New Zealand cricket April 1, 2013

Ryder assault had everything to do with alcohol

Soon after news of Jesse Ryder's terrible injuries made the news, we were assured by the NZCPA and Cricket Wellington that the violent assault on him was 'not an alcohol-related incident.'
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In describing this incident as not being 'alcohol-related', NZCPA and Cricket Wellington are misspeaking © Getty Images

Soon after news of Jesse Ryder's terrible injuries made the news, we were assured by the NZCPA and Cricket Wellington that the violent assault on him was 'not an alcohol-related incident.' I presume that we are being reassured that Ryder was not drunk and he did not start the fight, so that those who remember his previous alcohol-infused altercations will not be too hasty in jumping to conclusions.

I have to admit though that I am a bit nonplussed by that statement. The fight started in a bar, a commercial establishment where, among other things, alcohol is served. I presume Ryder was drinking a beer, perhaps his first of the night, perhaps not. It is also a reasonable conclusion that his companions were drinking as well. One of them might have taken on designated driver duties for the night. And lastly, one can reasonably surmise that those who attacked Ryder were drinking too. Alcohol, as a drug that impairs judgment, and produces interesting psychological and physiological effects in those who consume it, was in the mix all right.

It is a sad commonplace that bars require bouncers not just to check IDs but to, you know, 'bounce' the unruly, aggressive, and hostile out on their rear-ends, through the bar door. And an anthropologist from Mars, if brought in to conduct a field study or two on Earth, would, if his investigations ran long enough, surely report back to his grant agency on the Red Planet that the males of the human species have a strange habit of congregating indoors to drink copious amounts of amber fluid, an activity which is often followed by several varieties of verbal abuse, aggressive posturing and physical conflict.

Alcohol doesn't just result in embarrassing sexual encounters and unplanned pregnancies; quite often, it results in fist on jaw or nose, or boot on head. It often makes the meek presumptuous and the formerly passive aggressive into the actively so. Without having been in the Christchurch bar that night, it would not be an absurd conclusion to draw that the fight began because someone, his lips loosened by the brew, said something a little edgy, which was found to be objectionable by someone whose sensibility had been acutely sharpened by the alcohol consumed that night. Call this conjecture if you like, but like I said, it is not an absurd abductive inference to draw. It is also not absurd to speculate that Ryder was picked on precisely because the media coverage of his past had emphasized his drinking ways.

David Hookes' death was alcohol-related--an incident bearing shocking parallels to Ryder's case - as was Tom Maynard's. In the latter's case, the presence of ecstasy obscured the simple, tragic fact at the heart of that story: people on ecstasy do not stumble onto train tracks but drunks frequently do

I appreciate NZCPA and Cricket Wellington's attempt to ensure that Ryder's name is not besmirched, that insult is not added to injury. But in describing this incident as not being 'alcohol-related' they are misspeaking. This had everything to do with alcohol. There is a reason why we do not hear with such monotonous frequency of similarly violent encounters in fish and chips establishments or Amsterdam coffee shops.

David Hookes' death was alcohol-related--an incident bearing shocking parallels to Ryder's case - as was Tom Maynard's. In the latter's case, the presence of ecstasy obscured the simple, tragic fact at the heart of that story: people on ecstasy do not stumble onto train tracks but drunks frequently do. If driving while drunk is dangerous, so is walking. (Maynard apparently drank four beers, two shots and ten glasses of vodka and Red Bull that fatal night.)

The modern cricketer is subject to severe sanctions if he indulges in recreational--but not performance-enhancing drugs like marijuana or cocaine while alcohol, if I'm not mistaken, continues to be welcome in dressing rooms and as part of post-game celebrations. Meanwhile, his media profile ensures that he continues to present an inviting target to drunks in public venues like bars. Perhaps the time is not too far when cricketers will only be able to drink in public while accompanied by bodyguards.

In the meantime, let us not fool ourselves about the extensive correlation between alcohol consumption and violence. Cricketers would do well to brush up on the relevant statistics the next time they sally out to the nearest bar counter.

