Sexism in commentary about Semyon Varlamov arrest for beating his girlfriend?

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Evgeniya Vavrinyuk.
The arrest of Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov for allegedly beating girlfriend Evgeniya Vavrinyuk is a story that naturally falls into both the news and sports categories. As such, it's also been a major topic on sports-talk radio -- and on Friday, ESPN Denver and 104.3/The Fan took vastly different approaches to the subject. While the ESPN broadcasters struck a sober tone during the segment I heard, the 104.3 yakkers heavily implied that the accusations were trumped up in a way more or less explained by the phrase "Bitches be crazy."

To be clear: Neither D-Mac nor former Denver Broncos standout Alfred Williams used these specific words during a segment of The Drive, the afternoon program they host on the station. Instead, D-Mac highlighted what he described as "the facts" we know about the case -- and some items, like the highly limited amount of information we've heard thus far, actually fit this description. There's no question that the account publicized to date has been largely drawn from the police report included below, as well as Vavrinyuk's public statements, including her assertion that the goalie was drunk and laughing as he pummeled her.

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But other D-Mac "facts" actually included a heaping helping of interpretation. For instance, he noted that the Avalanche had decided that Varlamov would be allowed to travel with the team, as well as play, as he did on Friday night, when he was in net for the Avs' 3-2 overtime win versus the Dallas Stars. In the host's view, this move suggested team executives saw the evidence in the case as potentially "shaky" and were confident Varlamov wasn't the kind of person who could possibly have committed the acts his girlfriend described.

To put it mildly, this analysis left out some important information, including Avs coach Patrick Roy's arrest for domestic violence back in 2000. Yes, the case against Roy was later dismissed -- but excluding mention of this actual fact during the argument was an incredible oversight. Did Roy's experience make him hyper-sensitive to such accusations, giving him even more credibility in the case? Or did it leave him predisposed to assume an athlete in this position had to be guilt-free? Impossible to say with certainty -- especially if this event isn't even noted.

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Semyon Varlamov during his first court appearance.
As for Williams, he was even more blunt, stating simply that from where he sat, this looked like a case of Varlamov simply having chosen a "bad girlfriend." This line inspired D-Mac to go into one of his trademark raps, stating that young athletes were foolish to either get married or enter into a serious, live-in relationship during their playing careers, because doing so invites the sort of troubles Varlamov had experienced.

In other words, bang all the babes you want, but keep them at a distance, because the minute they get close, they can become insanely jealous or otherwise go off the rails and plunge you into a public-relations nightmare.

Views like these are hardly unique when it comes to commentary about athletes and crime. Remember the Kobe Bryant case, where his accuser was painted as a clingy loon by much of the sports press? No one knew if the portrait was on the mark or a terrible disservice to a victim, but that didn't seem to matter.

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Nate Kreckman.
For this reason, Nate Kreckman and Gary Miller, afternoon cohorts on ESPN Radio Denver's The Locker Room, deserve credit for not immediately branding either Varlamov or Vavrinyuk as villains. Instead, they discussed the seriousness of the allegations, and although Miller felt Varlamov shouldn't suit up for the Dallas game, his reasoning had to do with the optics of the situation, not his certainty that the goalie was guilty. For his part, Kreckman was critical of Roy for pre-game comments in which he seemed to shrug off the Varlamov situation entirely. One key comment: "Why wait?"

This attitude is certainly defensible from a hockey perspective: Varlamov's record after the Dallas win was a sparkling 8-1 this season. But when it comes to assessing guilt or innocence regarding the assault beef, waiting is actually a very good idea. Deciding prematurely that the charges against Varlamov are trumped up not only contributes to uncalled-for attacks on Vavrinyuk, who's said to have received death threats since coming forward. It also makes justice in the situation that much harder to achieve.

Look below to see a 7News report featuring a Vavrinyuk interview and the arrest affidavit.

Semyon Varlamov Arrest Affidavit

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Sports archive: "Videos: Patrick Roy fights show intensity he'll bring as Avalanche's new coach."


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19 comments
mnetters
mnetters

Well Russians.. even not in Russia are still Russian

adminuser
adminuser

too many blows to the frontal lobes...

McShyster
McShyster

Violent Neanderthalism is rewarded in Amerikan sports

Jason Breault
Jason Breault

Bitches are crazy so are some dudes let's let the courts decide

Juliana Connelly Hand
Juliana Connelly Hand

Glad everyone jumps to conclusions without knowing facts. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? ??

Matt Corry
Matt Corry

This is totally he said, she said BS! This is why we have a Justice system, and not a media system.

Sher Quintana
Sher Quintana

They are both at fault and she is loving the attention!

Peter William Goodwin
Peter William Goodwin

Everybody has an opinion about shit that doesn't happen to them. No one knows what happened excluding Varlamov and his girlfriend. So yes, in a sense, I would say sexism was involved in this radio host's comment. BUT WHO GIVES A FUCK WHAT THAT RADIO PERSONALITY HAS TO SAY?!

Brad Kinney
Brad Kinney

Web a man beats a woman he shows what a sissy he is - an anyone defending that sissy needs to get in the ring w me - ill how em what a good ass whippin feels like - ESP Semyon Varlamov - he should not be representing Denver an neither should this sissy radio DJ -

Doug Hubka
Doug Hubka

Some day the public will figure out that Talk Show people say things just to get attention, the more outrageous it is , the more attention they get. Ignoring it is the best way to end it.

Sydney Vee
Sydney Vee

Victim Blaming: Will it never end?

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Jason Breault Well put, Jason. We're going to make your post an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Juliana Connelly Hand Good question, Juliana. Thanks for posting.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Matt Corry Good point, Matt. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Peter William Goodwin Passionate post, Peter. Thanks for weighing in.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Sydney Vee Good question, Sydney. Thanks.

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