MIKE TOTH

Why Oscar Pistorius shouldn't surprise us

Posted By: Mike Toth · 2/15/2013 3:01:00 PM

Most people have a dark side they manage to keep hidden from the world.
 
Every so often, however, it bubbles to the surface in a bone chilling manner. Say hello to Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee Olympic track and field star from South Africa who faces a murder rap in connection with the brutal shooting death of his girlfriend. The case of "The Blade Runner" is still being investigated and Pistorius is claiming innocence. However, frightening details of the man behind the famous athlete are emerging and they don't paint a very flattering picture. Fascinated with guns, a motorcycle daredevil, and accused of a physical altercation with a female in the past - just some of the sordid insights into Oscar that have been unveiled in the wake of this week's tragedy. As expected, the media is playing up the fascinating dichotomy of a boy who lost his legs before growing up to be one of the most famous sports personalities on the planet, only to end up in the middle of a sensational murder case.
 
But the public reaction?
 
Well, when it comes to big name athletes who take a huge tumble from grace, most people just aren't all that shocked anymore. Lance Armstrong finally coming clean on playing dirty; A-Rod mixed up in another steroid scandal; O.J. Simpson hosting a Super Bowl party in his prison cell - all examples of superstar athletes gone bad, leaving fans feeling jaded and let down.
 
Now, another famous sports name is back in the negative news cycle. Graham James is a former junior hockey coach accused of sexually abusing some of his players, including NHL star Theoren Fleury. Today, the Manitoba appeal court stepped up, altering James' two year sentence by extending his jail time to five years.
 
I mention James because his story happened to be my first lesson from the "people aren't always what they seem" life guide. In 1995 and '96, I was the radio play-by-play man for the Western Hockey League Calgary Hitmen, a team coached by James. I was immediately impressed with his hockey knowledge, well-read personality and incredible sense of humour. I liked the guy a lot. In fact at the end of my first season on the job I actually found myself fighting back tears as I left the team's farewell banquet, sad that I wouldn't see Graham and the players over the summer.

But everything changed the following season when the story broke about James and his serial abuse of ex-NHL'er Sheldon Kennedy. All of a sudden, I found myself looking back on my friendship with Graham and connecting some disturbing dots. For example, during one conversation on a bus trip home from a game, I recalled Graham telling me that his biggest pet peeve was watching people abuse their power. The irony, of course, is obvious for a man entrusted with the care of kids, only to abuse that sacred trust in such a horrible way.

So, forgive me for not joining the media chorus describing the Pistorius case as "shocking" and "unimaginable".

Because if a person's dark side is black enough, it will eventually emerge; something sports fans have become all too familiar with.

Leave a comment:

showing all comments · Subscribe to comments
  1. Charged again posted on 02/17/2013 11:07 AM
    "Most people have a dark side they manage to keep hidden from the world."
    When it comes to domestic violence, Feminism 101 says all men are perpetrators, all women are victims. I don't know is Pistorous is evil or had an emotional/mental issue or even committed a crime here. Nor do I know any of that about Ms. Steenkamp, although she is dead.

    It may be, as in the Nicole Ducoet case here in Canada, Ms. Steenkamp conducted a "reign of terror" against Mr. Pistorous, and he has a defense, or at least shouldn't have to be prosecuted or jailed.

    Lets wait for the facts.
    1. just the facts ma'am, just the facts posted on 02/20/2013 03:30 PM
      @Charged again You are obviously a misogynist by your statement "feminism 101 ..." Firstly evil is a religious concept not a legal one. A crime of some sort has been perpetrated just by the evidence presented so far. Whether it is murder, culpable homicide or misuse of a firearm, one of the above occurred. Never did Mr Pistorius claim to be a victim of domestic abuse by his girlfriend. There are no juries in South Africa and emotional arguments to paint the accused in a favourable/unfavourable light in such cases is non existent. A judge will hear and decide the fate of Mr. Pistorius on legal grounds presented by the prosecution and the defense.
  2. Casia posted on 02/19/2013 02:57 PM
    I don't knowOscar but i do know thedetails of the case are shady, because if an intrude climbed into a bathroom and heard someon shouting, why would they not climb back out instead of locking themselves in a confined space. If he had shouted then why did his girlfriend not respond and say "its me" if she was going to the toilet? Also an intruder locking themselves in a bathroom cutting off their escape route? Thats very strange.

    Also if you shoot through a door why would you then return to put on your legs before you even called the police. The story does not make any sense.

    Also if you had such a fear of intruders why would you then leave a bathroom window open that someone could climb into and that was out of your sight.

    I am just throwing these things out. When he fired the first shot his girlfriend must have screamed out to let him know that she was in the bathroom. I find it difficult to believe that he did not notice that his girlfriend was not in the bed.

    Only two people know what truly happened and one is not able to tell her side of the story. May she Reeva Steenkamp rest in peace, because she certainly deserves to.
showing all comments