Pistorius, Gun Culture And The Mirror That Is Sports

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Pistorius, Gun Culture And The Mirror That Is Sports

Below is  the first guest post from City Coach’s Shane Paul Neil. Shane has been with us for the last ten years in one capacity or another, and we welcome his input. In addition to his coaching duties, Shane is Real Estate professional, and has written for the Huffington Post.

Sports have long been a great snapshot of the collective strengths and ills of our society.  It’s a micro-culture driven by competition, pride, fear and money.  Professional sports in particular are the closest example of what man is capable of when given large resources and relatively little responsibility. The Pistorius incident is one such example.

Oscar Pistorius shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, to death on Valentine’s Day. He claims he thought she was an intruder, while the authorities are charging him with premeditated murder.  The incident perpetuates the national (and now global) conversation about guns and gun culture.

Tragedies like Sandy Hook and Aurora aside, the story of athletes and guns are both prevalent and tragic with incidents spanning illegal ownership, accidental shootings, murder and suicide. Often, athletes legitimize the need for guns noting that their money and notoriety make them easy targets for robbery and more. Pistorius had the added layer of living in South Africa, a country with a growing crime and violence problem where even national heroes aren’t safe. For Pistorius, like many other athletes, the idea of gun ownership went beyond utilitarian need and carried over into enthusiastic hobbyism.

Before Pistorius it was Jovan Belcher who last made headlines when he killed the mother of his child and subsequently killed himself at the Kansas City Chiefs’ training facility. Before Belcher there were a host of other athletes who have at the very least had run-ins with the law because of firearms. At each turn we talk about the need for a change in gun culture and law until it fades from our collective memory to be renewed by the next controversy or headline-making tragedy.

We will never know what might have happened had Pistorius not had access to a gun that fateful morning. What is a safe bet is the extra split second of thought not afforded a man with sprinter’s reflexes and a means to kill that is as simple as pulling a trigger. In fact, that time isn’t afforded to anyone with a finger on the trigger.

For grown men who become celebrities for essentially being superhuman, modern day Hercules and Mercurys, the world can be a toy–a place where excess can be manipulated controlled, and, when necessary, overcome.  Perhaps the athlete’s love affair with guns should be no real surprise, for in the end it is simple human nature. When one has experienced the thrill of winning a Super Bowl or competing in the Olympics, how much further does he have to go to match that excitement? Is it even attainable?

In the end it is that dilemma that fuels and propagates all of our malfeasance. We live in what has become an antiseptic world essentially void of danger. Our need for thrill leads us to lose out necessary respect for life.  We live in a world of micro-celebrities where friendships and influence are quantified by online followers. Our self-importance is at an all time high. We judge celebrities and athletes either because or in spite of the fact that they are a mirror to who we are. Their problems are our problems. Their vanity is our vanity.

Let us all take a long look in that mirror for humanity’s sake.


About the Author:

Coach Cane is the Co-Founder and Head Coach of City Coach Multisport. He has been working with endurance athletes since 1989. He lives in the Bronx with Mrs. Coach Cane (Nicole Sin Quee) and their son Simon.
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