The past year has brought the issue of domestic violence front and center in the sports world. Before that, domestic violence was a cancer in our society but it was treated more like a petty offense in our sports world.
As ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” reported just after the Ray Rice incident came to light, 88% of player discipline cases involving domestic violence from 2000-2014 resulted in either no game suspension or no more than a one game suspension. Over those same years, substance abuse or performance enhancing drug violations resulted in four or more game suspensions in over 80% of the cases.
I am not new to the bandwagon of people speaking out against domestic violence. I wrote about this one year ago, before the NFL got their act somewhat together. (See my August 1, 2014 story entitled “I Am Steamed Over NFL Suspension of Ray Rice”) But a great deal has changed in the past year.
Ray Rice’s picture is now treated like he is part of America’s Most Wanted rather than being one of the most wanted athletes on the field. Professional athletes being subjected to lengthy suspensions are now the norm for domestic violence cases, assuming the player is even fortunate enough not to be cut from the team immediately upon being charged with a domestic violence offense. Just ask former Cardinal Jonathan Dwyer. Women athletes have also been on the hot seat. Just ask Brittney Griner of the Mercury, who just finished a suspension over a domestic violence issue.
A groundswell of support for the anti-violence movement is reflected in NoMore.org, an organization dedicated to raising awareness and “combatting” domestic violence. Professional sports has not invented the movement or even led the way. But they are all getting on-board.
Reducing and perhaps even ending violence against women is all of our responsibilities, but not because violations of this principle will result in suspensions. It is the unassailable right thing to do.
I am asking each high school athlete, each parent and each coach to watch the video that accompanies this story above. Yes, it is in a foreign language; yes, it has subtitles; yes, it will take a few minutes of your time; yes, it lacks a cute cat or an amazing acrobatic sports move. But no, you can’t miss it. Watch it, discuss it, live it.