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • reality_check on April 1, 2013, 13:02 GMT

    Tragic as it may be and our thoughts and prayers are with Jesse and his family at this difficult time BUT I agree with you 100% Samir. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Something leads to something that leads to something else. The "something" at the source of this tragic event is yet again alcohol. As you rightly said, people don't get an urge to smash someone's head in a coffee shop or a fish and chips joint based on some verbal exchanges. Alcohol impairs a person's senses. It gives a person false sense of security that he/she can do anything and get away with it. There is no secret about it. Almost all of violent encounters in and around bars are alcohol related and tragically this is no different. Yes the two persons who attacked Jesse should be punished to the fullest BUT that is only curing the symptoms. Cure the "desease" and you can cure the symptoms and we all know what the desease is. It's a very simple equation.

  • Clyde on April 4, 2013, 16:07 GMT

    A lot of us have a glass of wine with dinner and this is thought of as civilized and wine is something to read about in coffee-table books. We don't think of getting up and hitting someone. Are we to think there is a different kind of glass of something alcoholic that can sometimes have a connection with violence? Or are we to understand pub drinking is a cover for violence, just as afternoon tea can be a cover for having a pleasant rest and a chat? I am not sure the judgment in the forthcoming court case will reflect the nature of the 'relatedness' of violence and alcohol. If light is thrown on this at Cricinfo, I cannot see the objection on the grounds that it is not cricket.

  • True-Analyst on April 3, 2013, 9:54 GMT

    Off course it is cricket related, because NZCPA is trying to defend the incident being non-alcoholic to bypass the ICC and other cricket governing bodies to take action against a player. I think still we are stuck to cricket here. Indeed a nice article.....

  • soumyas on April 3, 2013, 7:33 GMT

    combination of violent mind and alcohol is dangerous for sure, i wish jesse recovers completely to be fit enough to play. but looking at his past records...he is no saint.

  • on April 2, 2013, 19:39 GMT

    Thugs don't need alcohol to be thuggish, who's to say whether the thugs in question that night were drinking or not? Even if they had there's a fair chance that played no part in the incident, as it has been said alcohol does not stimulate violence. What if Jesse and his team mates had one or two? It was after the last game of the season, understandable I think.

  • SeamingWicket on April 2, 2013, 14:25 GMT

    Why are people nitpicking over this article? Perhaps they feel that the author is suggesting a ban on drinking Alcohol does not directly make someone violent But it sure helps create the conditions inside the persons body There is no need for scientific evidence and data for this Its common sense We all know it We all see this nonsense unfold all across the globe

  • njr1330 on April 2, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    Samir, you are medically and psychologically wrong. Alcohol is a depressant and a disinhibitor. The alcohol does not make you violent. The alcohol takes away the barrier which usually exists between your violence and the world: people hit others because they are psychotic, not because they are drunk; it is simply that the one often exposes the other.

  • py0alb on April 2, 2013, 9:47 GMT

    "let us not fool ourselves about the extensive correlation between alcohol consumption and violence"

    No lets not fool ourselves, because the scientific data is overwhelmingly clear: there is no such correlation. The actual physiological effects of alcohol are to reduce aggression.

    Please try and get your facts in order before resorting to ignorant scaremongering.

  • sharidas on April 2, 2013, 9:25 GMT

    Good article for general reading. I would prefer not to read too much into the assumptions. Sportsmen or not Alcohol in excess always invite trouble. As per the reports there were three people in this incident - two commoners and one player. Had it not been for Ryder's involvement, this matter would not have attracted much attention. Mind you...in a bar even a teetotaller could get involved.

  • TheCricketeer on April 2, 2013, 8:31 GMT

    Is this a cricket site or a platform to pronounce our personal moral views. This article has nothing to do with cricket or the Ryder incident. The fact that I agree with most of what you said is kind of irrelevant. Can we stick to cricket here?

