MLS is not different from the other professional sports leagues.
To be honest, I haven't seen a ton out there claiming that, but I do recall MLS being held up by some fans as an example of a league that doesn't have the same problems as the NFL, back when that league was dealing last fall with the moral quagmire of "fair" suspensions in the wake of Ray Rice beating up his now-wife in a hotel elevator.
MLS never claimed to be morally better than the NFL. But there hasn't been the same incidence rate of publicized criminal issues in recent years. Whether that's because of the higher profile of the NFL, who knows, though it likely has something to do with the media attention on arrests of all kinds.
But when then-Columbus Crew midfielder (and former Chivas USA player) Daniel Paladini was suspended in early-November in relation to a domestic violence issue, we didn't have the details to really weigh in on what was happening. Besides, Paladini was hurt with a broken leg, and would have played no part in the Crew's playoff series against the New England Revolution anyway.
On Tuesday, Adam Jardy reported the details of Paladini's arrest on The Columbus Dispatch. The details are disturbing, as Paladini allegedly found disgusting ways to assault his now-fiancee over a three day period in October.
For what Paladini allegedly did, the police ended up only charging him with misdemeanor offenses,
presumably because they couldn't get his partner to cooperate more. The same partner who Paladini allegedly poured bleach all over before kicking her.
Update: I've been helpfully told by @LaDiavolina, a lawyer, that Paladini was charged with misdemeanors because most domestic violence assaults fall under that category, not because of cooperation or lack thereof. Thanks to her for the clarification on that matter.
By no means do I wish to condemn the victim, because she's obviously going through a great deal. The issue then turns to what the bigger response should be.
Obviously Paladini needs to go through the criminal justice system, and to rush to judgment is unfair, etc. etc.
But domestic violence is tricky when it comes to the courts. Unlike the Ray Rice beating, presumably none of Paladini's alleged offenses were caught on videotape. The fact that the charges are misdemeanors, despite the brutality, have shocked many, but who knows if this goes to trial, if he's convicted, and if he has any substantive punishment at the end of it all.
It seemed like Paladini would have an uphill battle to find an MLS club for the start of 2015 on the basis of his broken leg alone (a factor his fiancee attributes to the motivation for the assaults, that he was stressed out with his contract running out at the end of last season). It seems even more likely that he won't get any chances now, with these charges hanging over his head. And that seems just fine with me.
Paladini has never been a regular starter in MLS and so his absence from the league won't really "test" the league's responses. But rather than wonder what they would do if he was a star, let's hope that we don't have to deal with this with any regularity -- and not for lack of reporting, but because pro athletes aren't attacking their loved ones, whether "just one time" or on a regular basis.
People from all walks of life commit violent acts against their partners, and so to eradicate it from professional sports, including MLS, means eradicating it from society altogether. And we all have work to do on that front.
But here's hoping Daniel Paladini's case is a true outlier, and not something that we will become immune to as more incidents pile up. And that's not for the sake of the league, or growing the game, but for the humanity of us all.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!