On the 6th of this month Ray Rice had his hearing about the incident of domestic violence which left his then fiancé Janay unconscious in a New Jersey casino’s elevator. Present, and forced to testify, was NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell. The hearing was closed and we do not know what was said. Rice was petitioning reinstatement as a professional football player. The NFL appears to be attempting to make it all go away. The issue of domestic violence is disappearing from media focus.
Ignored are the facts that Commissioner Goodell and Baltimore Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti blatantly lied about what they knew and when they knew about it. Their crime was as offensive as that of Mr. Rice, but they will receive no punishment. Their actions are a perpetuation of past policies, continuing to protect owners, coaches and players from punishment for acts of domestic violence.
Are issues of domestic violence as important to the NFL League Office as player safety, and rules protecting the integrity of professional football? The truth remains ‘no.’ Should they be? Yes.
The NFL is not alone in its failure to recognize the seriousness of violence against women and children. The nation’s institutions of higher learning don’t want the general public to be aware of the rise of sexual assault on campus.
Statistics are frightening and appalling, but they can be changed. At present 25 percent of coeds will be sexually assaulted. 80 percent of all victims will know the person who violated them, and 70 percent of college students are familiar with their attackers. Nearly 50 percent of women do not consider the incident rape, although it qualifies under the law. The majority of sexual assault cases were involved with alcohol. Taking immediate action when charges are made would alleviate many of these attacks. Changes in school policies, rules and regulations could end most.
The United States Military continues failure with mediocre attempts to curtail sexual assaults within the ranks. Commanding officers remain the sole person to decide if allegations of assault should be prosecuted. Changes by Congress which would have resulted in independent evaluation of each case were denied.
Professional football is the most popular sport in the United States. It is a multi-billion dollar industry which continues to prosper and grow. Those in power, the Commissioner and owners, can choose to continue on this profitable path, or witness the beginning of its demise. 40 percent of NFL fans are female. Denying protection for wives and girlfriends of players and coaches is a dangerous choice to make.
The question fans must ask is how many wives and girlfriends fail to file a formal complaint? In all of society the experts believe that for every single filed complaint, two more remain unreported. The domestic violence issue has been ignored for all too long. The writer of this article, and far too many of its readers, has either witnessed or been a victim of domestic violence.
Although the NFL, our colleges and universities, and our military would prefer that domestic violence be permanently removed from the front pages of our newspapers and news shows, the opposite must happen. Domestic violence must remain the focus of mainstream and secondary media.
Outcry occurs when the media reports instances of child pornography. School shootings are breaking news and remain on the pages of publications and the television airwaves for days. The disappearance of a wealthy young woman on foreign land remains news for months. A disease, which had virtually zero chance of infecting our nation with its own pandemic, continues to be a top-ten item on the news. All of the former are horrific and appalling. However, domestic violence, a far more prevalent crime, is seldom the prime subject of the media.
This is why an instance of domestic abuse involving a celebrity, or a professional athlete must be kept at the forefront of all media. This is the chance to finally force changes in our society which will cease ignoring domestic violence, or excusing it. The time is now; our opportunity is now; don’t let it simply fade away.
By James Turnage