  • reality_check on April 1, 2013, 13:02 GMT

    Tragic as it may be and our thoughts and prayers are with Jesse and his family at this difficult time BUT I agree with you 100% Samir. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Something leads to something that leads to something else. The "something" at the source of this tragic event is yet again alcohol. As you rightly said, people don't get an urge to smash someone's head in a coffee shop or a fish and chips joint based on some verbal exchanges. Alcohol impairs a person's senses. It gives a person false sense of security that he/she can do anything and get away with it. There is no secret about it. Almost all of violent encounters in and around bars are alcohol related and tragically this is no different. Yes the two persons who attacked Jesse should be punished to the fullest BUT that is only curing the symptoms. Cure the "desease" and you can cure the symptoms and we all know what the desease is. It's a very simple equation.

  • Clyde on April 4, 2013, 16:07 GMT

    A lot of us have a glass of wine with dinner and this is thought of as civilized and wine is something to read about in coffee-table books. We don't think of getting up and hitting someone. Are we to think there is a different kind of glass of something alcoholic that can sometimes have a connection with violence? Or are we to understand pub drinking is a cover for violence, just as afternoon tea can be a cover for having a pleasant rest and a chat? I am not sure the judgment in the forthcoming court case will reflect the nature of the 'relatedness' of violence and alcohol. If light is thrown on this at Cricinfo, I cannot see the objection on the grounds that it is not cricket.

  • True-Analyst on April 3, 2013, 9:54 GMT

    Off course it is cricket related, because NZCPA is trying to defend the incident being non-alcoholic to bypass the ICC and other cricket governing bodies to take action against a player. I think still we are stuck to cricket here. Indeed a nice article.....

  • soumyas on April 3, 2013, 7:33 GMT

    combination of violent mind and alcohol is dangerous for sure, i wish jesse recovers completely to be fit enough to play. but looking at his past records...he is no saint.

  • on April 2, 2013, 19:39 GMT

    Thugs don't need alcohol to be thuggish, who's to say whether the thugs in question that night were drinking or not? Even if they had there's a fair chance that played no part in the incident, as it has been said alcohol does not stimulate violence. What if Jesse and his team mates had one or two? It was after the last game of the season, understandable I think.

  • SeamingWicket on April 2, 2013, 14:25 GMT

    Why are people nitpicking over this article? Perhaps they feel that the author is suggesting a ban on drinking Alcohol does not directly make someone violent But it sure helps create the conditions inside the persons body There is no need for scientific evidence and data for this Its common sense We all know it We all see this nonsense unfold all across the globe

  • njr1330 on April 2, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    Samir, you are medically and psychologically wrong. Alcohol is a depressant and a disinhibitor. The alcohol does not make you violent. The alcohol takes away the barrier which usually exists between your violence and the world: people hit others because they are psychotic, not because they are drunk; it is simply that the one often exposes the other.

  • py0alb on April 2, 2013, 9:47 GMT

    "let us not fool ourselves about the extensive correlation between alcohol consumption and violence"

    No lets not fool ourselves, because the scientific data is overwhelmingly clear: there is no such correlation. The actual physiological effects of alcohol are to reduce aggression.

    Please try and get your facts in order before resorting to ignorant scaremongering.

  • sharidas on April 2, 2013, 9:25 GMT

    Good article for general reading. I would prefer not to read too much into the assumptions. Sportsmen or not Alcohol in excess always invite trouble. As per the reports there were three people in this incident - two commoners and one player. Had it not been for Ryder's involvement, this matter would not have attracted much attention. Mind you...in a bar even a teetotaller could get involved.

  • TheCricketeer on April 2, 2013, 8:31 GMT

    Is this a cricket site or a platform to pronounce our personal moral views. This article has nothing to do with cricket or the Ryder incident. The fact that I agree with most of what you said is kind of irrelevant. Can we stick to cricket here?

  • ygkd on April 2, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    What Chopra has written is fair enough. I can fully understand the reasons why the relevant NZ cricket organisations would say it is "not alcohol-related" and their support of Ryder is highly commendable, yet one can also understand that if a fight starts on a licensed premises it will, in all probability, not be totally unrelated to alcohol. It is difficult to say more before the law has ran its course other than to express gratitude that Ryder is recovering.

