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“None of this went reported. We were able to confirm there were no restraining orders, no reports. But just sort of the campus buzz — just the buzz, the campus grapevine — if you’re coaching a team and a player is assaulting a sleeping teammate, wouldn’t you prod around? There were just too many episodes that were almost foreshadowing this.”


A CBS reporter pulls
together the latest reports of George Huguely’s violence – toward Yeardley Love and toward others – leading up to her murder.

Having covered, on this blog, quite a lot of on-campus and off-campus violence, I’d like to speculate a little here, about this case.

Let’s start with the coach. It’s contemptible that, knowing Huguely was dangerously violent, the coach said nothing to anyone about it. But it is unsurprising. Why?

1.) Coaches go to incredible trouble, and get paid large sums of money, to recruit and retain aggressive young men. These men are rewarded for their aggression on the field, and rarely punished for that same aggression off the field. Sports heroes like Huguely have been rewarded all their lives for being rude and crude. Their coaches are part of the reward system.

2.) From the coach’s point of view, Huguely is part of a crowd. There are several pretty wild drunks on the team, and it’s going to be hard to single any of them out as not merely wild but pathological.

3.) Coaches tend to have intensely paternal relationships with their boys. They think like fathers, and fathers don’t report their sons, or call the police on them.

4.) The coach is unlikely to come from same the privileged background as his players. If he did, he’d be a lawyer, not a coach. He will perhaps, when considering action against a player, be intimidated by the money and power the player’s parents have.

5.) He will also be intimidated by thoughts of fans and alumni who expect victories and who adore Huguely as a big part of the team’s victory delivery system. A coach’s job is always very shaky — recall that Duke unloaded its lacrosse coach long before the innocence of his players was finally established.

*********************************

What about Yeardley Love herself? She was obviously being bombarded by threatening emails and by escalating physical violence from Huguely. She must have known about his jealousy-fueled attack on a male friend of hers on the team. Why did she do nothing, beyond locking her bedroom door?

1.) She might have done something. She might have talked about it. She might even have lodged a complaint — something short of a restraining order, let’s say, but maybe something. We don’t know yet.

2.) She might have thought along the same lines as the chair of Amy Bishop’s department: Yes, this is a scary person, but the school year is almost over. If I can just get to the end of the semester, she’ll have to go away, because she didn’t get tenure. Love might have thought We’re a few weeks away from graduation. If I can just wait that out, he’ll go his way and I’ll go mine.

3.) The crowd thing again. She saw him as one of the guys, part of a very close-knit team. Maybe he was crazier than most of the other guys, but they embraced him, loved him, didn’t throw him off the team. He could be seriously shitfaced, but so could they. He could also probably be charmingly apologetic about his obnoxiousness the next morning.

4.) Finally there’s pity and fear.

She wanted to help him. She understood he was a terrible drunkard about to enter an unforgiving world of work, and she wanted to help him. She pitied him, not just because he was an alcoholic, but because he loved and needed her so much. He roused her compassion.

Just as much, though, he roused her fear. He was a powerful man, and a very mean drunk. His love was sick and obsessive, and now that she’d rejected him, it was all wounded ego and vicious rage. Perhaps like his coach she deluded herself that Huguely was under it all still a little boy given to tantrums, rather than a man capable of murder.

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6 Responses to “Foreshadowing”

  1. Brad Says:

    All right, I’ll say it: “A Huguely unattractive picture.”

    I’d like to get back to Psycho-soccer Girl. First, there was undoubted FORESHADOWING with her too. The person who filmed her knew she was a hot-head. The innocent-looking Mormon girls knew. Her coach must have known. The referee probably knew. Second, the film was highly edited. Some first half stuff was shown later and second half stuff earlier. The purpose was to make Psycho-soccer Girl look as bad as possible. Third, the innocent-looking Mormon girls were trying to trigger her off by elbowing and punching her. The film, edited as it is, showed this. Fourth, her coach should have pulled her off once she saw her player was losing it. Fifth, the referee should have been trying to calm her down. He can give her a talking to, a yellow card, etc.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Brad: Absolutely. It’s hard to think of any story like this – of a student exploding into violence or some form of horrible behavior – that didn’t have plenty of foreshadowing.

  3. Doug Richmond Says:

    I coached college football and then left coaching and went to law school. Coaches are not intimidated by players’ backgrounds or players’ parents. In fact, lacrosse coaches often have backgrounds similar to their players’. They coach because they love the athletic environment–not because they cannot do other things. Few athletes been rewarded for being rude and crude in their lives. The truth is that many coaches overlook problems because they are not comfortable dealing with them, or because they do not appreciate their seriousness. If that makes them cowardly or ignorant or both, it also places them on equal footing with troubled athletes’ parents.

  4. Bill Gleason Says:

    Once you cross the line of tolerating this stuff, it is over.

    For major college athletics – it is over.

    Go to D-II or D-III and get a good education.

  5. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Doug: Thank you for that background. It makes sense to me.

  6. Brett Says:

    “They think like fathers, and fathers don’t report their sons, or call the police on them.”

    I think this over-generalizes significantly, but even if it’s true, the coaches don’t think like fathers if they don’t discipline the offenders. There are a number of aspects of Mr. Huguely’s behavior that, had I engaged in them while either under his roof or attending college on his dime, would have drawn the attention of and prompted swift action by my father.

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