly faced with making choices, constantly filled with emotions that stem from not only our decisions but also the decisions of others. The ability to cope with the hailstorm of life-denting interactions is where many of us differ. We have different support systems, different chemical balances in the brain, different life experiences that shape the lens we use to view the world.

Dissecting what would lead a man to take the life of his significant other and then his own is very complicated and nuanced. The discussion of depression always comes up in tragedies involving suicide and the topic filled up Twitter feeds after the incident. Early indications, however, would suggest that the suicide was likely a decision made in reaction to the murder. That said, I would also suggest that anybody who shot the mother of their 3-month-old baby couldn’t have been in the right state of mind.

Former Kansas City Star reporter Jason Whitlock quickly shifted the argument toward gun control. His sentiment was echoed by Bob Costas during the halftime show of the Sunday night game. This gathered the national attention on that aspect of the tragedy. Without missing a beat, the pro-/anti-Second Amendment voices filled the social consciousness. Local news filled up Monday’s coverage with whatever gun-related story they could find. Soon, we will question whether the effects of football on the brain, including concussions, led to this situation.

It should not be so predictable. This unforeseen tragedy should not stop being shocking within hours. The reporters knew the timeline. As they waited for the police to officially release the details, they started the circular coverage. The public was asked, “Should the Chiefs play this game on Sunday?”

For a second I almost bought in. Quickly I remembered: of course they are going to play. Sept. 11, 2001 stopped football; nothing else. Obviously the decision would immediately be second-guessed. The Chiefs’ victory could not be scripted, except that the glory stories were already written just in case. So we enjoy the positive outcome in the face of an epic heartbreak; afterward we will find any way to lay the blame for this tragedy. Then we will move on with our day.

It is crazy, but it is the truth. It became routine so quickly that all it worked at doing was adding one more mind-numbing event to our psyche. The coverage should have stopped where it began. A 25-year-old male killed his 22-year-old girlfriend before taking his own life. The couple was survived by a 3-month-old child.

As a society we have to respond to that event in a productive manner without speculation on various topics diluting the tragedy. The Chiefs have already started a fund for the little girl, Zoey. Hopefully they follow through and make sure the girl gets a happy home, whether that is with a relative, etcetera. Everything else is irrelevant right now.

Contact Mac Moore, sports editor, at mmoore82@jccc.edu.

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