Violence Against Women and Children and Professional Sports

As I watch the continuing coverage of incidents of the violence carried out by NFL players against their significant others and their children, my thoughts on the subject came to a head after watching the press conference by Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Let me state up front that I believe that any violence against women or children is unacceptable. You can rationalize it in the name of discipline or anger, but the bottom line is, when a big strong man strikes a woman or a child he is a coward and is too lazy to work through his problems in a more civilized manner. There are no exceptions to this rule for me.

Now, let’s look at the culture of the NFL. All professional sports are competitive. Football, however, excels in terms of violence. One of the main objectives of the game is to find the man who is carrying the object that you want and violently grab and throw him to the ground. The players grow to gargantuan sizes and religiously go through strength training toward this goal. They spend seven to eight months per year with their team practicing this skill.

Some might say that it is unreasonable to ask them to suppress the violence that is part of their job when interacting with their families. They are so conditioned to the violent game that they participate in, that they can’t be asked to turn it off.

I say that this is not an excuse. There are plenty of NFL players that have gone on to become exceptional husbands and fathers and have been able to compartmentalize their job and private lives.

In the case of Adrian Peterson, he used the excuse that he was disciplining his children the way that he was disciplined. When he took a tree branch and struck his young son enough to leave marks on his body, he crossed the line of acceptability. It doesn’t matter if he was disciplined this way. When he was young, this was also abuse. Perpetuating it on his son doesn’t make it right.

I think that, in the case of professional sports, there is an underlying issue. This may come across as controversial, but I believe that it is valid. These athletes are among the most conditioned, fine-tuned physical specimens in existence. They are timed, measured, and tested for their ability to perform at the highest athletic level. There is even psychological testing that measures the players ability to react to certain game-related situations and their ability to stand up under the constant competitive pressure. They are NOT, however, tested for their propensity to be a good citizen. Many professions require this kind of testing so that prospects with criminal or violent tendencies are eliminated from contention. The NFL, which requires players to become muscle-bound 300 pound lethal weapons does not routinely test players for their mental stability. This seems a bit irresponsible.

So, as we listen to Roger Goodell make job-saving statements saying that he was wrong and that the NFL screwed up, my reaction is that this is too little and too late. Where was he months ago when the Ray Rice video first surfaced? Where has he been the past several weeks since it was made public? Why does he still have a job? This happened on his watch. It is inexcusable that he has taken this long to react to it. It is apparent that he waited until he talked to all of the right anti-violence groups and likely promised their leadership Super Bowl tickets in exchange for their alliance in combating this issue. I say that he should lose his job, strict rules should be established for every NFL contract, and any player violating these rules should be sent packing.

I know that some of you will have opposing opinions. We all heard Ray Rice’s wife make excuses for her husband. What I heard was her enabling him and also seeking to protect that large paycheck that he brings home every week. I can’t imagine that his demeanor will improve when you take away his income from his current personal situation.

I look forward to having a discussion with my readers on this subject. One thing that I want you to keep in mind when you comment, I have had situations in my own family with violence and abuse against those close to me. Do I have forgiveness for those who perpetrated these acts? No. When I look at the faces of the victims, I have no forgiveness in my heart. They will carry the memories of what happened to them in their hearts for the rest of their lives.

About Don Massenzio

Don Massenzio was born in Syracuse, New York, to first generation Italian American parents. He is an avid reader. Some of his favorite authors include Harlan Coben, David Morrell, Stephen King, and Hugh Howey. His favorite book of all time is ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.

Don began writing as a way to combat the long hours of travel and numerous hotel stays that are part of the ‘glamorous’ world of corporate travel. He uses writing as a therapeutic outlet. He recently took the jump to sharing his work with others.

His first published long work is the novel, Frankly Speaking. It is the first of what will be a series of books focused on the character, Frank Rozzani, a Florida private detective. The book is a throwback to the days of pulp detective novels with a tip of the hat to Jim Rockford from 70’s television and The Rockford Files.

The second Frank Rozzani detective novel will be out in October and can be pre-ordered soon. Prior to finishing this book, his published work was comprised of short stories that will be merged into a collection in the near future.

Find out more about Don at his web site:

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