On Sunday, Liverpool striker Luis Suarez wounded Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanović’s arm with his teeth, in a practice that is commonly referred to as biting. He bit another human being. And not for the first time.
Such naughty behavior is perhaps more common to preschools than football pitches. At least, this seems to be the thinking of the English Football Association, which has decided to treat the incident as such by informing Suarez’s mother of the episode and requesting her assistance in ensuring that it does not happen again.
Typically, when we see an athlete react aggressively in the heat of the moment, we have some understanding based on empathy. Most of us have been in situations in which our first impulse might be to lash out physically. Depending on how well-adjusted we are to the social contract that governs us all, we might give in to this impulse or else control it. Nonetheless, we still feel it.
However, speaking personally, I’ve never, ever, in my entire adult life, felt the urge to violently bite another human being. I assume that this is common for most of us. And therefore, that small bit of empathy we might feel for an athlete who “loses it,” completely dissipates when teeth become involved.