I’d like to think that what separates us from other parts of the world is our lack of kidnapped athletes and murdered referees.
If we need money, we put on a bad wig, rob a bank and get caught because we accidentally dropped our wallet at the scene of the crime. We don’t fold Kevin Durant into the trunk of a car and demand a ransom from his family.
If we believe with all our heart that the ref is not just blind but has it out for our team, we shower him with boos. We don’t put out a hit on him or storm the field to stick a shiv in his belly.
But that’s where the sense of superiority ends. I couldn’t tell you why those things haven’t happened much in our country. There are plenty of poor people here too.
A Mexican soccer player reportedly is safe after being kidnapped over the weekend. Alan Pulido was rescued Sunday night after being abducted by four armed kidnappers who had demanded a ransom from his family.
If you Google “soccer player” and “kidnapped,” you’ll learn quickly that Pulido need not feel alone.
In 2014, Juventus star Carlos Tevez paid a $400,000 ransom for his kidnapped father in Argentina. In two separate incidents in 2002 in Argentina, soccer stars paid hefty ransoms for the release of loved ones.
Major-league players from economically ravaged Venezuela worry constantly about their loved ones back home. And they worry about themselves when they return to their country. Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was kidnapped in 2011 and rescued after a ferocious gun battle between his captors and police.
Former Giants catch Guillermo Quiroz told USA Today last year that some Venezuelan players hire bodyguards when they go home but some don’t so as to not draw attention.
U.S. athletes are not immune to danger. Former Heat and Celtic forward Antoine Walker was robbed at gunpoint inside his River North home in 2007. In 2000, he and center Nazr Mohammed were robbed as they sat outside a South Side restaurant. And there are numerous examples of other pro athletes being robbed. But kidnapped? It’s rare. A Jaguars’ practice-squad player was kidnapped for several hours in March.
There are numerous examples, especially at the youth level, of parents attacking referees. But murder? No.
Maybe that’s when we’ll know the empire truly has fallen.