That Old Ego Again
It seems it’s not uncommon for athletes to use primitive animal fighting tendencies to protect themselves, their image, or their careers, Redford Williams said. In 1996, Baltimore Orioles star second baseman Robbie Alomar got into a shouting match with umpire John Hirschbeck with both men allegedly hurling profane insults at one another after Alomar was called out on strikes. Alomar was ejected from the game, then flew out of the dugout to spit in the umpire’s face, drawing a five-day suspension. Defense of ego is sometimes behind these incidents. When he was manager with the Cincinnati Reds, Lou Piniella and relief pitcher Rob Dibble had a showdown that left them swearing at one another, then wrestling on the clubhouse floor. I sort of lose my cool, Piniella said. It’s just that simple. It happened. When my integrity gets questioned, it’s not that easy of a situation to deal with.
In 1995, in front of a national television audience in South Africa, soccer player Ahmed Gora Ebrahim of the Rabali Blackpool team became angry because his manager, Walter Rautmann, took him out of the game after just 16 minutes for a substitute. The player kung-fu kicked Rautmann to the ground, damaging his kidney. Also that year in England, Manchester United soccer player Eric Cantona jumped into the stands to kick a spectator.
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Many psychologists believe athletes with low self-esteem are susceptible to violence, but too much self-esteem can be a key factor in determining aggressive and violent behavior, according to three researchers who analyzed more than 150 studies in psychology and criminology. You’ve got a lot of people running around with seriously inflated egos who come crashing down to earth all the time, said study co-author Joseph Boden, a post-doctoral research associate at the University of Virginia. When confronted with their weaknesses and failures, however, they lash out typically at those who have challenged what the researchers call their threatened egotism.
Being insulted by fans can send an athlete into a rage, like at an international cricket match in Toronto in 1997. A fan had been heckling Inziman Ul-Haq of the Pakistani team through a megaphone and calling him a potato when the cricketeer suddenly leaped up into the stands and wielded a cricket bat during a wild melee. Police became involved and Ul-Haq was suspended.
Tyson, who sought psychiatric help to enable him to control his emotions, said he snapped and bit Evander Holyfield’s ear in their 1997 match because he was mad at Holyfield for head-butting him and putting his career and family income in jeopardy. But Holyfield said it was all about controlling such animal instincts. What happened opened people’s eyes about how much pressure can happen when things are not going your way, Holyfield said. Anytime you’re accustomed to winning and it comes to a point where you meet your match, something like that can happen. When he was