Monday, September 08, 2014

4.8 Love - Football Season

Bestest Friend and I are in the middle of a blog project. Each day of the month we will post a picture on a pre-determined theme and write a little something about it. The theme for the eighth day of each month is "Love."
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I like my entertainment to be entertaining - I read trashy romance novels, I watch way too many episodes of Family Feud, and I love, love, love spending a Sunday afternoon curled up on the couch with my husband and cat watching football. My beloved Detroit Lions are playing the Monday night game of the season tonight and I couldn't be more excited.  The first week of football season has started with a bang and I'm developing new crushes (Emmanual Sanders) and reinforcing my most hated rivalries (grrr...damn Bears).

But recently I've come to the realization that I might have to give football up.
I was willing to ignore all the recent controversy surrounding concussions and other physical damage done to the players. I told myself that players were compensated for a dangerous job, just like soldiers and law enforcement officers are.  I was willing to ignore all the controversy surrounding the officials going on strike. Jeez, what do they want from a part-time job, I argued. 

But this thing with some players (a small minority, I know!) taking the violence off the field might be the thing for me.  USA Today keeps a list of arrests of NFL players and when you scroll through it you'll notice a pattern of domestic violence, drugs, and DUI.  This doesn't even include some extreme cases (think Jovan Belcher who killed the mother of his child before killing himself in front of his coaches or the bullying in the Miami Dolphins' locker room).

Today the big news in the NFL is that Ray Rice, a player for the Baltimore Ravens, was fired from the team and indefinitely suspended by the league when TMZ (TMZ - of all places!) publicly released a video of Rice punching his then-fiancee, now wife, in an elevator and then dragging her unconscious body out of it.  This is only after the league originally only punished him with a two game suspension.  Meanwhile, the criminal charges against Rice are still pending, as he's been indicted by the grand jury, but it hasn't gone to trial yet.

But people are up in arms - Ray Rice was given special treatment before that video was released! No. No, he wasn't. The NFL has been just as inconsistent with its punishments for domestic violence as the criminal justice system has. The fact that he has been fired and suspended indefinitely and has received a harsh punishment is the aberration, not the original laughable two game suspension. I once watched a sentencing of a man who had been found guilty of beating his ex-wife, breaking her jaw, all of her ribs, and leaving her black and blue from her neck to her waist and in the hospital for two months receive six months (I'm sorry...180 days) in jail. I once watched in horror as a judge read the newspaper on the bench while a woman whose husband was found guilty of raping her with a Coke bottle and then slicing her neck with it read her victim impact statement.

So the fact that Ray Rice was originally being lightly punished by the NFL should not surprise anyone, but it should piss all of us off.  The NFL has a huge platform to change societal norms and expectations and I do hope that this clusterfuck of bad press and poor reactions by NFL officials leads to some real positive changes.  Or I might have to take my fandom elsewhere.

The NFL does some great things - charity, community growth and leadership, job creation and revenue streams, and giving all of us something to talk about on Monday mornings besides how much we hate that it's Monday morning, for example - but unless the culture of the organization changes to promote the health and well-being of its players, coaches, and fans, I am not sure how much longer I will be able to confidently maintain my strident defense and love of all things Detroit Lions football.
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To see what Bestest Friend wrote about the theme of the day, check out her blog, Too Legit to Quit.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. I get so fed up with what NFL players are able to get away with. Both of my kids, but especially my daughter, love to watch the game with their Dad. And so many kids idolize the players. Hopefully change will come.

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