Remember when athletes got in trouble for the usual tomfoolery and jackassery? You know, tawdry affairs, juicing, public intox, firearms violations and such.
Oh, there was the odd flying kung fu kick delivered here and there to the unsuspecting punk in the crowd. (Right, Eric Cantona? You showed that Selhurst Park meanie a thing or two, eh?)
Thing is, we came to understand how to deal with this stuff, what level of mea culpa was required and what punitive measure to mete out for restoration of public grace. Only now, it seems a whole new class of indiscretion has arrived.
I mean, frauds conducted on a global scale over a decade or more, wildly implausible fake girlfriend scandals, and now this: kicking ball boys in the stomach, for Pete’s sake!
What were you thinking, Eden Hazard?
So now the public must build a whole new set of guidelines and best practices, it seems, for dealing with hyper-disgraced athletes.
Personally, I don’t know what it might take to reclaim public trust after Wednesday’s outrageous incident, but I believe it’s going to take more than this: the Chelsea attacker, who was enjoying such a wonderful season at Stamford Bridge prior to Wednesday’s mad moment, has issued an apology:
The boy put his whole body onto the ball and I was just trying to kick the ball and I think I kicked the ball and not the boy. I apologize,”
“The ball boy came in the changing room and we had a quick chat and I apologized and the boy apologized as well, and it is over. Sorry.”
Isn’t that cute that he believes “it’s over?”
There will be fallout over this one, and quite possibly a suspension. Perhaps even a lengthy one, as this headline today out of England suggests.