Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov was arrested last week and faces charges of second-degree kidnapping and third-degree assault after an incident in which he allegedly dragged, kicked and stomped on his girlfriend at their apartment. On Monday, The New York Times published a story on Varlamov's arrest ... and on how it could possibly spoil the Avalanche's really good season.
"Arrest of the Avalanche’s Goalie Casts a Shadow on a Promising Season," is the headline to The Times's Varlamov's story. "As Keith Martin and his son-in-law drove to the Avalanche’s game here Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens, they spoke mostly of the dark cloud shadowing the team’s resurgence," the story continues, placing a lot of weight on how the Avalanche's promising season could be lost. And we don't get the first mention of Evgeniya Vavrinyuk, Varlamov's girlfriend and alleged victim, until after we hear about the team's best start, new rookie, and first-year head coach. "The Avalanche players have rallied around Varlamov, whose .875 winning percentage in October was the highest in franchise history, bettering the mark of .800 set by Roy in 2000," The Times added.
The Times's framing of the Varlamov arrest story is markedly different from other publications. Yahoo covered the facts of the goalie's arrest and even went on to point out how the Avs curiously started Varlamov even after he was arrested. And The Denver Post ran a story on Halloween that focused on Vavrinyuk's account and not once does it mention the affect of Varlamov's arrest on the Avs's season. "While he was doing it, he was having a lot of fun, he was laughing. I was in horrible pain," Vavrinyuk said, describing the incident.
What's more, The Times's framing of physical abuse and its damper on the season instead of focusing on the effects it has on the alleged victim's life not unlike what happened in the aftermath of Steubenville — another story which featured jocks, a woman who was the victim of abuse, and how the women's abuse negatively affected her abuser's lives. If you recall, CNN anchor Poppy Harlow said she was going to be sad because the boys were convicted of rape. "Incredibly difficult, even for an outsider like me, to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watched as they believed their lives fell apart," Harlow said.
Stories like these are very serious and should provide some perspective into how little sports mean in the greater scheme. Vavrinyuk's health and domestic violence is more important than the Avs's season — all this winning and just doesn't feel right, at least in how The Times handled it, in the same story.
The Times ran a different headline in its print version. That was: "Fury and Fear Off the Ice."