  • ROTM on April 2, 2013, 7:37 GMT

    One of the smartest written articles in a long time.

  • Noman_Yousuf_Dandore on April 2, 2013, 5:59 GMT

    I applaud Samir for writing this piece. Amidst all this sympathy for Jesse (I, too, am praying for his good health), the root of the problem shall not be forgotten.

  • Eskay13 on April 2, 2013, 5:31 GMT

    Puzzled by your agenda.

    Agreed that alcohol does generally lead to loose tongues, misunderstandings and, at times, voilence. But why is it so hard for us accept the word of the authorities when they have, for some reason and on the back of some proof, decided to brand this incident as "not alcohol-related"? NZC has never, in the past, hesitated to talk about Ryder's alcohol-related misdemeanours. A reasonable interpretation of their words could be, while he may well have had a beer or two, alcohol consumption was not central to the incident in the way that it has been in previous incidents involving Ryder.

    When no comment is made on such incidents, we pounce on the silence. When comment is made to clarify the situation, we tear apart the words.

    So, is this a technical attack on the vocabularly used? Are you refuting the use of the term "related" here? Would "infused" or "centric" have been more appropriate words to use in your opinion? What exactly is your agenda here?

  • Kashif.Anwar on April 2, 2013, 5:19 GMT

    It is a good speech on anti-alcoholism, but it lacks facts in regard of the particular incident. I was reading this article with great interest and was disapointed by just reading "the obvious".

  • on April 2, 2013, 5:09 GMT

    I dislike this article because Ryder has done nothing wrong. It has been written with his past indiscretions in mind, and there is an undercurrent of 'if he has a problem with alcohol he shouldn't be at a bar'. Without knowing a single detail of the reasons why he was there and his behaviour inside and outside the bar how can any conclusions be drawn? It's clear Ryder was not drunk, nor was he the aggressor. Alcohol may be a culprit, but are you proposing prohibition? Ryder is a human being, he is free to do whatever he pleases as long as he doesn't break any laws, which he clearly didn't. I'm not sure what the point of this article is.

  • MrKricket on April 2, 2013, 3:04 GMT

    You may remember Ricky Ponting got into a punch-up in a night club in his earlier playing days and alcohol was the culprit. But Ricky turned his life around and was never involved in any related incident afterwards (that we heard about anyway). There's nothing wrong with alcohol in moderation but full-on benders are only going to end in tears. Players should know they are targets for alcohol fuelled morons when out on the town and should really stick to more appropriate venues.

  • duralsumo on April 2, 2013, 2:28 GMT

    At the point in time Jessie Ryder (Ryder) was not involved in any cricket match so he had gone to pub to have a drink which is not illegal in NZ. Yes it was more than likely an alcohol provoked incident whether Ryder was involved in starting it or victim to it these things happen. Lets not judge Ryder for his recreational habits. This is different to Josh Duggan (an Australian Rugby League) player who tweeted his photo drinking when he should be at training to his team. Lets not judge Ryder for this incident. It was unfortunate.

  • on April 2, 2013, 1:37 GMT

    Ok, first thing: The bar didn't have a bouncer because it is a suburban bar and it was a wednesday night. So it was a pretty quiet night and thus no need for any security. Second thing: Ryder was out having a few with his team mates which is perfectly reasonable. Yes he may have had issues with the drink in the past, but he's a lot better than he used to be. And lastly: People who go out with the aim of attacking somebody do exist. I don't know where you live, but it sounds like you've been wrapped in bubble wrap and are unaware that people can be violent and people sometimes go out with the intention of harming someone.

  • dlpthomas on April 2, 2013, 0:15 GMT

    Whilst I suspect Samir's comments about the role of alcohol in the assault of Jessie Ryder may prove to be true, he provides no evidence to back his claims and thus at the moment it is all conjecture. It would appear, therefore, that he has rushed in to voice his disapproval of alcohol rather than wait for all the facts to be available.

    I am not sure what point Samir is trying to make about ecstasy. There are a number of myths about this drug and as someone who works in an emergency department I can tell you people who take ecstasy do fall of train platforms. In my experience, they also get assaulted, raped, prang their cars and, rarely, die from cerebral oedema.

