As a dad and a huge football fan, I find myself continually disturbed by the ongoing developments in the Ray Rice story. While I commend the Ravens this week for releasing Rice, I only wish they would have done so five months ago when the story first broke. I think we can all agree that there is no place in sports or our society for such behavior.
That being said, I am very conflicted by the media coverage that I have seen. On the one hand, I appreciate the fact that domestic violence has garnered so much attention and people understand the devastating affects it has on families and our society. Yet on the other hand, I feel the bigger issue here is not just domestic violence but violence itself.
Before I get pegged as some radical, peacenik hippie from Berkeley. I am none of those things. I love football. I played in high school and I have been a fan all my life. I can appreciate a good hit -- on the field that is. I am not the guy who's trying to ban UFC fights or video games. I am just a dad who is concerned about my kid growing up in a society that is numb to violence of all kinds.
Since the Rice video was released and the world witnessed him beating his then fiancé, the media attention has been squarely focused on domestic violence. The more light that is shone on the issue the better. There is an incredible amount of education that is still needed in this arena and as tragic as these events have been, the hope is good will come from it. It is with that sentiment that I would like to push the conversation beyond domestic violence.
Nowhere should this type of brutality that we witnessed be acceptable. When it's a fight between two men, regardless of the victims' size, age or ability -- we should take notice and condemn the aggressor with the same severity. It just seems as though if both have a penis it's fair game. Ask yourselves if the uproar would have been the same if the victim were his smaller, less athletic brother that was smacked unconscious?
In 2010, Francisco Rodriguez was closing games for the New York Mets when he was in a "one-sided" altercation with his father-in-law at Citi Field. The story made some headlines and cost the pitcher a few games but ultimately he continued pitching for the Mets until he was traded the following year to the pennant chasing Brewers. Notably, that Milwaukee team that traded for him is partially owned by Bud Selig, the baseball commissioner. To add insult to injury, K-Rod finished that season making about $11.5 million and was rewarded the following year by the commissioner's team with another multi-million dollar contract. Apparently beating up a man that is half your size and twice your age isn't a crime worthy of a serious suspension or expulsion.
I suspect that many people simply have a visceral reaction to women being hurt and for good reason. But as a society do we no longer cringe when David is getting his ass kicked by Goliath? Is that because all men are more capable of defending themselves? Men regardless of the situation "know what they are getting into" just because they are men? Does a fair fight matter? Is it even about a fair fight?
In the progress column, earlier this month the NFL, after great pressure, came out with a stricter domestic violence policy. Players would receive a six game suspension for their first offence and a one-year banishment for a second one. I would argue that is not strict enough. And I would go further and say this policy should go beyond just domestic violence and cover all violence that is in line with what we witnessed in the Rice video.
The attention on domestic violence is incredibly important and needs to be seen and heard. But I believe we need to broaden the conversation. Let's tap into the fury that Mr. Rice has created and use our disgust that we all feel to stand up and stop the glorification of brutality.