Is this what you expect a world famous sports star to do?
Is this what you expect a world famous sports star to do?
In response to this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette
Luis Suarez, an accomplished footballer who plays for Liverpool in the UK’s Premier League and for Uruguay’s National team is in the middle of yet another media storm because of his actions yesterday. In Uruguay’s World Cup match against Italy yesterday, Suarez bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in the shoulder. Suarez has a terrible history of biting players during a football match. Today, the Mail Online reported that Suarez has been charged by FIFA for biting an opponent and could potentially be slapped with a two-year ban.
As if this story isn’t disturbing enough, I have found that my blog has been viewed hundreds of times yesterday when people entered the search terms, ‘Luis Suarez Autistic’. I find it offensive that some people would quickly assume that someone who displays inappropriate behaviours that Suarez did, is autistic.
Why would they? Is it because they have encountered someone with Autism who has the tendency to bite when they are angry? Yes, some people with Autism may have that tendency, but not everyone with Autism does so.
Is it because Suarez has been doing this exact same thing and he seems not to have learned? That’s not a sign of Autism.
Is it because he is unable to control his emotions whilst also not understanding social norms? Those may be signs of Autism but one needs to look at the whole picture and observe individuals in different contexts to see whether the behaviour and understanding are constant.
Even though I am extremely offended, I understand that I may be over-reacting. I am here to educate and not moan. A diagnosis of Autism requires a lot of tests, conversations and observations. Observing someone on a football field is not enough to warrant a diagnosis. Also, inappropriate behaviours are caused by a lot of factors, which makes it impossible to pin it down to a specific condition.
I hope this clears things up somehow.
Tourette’s Syndrome is a neurological condition that is characterised by nervous, involuntary tics, which can manifest in several forms. People who have Tourette’s Syndrome (TS) may display sudden muscle twitches such as rapid blinking, twisting of their limbs, or sometimes, hitting themselves. Some have verbal tics, such as repetitive utterances of words, meaningless sounds or at times, swearing. I should point out that only about 5-10% of people with TS actually have ‘swearing tics’, despite the widely held belief that all of them do. One can only imagine how challenging everyday life must be for these people.
One of the people who can overcome his tics is Everton FC and American International goalkeeper Tim Howrard. Diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome at the age of 9, Howard has not let his condition get in the way of his passion for sports. He excelled at basketball and football (soccer). In one of his interviews, he said that he suppresses his tics through sheer willpower and determination- a tactic proven to have worked for him throughout his successful professional career. Howard, now playing for Everton FC, have played for four professional football teams including Manchester United. He has also played over 72 games for USA.
Here are some of his career highlights:
Here he is, scoring the farthest ever goal in football history:
I should emphasise that Tourette’s Syndrome manifests in different ways. The type and severity of tics vary from one person to another. Additionally, one person (like Howard) may be able to suppress his or her tics whilst another may not. Nevertheless, Tim Howard’s story once again shows how a diagnosis is not the end of everything.
For more information on Tourette’s Syndrome, click the links below:
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
People with disabilities, not disabilities with people
Inspiring people with ADHD:
Inspiring People with Autism:
Jessica-Jane Applegate (British Paralympian)
Recent football events involving John Terry and Luis Suarez (separate incidents) have caused a major stir in football. John Terry was caught on camera shouting racially abusive words towards Anton Ferdinand:
People can easily make out what Terry shouted towards Ferdinand. This incident caused John Terry to be stripped off the England captaincy, and is still being investigated. In a separate incident, Patrice Evra of Manchester United claimed he was also racially abused by Liverpool’s Luis Suarez in their match last year. This resulted in an 8-match suspension for Luis Suarez. However, in Liverpool and United’s match a few weeks ago, Suarez refused to shake Evra’s hand during the start of the game, causing the issue to remain unsettled:
Also recently, Chris Brown was slammed after winning a Grammy for the Best R&B Album (F.A.M.E.) and being nominated for both Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song, on top of being allowed to perform in the said awards show. People’s anger stems from Brown’s domestic abuse case against Rihanna which occured only a few years ago (disturbing details from official court documents available here).
These incidents highlights the responsibilities of these famous people. They must realize that day in, day out, they are in the public’s eyes. People search for their videos, pictures and the latest news about them. Every action should be calculated and precise because people of all ages from all over the world, thanks to the internet and the media, can know what they are up to. Whether they like it or not, they are role models. I am not saying that we all do everything that these celebrities and sports people do. However, I cannot deny the influence they have towards our choices. Otherwise, why put them in commercials? Terry and Suarez represents not only their teams’ ethos and pride, but also the whole of football. Similarly, Chris Brown represents hiphop and is a part of the whole music business.
What they’ve done is terrible and shouldn’t be done ever again. But I do believe that all of them deserve a second chance. There is no doubt that I am angry with each of them. No one should ever be allowed to beat up another human being, let alone your romantic partner. Nobody should get away with racially abusing someone else, regardless of whether the whole world is watching or not. But we all make mistakes, small or big. Yes, Terry, Suarez and Brown should know that they shouldn’t have done what they have but the damage has been done. I just wish that they have learned from their experiences.
People will always remember what these three have done to tarnish their reputation. It is up to them whether or not they want to win their fans (and the whole world) back and how they will do it. It is also up to us to give them a second chance. People should remember that we have a choice of whether or not we continue watching Terry and Suarez’s games, Brown’s concerts and whether or not we continue buying Brown’s records. I just hope that other celebrities and sports personalities learn from these mistakes.