    Samir, how about in future you leave your moral high horse in the stable and instead write about cricket where I respect your opinion even if I rarely agree with you.

  • SyedAreYouDumb on April 1, 2013, 23:39 GMT

    Samir bhai you are completely 100 percent correct. The whole point of a bar is to drink ALCOHOL and knowing Ryder and his history with these such things, it is obvious this incident has something to do with alcohol.

  • Bukhari on April 1, 2013, 22:20 GMT

    Well said Samir, I agree 100%. It requires lots of guts to take an unpopular stance and for that I salute your moral courage. It just shows the double standards being employed in the so called civilized socities i.e. ban marijuana but allow alcohal with both having the same impacts of impairment.

  • InsideHedge on April 1, 2013, 22:15 GMT

    Samir, I applaud your courage in writing this piece. The easy thing to do would have been to write in a "get well soon" followed by how much we love Jesse. Perhaps in the coming weeks, we may learn the truth of what happened that night, common sense tells us that Ryder didn't go out of his way to stay out of a fight regardless of the guilt of the two arrested.

    I'm relieved there's a contributor at CricInfo who deals in reality and can see the obvious connection with alcohol and the hasty statement from NZC.

  • archit_38 on April 1, 2013, 20:16 GMT

    problem is individuals and not alcohol

  • on April 1, 2013, 18:27 GMT

    I've heard of a minimum of hundred of people and been one of them myself ,who've gone out to have a drink and enjoyed it for the night. If Samir, you agree, that cricket must do something to do with alcohol, then please tell me what do you propose? Your statement that drugs and alcohol should be looked at in the same way is outrageously funny. Alchohol may lead to such incidents, but trust me, muggings, shoot-outs happen without the influence in quite a case. Stop painting alcohol as a weapon. If you use too much of it, you get hurt. Which is the case with quite a lot of things in the world.

  • dirick on April 1, 2013, 15:23 GMT

    Samir, My first question to you is --- Do you think this article is appropriate at this point of time ?

    Why do u presume that RYDER had alcohol ? It might be the guys who assaulted him had alcohol and that is why NZCPA came up with a statement that it had nothing to do with RYDER drinking alcohol !

  • Achettup on April 1, 2013, 14:25 GMT

    I recall several incidents involving Praveen Kumar at bars and one particularly unsavory incident after the 2007 World Cup where members of the Indian team got into a brawl with "fans" at a bar at the Caribbean after their loss to Bangladesh. I often wonder if alcohol is used as a convenient excuse to explain away something that was done deliberately. Whether alcohol empowers someone into acting irresponsibly or not the fact is that not everyone under the influence of alcohol turns violent, there is a just a nasty streak in some people. This reality tv culture doesn't help either. From all indications Ryder tried to walk away the minute he realized these goons were looking for trouble and he was followed out and assaulted. Do people just live in fear and avoid bars and every potential place where men of such low moral fibre hang out?

  • on April 1, 2013, 13:07 GMT

    I'm guessing that rather than "blaming" alcohol (or Ryder), Samir is merely pointing out that the incident would probably not have happened in a barbershop or a Pizza Hut, and that the "nothing to do with booze" statement is a clumsy and unnecessary attempt at PR.

  • on April 1, 2013, 11:37 GMT

    Come on samir, one swallow doesn't make a summer.Many people handle drinking, few cannot.Ryder just cannot handle a drink, being a celebrity, he gets to be a plum target.Perhaps celebrities should stick to sanitised bars rather than raucous ones.But then, Ryder's odyssey could be due to some other personal reasons not just alcohol related.Let us not jump the gun and get to be the moralist!!

  • countjimmoriarty on April 1, 2013, 11:34 GMT

    Why presume that Jesse Ryder was drinking alcohol simply because he was in a bar? It IS possible to go to a bar without drinking you know. I do it myself. Doin't make presumptions based on your own prejudices.

