Readers respond to "Sports Stars, Sex and Stalkers" by Dan McGraw.

Published August 7, 2003 8:10PM (EDT)

[Read the story here.]

Throughout this article, Dan McGraw neatly sidestepped the fact that Kobe Bryant was accused of rape, couching Bryant's actions as mere "misbehavior" or, at worst, "marital infidelity." I'm shocked that McGraw could write a four-page article treating athletes' extramarital sex lives as a problem of too much opportunity, without discussing athletes' oft-documented violence toward their partners.

Athletes who are constantly rewarded for aggressive, hyper-"masculine" behavior learn to cultivate and act on violent impulses, and as celebrities they learn that they can act without consequences. McGraw entirely trivialized the very real issue of pro athletes' rape and abuse records by painting a sexy fairy-tale portrait of men who are given whatever they want.

-- Jessica Stites

First of all, "we" didn't create the "aberrant sexualized world" in which athletes live, nature did.

The fact is, women have a tendency to transform into sleaze-drenched grotesques when confronted by that much social power concentrated into one male body. And the men transmogrify into Mr. Hydes of lustful deformity as a result of all that naked opportunity. Is it any wonder they should war?

I, for one, am glad that both the athletes and groupies have seen fit to provide us, the viewing public, with so much quality, real-life melodrama to spice up our drab days and tired nights. Though there may be some examples of genuine abuse inflicted upon women and men alike, in our heart of hearts we know that, for the most part, both the athletes and women are monsters of ego and need. And I love watching a good monster ballet.

-- Ted Foreman

Did someone turn the clock back to 1950 without telling me? McGraw writes, "To expect some higher moral code from guys who play ball for a living is probably unrealistic," and, "... it shouldn't come as any shock to anyone that athletes misbehave."

Coercive sex is not simply "misbehavior" and choosing to not engage in it does not require "a higher moral code." Mr. McGraw, you have failed me and the rest of Salon's readers by perpetuating the age-old conceit that a woman's body is not her own and that sexual assault is not a serious crime. I am deeply disappointed.

-- Maria Farkas

Bravo for publishing an article that many would not. However, I must say shame on you for one thing: This woman is an adult and should be treated as such, not given the opportunity to hide behind the fact that she's 19. She is not a teenager. This reminds me of how people regarded Monica Lewinsky during her scandal and if I remember correctly, she was 23.

And let's categorize Kobe Bryant correctly too. He's 24. This kind of age relationship difference goes on daily all around America on college campuses. In my opinion, this young woman is old enough to make decisions regarding her sexuality and how she chooses to engage in intercourse. In fact, the law gives her that right when she turns 18. She already did so when she chose to engage in "some consensual sex." This was not an encounter between an adult and a child. It was between two adults, and as such both parties need to take responsibility for their actions, whatever that may turn out to be.

-- Alexis Lorick

I don't doubt athletes worth millions are vulnerable to spurious accusations from loose women, but to me the timing of this article is curious. It coincides with a segment about groupies that aired on CNN the same day as this article appeared on Salon.com. Again, these sort of peeks into the life of modern-day gladiators can be titillating, but the skeptic in me wonders if Kobe's people aren't the ones pre-packaging these stories for unsuspecting journalists like Dan McGraw. Tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship deals are riding on this case, and it's not just penny-ante companies like Nutella, which revoked Kobe's deal with them on Monday. I'm talking about Coca-Cola, Nike and McDonald's.

Immediately after the CNN segment on groupies, James Worthy's ex-wife spoke about the scandal set off when her husband got busted trying to hire a prostitute. She was asked whether she could offer any insight into what Kobe's wife must be feeling, and although I'm not sure she answered the question, what she said was revealing. She said only a team of pros can spin away this notoriety, and that Kobe's wife is like the starting guard on a basketball team with a role to play in relation to the forwards and the center. I wonder who are the forwards and who is the center?

-- Jason McGahan

In response to the boo-hoo article about sports figures having groupies all over the place, I have this to say: They can say no. I don't want to hear that it's hard to push someone away or hard to resist the short skirts and low-cut blouses. When did grown men lose their accountability?

They deserve whatever sticky situations they get themselves into. Just because you're famous doesn't mean you're excused from exercising good judgment.

-- Kristin Latina

By Salon Staff

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