Friday, September 12, 2014

Ranting On...Ray Rice and Domestic Violence

I don't watch football.  I am not a football fan.  I don't hate it, because I truly get the appeal in the sense of cheering for your team (I do that with politics and the Olympics and awards shows, and despite protestations from some men the reality is it's the exact same mentality).  I just have never really been into it.  I don't revel in this (I have talked about how much I hate people celebrating their own ignorance), but I find that it isn't how I enjoy spending my Sundays (I'd prefer a matinee or a work-out or a good book in my library), and usually if I know the name of a player it's either because they have crossed into mainstream pop culture (the Manning brothers, Tim Tebow, Tom Brady), are or were romantically involved with a celebrity (Jason Sehorn, Tony Romo,  also Tom Brady), or are super cute (Mark Sanchez, Christian Ponder, Russell Wilson, once again Tom Brady).  Unfortunately, after this past week, one additional player has crossed that threshold into pop culture, and not in a way to be celebrated: Ray Rice.

I prefaced this article by saying that I am not a football fan so that I can get something out of the way: I have no idea what kind of football player Ray Rice and have never seen him play a game.  I do know that he is a former Super Bowl Champion and competed in three Pro Bowls.  I know he was a second round draft pick.  I know he's an important enough player (skills-wise) that he, at 27, is still being talked about whether or not he would be back in the league in a year and is a player that is followed with frequency by ESPN (which I do occasionally watch-it's on in my gym).  I am aware of all of this.

However, this is no excuse for what Rice did, and I'm tired of people talking about his assault of his now-wife as if it's some slight discretion.  I was watching an interview on CNN (I was again at the gym so I didn't catch the name of the fellow being interviewed and couldn't rewind, but he was a sports reporter for the channel) and he seemed to be lamenting and talking about Rice's inevitable comeback.  This is unacceptable both because this just happened, and because I don't think that Rice deserves a comeback.  Honestly, I am sick-and-tired of certain crimes getting a pass in the media while others are put through the ringer, but particularly domestic abuse and crimes against women getting a blase response.  According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence over 1.3 million American women experience domestic violence every year.  That's the equivalent of the entire population of San Diego.  That is completely unacceptable, and quite frankly, if it were a disease, we'd consider it a pandemic.

And that, in my opinion, is why I don't get the vitriol that has been thrown at Janay Rice and I don't get the malaise from people like the CNN sports reporter or people like Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy, who reached a new level of jackassery that even FOX News shouldn't tolerate.  This is a deeply serious issue, and one that we should be looking to stem and stop.  I am not asking for Ray Rice to be made an example of; what I am asking is that the NFL not tolerate domestic abuse or domestic violence from any of its players, and this goes for all sports leagues and from all of us as a populace.  Domestic violence statistics like the one above should stop all of us in our tracks and make all of us outraged and want to do something to prevent it.  We teach children as young as toddlers that violence is never the answer, so why would we remotely accept it from adults?  And why would we want to not only accept, but celebrate the adults that commit it?

Because that's what would happen if Rice returned to football.  I am not saying that Rice eventually doesn't deserve a second chance in some profession, but having Rice return to the field and be cheered on by football fans and make millions of dollars for doing so reeks of water-under-the-bridge and dismissing his actions, and I'm not having it.  I don't get people who can celebrate a man who did something like this, and no argument about "celebrate the game, not the person" is going to convince me otherwise.  I don't care if he delivers the Ravens ten more Super Bowls if/when he returns to football-how can someone feel good about winning with a domestic abuser as a part of the victory?  Football is not a traditional job where you perform a task that is part of a bigger industrial operation.  It is a form of entertainment, one that is driven entirely by people wanting to cheer on and support a particular person.  And I could never, in good conscience, support a person and an industry that supported domestic abuse or supported minimal punishment for domestic abuse.

So while I do believe in second chances in life, Ray Rice should not get one as a professional football player.  And based on the evidence put forward from the AP article, Roger Goodell should resign as NFL Commissioner.  There are things that are bigger than football, bigger than movies, bigger than one person and bigger than entertainment, and taking a stand against domestic violence is one of them.  End of story.

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