Off the Field Violence
America is the home of the brave, and the land of the free. Every citizen has the right to a fair trial. The NFL must not have taken that into account with how they handle punishments for its players, especially regarding domestic violence.
The NFL has one of the largest fan bases in American sports. Thus giving them a platform for addressing societal issues, enter Colin Kaepernick. Whether you agree with Kaepernick’s tactics advocating for the “Black Lives Matter” campaign he is a great example of using your platform to bring attention to specific issues. The media exposure of his actions at the very least has got Americans talking. Roger Goodell has been ridiculed for the way cases of domestic violence have resulted as of recently. This added attention came in result to the Ray Rice incident.
Jane McManus wrote an article for ESPN sharing how complicated these cases can be. After the Rice case the NFL implemented a minimum six-game suspension for domestic violence cases in the player conduct policy. A knee jerk reaction without a doubt. Higher ups in the NFL didn’t do their research apparently because after a punishment is handed down by the league a player is granted his right to due-process. McManus helps people understnad that these cases have a lot of grey area. She points out that a lot of these cases don’t make it to trial because of victims financial situation. Going to trial and through the appeals process can be damaging to victims and damaging to bank accounts.
Former New York Jet line back Jermaine Cunningham initially received a six-game suspension for his case, but after pleading guilty he only got four-games. What kind of message does that send to young football fans? Don’t worry you get a break on a punishment because its your first time and you are a good guy. Men abusing women is not okay, no matter how twist it or shape it. The NFL should be vocal and direct with the way they handle these cases.
Greg Hardy’s domestic violence case was another high profile case by an NFL star. This time Hardy was found guilty by a judge for threatening and assaulting his ex-girlfriend, but when Hardy appealed the ruling she stopped cooperating with the District Attorneys office trying the case. Goodell sentenced Hardy to a ten-game suspension that was later cut four. As much as this falls on the NFL for not doing their research for the policy, it raises questions about our judicial system.
Ex-Stanford swimmer Brock Turner is another case of poor judgement that sends the wrong message to college athletes across the country. Turner was found guilty of rape, not just domestic violence, and was only served three months in a county jail. This is quite unsettling because not only are professional athletes sending messages to young people, but our judicial system is showing special treatment to college athletes.
The NFL has made strides to bring awareness of domestic abuse through mandatory informational meetings. Our country is at a cross-roads with how we are going to change behaviors of our citizens surrounding certain issues. Professional and collegiate sports have a great opportunity to stand up against domestic violence, and its about time they did something about it.