  • Hammond on April 1, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    Samir, the entire national drinking culture of NZ/Aus would have to change before we stop seeing well paid sporting celebrities out to have a beer with their mates. It will never happen. The real culprit is the two blokes who were obviously intent to get into a brawl with Jesse Ryder so they could brag about it with their friends. Don't blame alcohol, these type of people exist in all countries.

  • Hammond on April 1, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    Samir, the entire national drinking culture of NZ/Aus would have to change before we stop seeing well paid sporting celebrities out to have a beer with their mates. It will never happen. The real culprit is the two blokes who were obviously intent to get into a brawl with Jesse Ryder so they could brag about it with their friends. Don't blame alcohol, these type of people exist in all countries.

  • countjimmoriarty on April 1, 2013, 11:34 GMT

    Why presume that Jesse Ryder was drinking alcohol simply because he was in a bar? It IS possible to go to a bar without drinking you know. I do it myself. Doin't make presumptions based on your own prejudices.

  • on April 1, 2013, 11:37 GMT

    Come on samir, one swallow doesn't make a summer.Many people handle drinking, few cannot.Ryder just cannot handle a drink, being a celebrity, he gets to be a plum target.Perhaps celebrities should stick to sanitised bars rather than raucous ones.But then, Ryder's odyssey could be due to some other personal reasons not just alcohol related.Let us not jump the gun and get to be the moralist!!

  • on April 1, 2013, 13:07 GMT

    I'm guessing that rather than "blaming" alcohol (or Ryder), Samir is merely pointing out that the incident would probably not have happened in a barbershop or a Pizza Hut, and that the "nothing to do with booze" statement is a clumsy and unnecessary attempt at PR.

  • Achettup on April 1, 2013, 14:25 GMT

    I recall several incidents involving Praveen Kumar at bars and one particularly unsavory incident after the 2007 World Cup where members of the Indian team got into a brawl with "fans" at a bar at the Caribbean after their loss to Bangladesh. I often wonder if alcohol is used as a convenient excuse to explain away something that was done deliberately. Whether alcohol empowers someone into acting irresponsibly or not the fact is that not everyone under the influence of alcohol turns violent, there is a just a nasty streak in some people. This reality tv culture doesn't help either. From all indications Ryder tried to walk away the minute he realized these goons were looking for trouble and he was followed out and assaulted. Do people just live in fear and avoid bars and every potential place where men of such low moral fibre hang out?

  • dirick on April 1, 2013, 15:23 GMT

    Samir, My first question to you is --- Do you think this article is appropriate at this point of time ?

    Why do u presume that RYDER had alcohol ? It might be the guys who assaulted him had alcohol and that is why NZCPA came up with a statement that it had nothing to do with RYDER drinking alcohol !

  • on April 1, 2013, 18:27 GMT

    I've heard of a minimum of hundred of people and been one of them myself ,who've gone out to have a drink and enjoyed it for the night. If Samir, you agree, that cricket must do something to do with alcohol, then please tell me what do you propose? Your statement that drugs and alcohol should be looked at in the same way is outrageously funny. Alchohol may lead to such incidents, but trust me, muggings, shoot-outs happen without the influence in quite a case. Stop painting alcohol as a weapon. If you use too much of it, you get hurt. Which is the case with quite a lot of things in the world.

  • archit_38 on April 1, 2013, 20:16 GMT

    problem is individuals and not alcohol

  • InsideHedge on April 1, 2013, 22:15 GMT

    Samir, I applaud your courage in writing this piece. The easy thing to do would have been to write in a "get well soon" followed by how much we love Jesse. Perhaps in the coming weeks, we may learn the truth of what happened that night, common sense tells us that Ryder didn't go out of his way to stay out of a fight regardless of the guilt of the two arrested.

    I'm relieved there's a contributor at CricInfo who deals in reality and can see the obvious connection with alcohol and the hasty statement from NZC.

  • Bukhari on April 1, 2013, 22:20 GMT

    Well said Samir, I agree 100%. It requires lots of guts to take an unpopular stance and for that I salute your moral courage. It just shows the double standards being employed in the so called civilized socities i.e. ban marijuana but allow alcohal with both having the same impacts of impairment.