Why the NFL Needs to Care

Everyone from CBS’ James Brown to the New York Times to Cosmopolitan magazine have ran articles and voiced their opinion about the recent slew of abuse charges to hit the NFL.

Ray Rice’s now infamous TMZ video of him knocking out his wife in an elevator is not the only case the NFL has been hit with. Arizona Cardinals  running back Jonathan Dwyer was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list after being arrested on Sept. 17 for charges of aggravated assault.

Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was also added to the NFL’s exempt list, and will sit out until his domestic violence case is resolved later this fall. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was indicted on Sept. 12 for child abuse charges and is set to have a 2015 court date.

If anyone thinks that the most recent events to hit the NFL should be brushed aside, then clearly the nation’s domestic abuse problem has a long way to go.

We cannot just accept the fact that there are bad people out there who are going to do bad things. We cannot just make it a women’s issue, because it is not and the NFL is not a men-only institution. It has a viewership that is 40 percent female and it counts CoverGirl as one of it sponsors.

If the NFL exempts its players from facing consequences after physically abusing another person, then that tells everyone around the country that it is not only okay to abuse someone, but it is also alright to be abused and that testimony is not enough.

We have to demand for harsher consequences. We have to demand that incidents like this are not sidestepped and that players are not kept on the field when they should be in court.

[su_pullquote]Many people are criticizing that domestic violence is only becoming an issue in the NFL because of the Ray Rice video, and they are right.[/su_pullquote]Many people are criticizing that domestic violence is only becoming an issue in the NFL because of the Ray Rice video, and they are right. It is awful that domestic abuse receives national attention only after a video is released of a well-known football player knocking his wife unconscious.

Yes, it is unfortunate that the NFL only made any action to right their wrongs after the whole country saw what they refused to see, but at least something is finally being done.

After a week of harsh criticism and bad publicity, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced in a letter to team owners and staffers that there would be four women appointed to tackle the league’s domestic violence programs.

Anna Isaacson was the NFL’s vice president of community affairs and philanthropy and has now assumed the role as vice president of social responsibility. She will be overseeing educational initiatives on domestic violence and to decrease violent instances. She will be aided by senior advisors Lisa Friel, Jane Randel and Rita Smith, who all have experience working on the issue at hand.

Friel is the former head of sex crime investigation for the Manhattan District Attorney. Randel co-founded the domestic violence and sexual assault non-profit NO MORE in 2009. Smith is the former executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She happens to be a Spartan and received her bachelors degree in psychology from Michigan State in 1976.

Hiring four women to solve their domestic abuse problem is not an absolute solution and should not be used as a quick cover-up for something that should be long-term.

Domestic violence is not a new issue and it affects people of every age, race, economic status and nationality. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, on average nearly 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner. During one year, this equates to 10 million women and men.

That is why this is an issue that the NFL needs to deal with, because clearly their players and their fans are not exempt from those numbers.

Alexa McCarthy is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.