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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Ray Rice controversy shatters fans’ faith in the NFL

Ray+Rice+will+likely+never+play+in+the+NFL+again
Ray Rice will likely never play in the NFL again

Brandon Marshall was involved in several domestic violence incidents. He received a three-game suspension that was later reduced to one game.
Rod Smith was accused of throwing his former girlfriend around, banging her head on the floor and choking her. Smith pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of verbal abuse, was sentenced to two years probation, and was ordered to attend 36 hours of counseling. He was ordered to pay a $25,000 conditional fine, which he wouldn’t have to pay if he obeyed his probation. No suspension.
Dez Bryant was arrested on charges of misdemeanor domestic violence after he allegedly hit his mother and pulled her hair. He wasn’t suspended.
Ray McDonald was arrested on an accusation of felony domestic violence three days after the National Football League implemented a new domestic violence policy. He has not yet been penalized.
Greg Hardy was found guilty of domestic violence against his former girlfriend in July. He played in Carolina’s first game.
Ray Rice knocked out his then-fiancée. He was suspended for two games.
However, things took a turn on Monday, Sept. 8, when the Ravens terminated Rice’s contract and shortly after, the NFL suspended the former Baltimore Raven indefinitely.
Ray Rice’s recent situation is only a microcosm of the failure Commissioner Roger Goodell has made in previous domestic violence cases.
The NFL’s lack of response to violence against women has been widely questioned since placing the initial two-game suspension on Rice. It was a fact that Rice had assaulted his wife. Not a rumor: a fact.
When discussing the unfortunate situation surrounding the NFL, Jessica Richards, a 25 year old from Brockton, said she is “utterly disgusted.”
“Domestic violence seems to be a recurring theme in the NFL and it seems that little has been done about it in past years,” Richards said.
For her as a NFL fan, “It’s just hard to continuously separate someone as a player of the NFL and a scumbag of a human being.”
But if domestic violence has been prevalent in the league, why did the NFL wait until it received criticism for its soft suspension on Rice to impose a new domestic violence policy? Why did it take a video that confirmed everything the NFL knew about the Rice situation for the NFL to force a harsher punishment against the three-time pro-bowl running back?
Richards thinks it’s because the NFL doesn’t know how to react to domestic violence because it’s not directly effecting a player’s ability to perform.
“In regards to drugs it seems like they’re a little sterner because of the fact it may affect the players performance,” Richards said. “I feel that when it comes down to domestic issues they really do not know how to handle the situation because those are problems within the household.”
Some people are calling for Goodell’s job. Some are calling for a boycott of the league. And many are questioning whether the league, which has its players don pink in the month of October for breast cancer, truly cares about women.
“I feel that [Goodell] should be fired,” Richards said after reading reports about the voicemail of NFL personnel. “He does deserve the entire backlash he is getting for not handling the issue prior to this. It just looks extremely bad for a gossip site to obtain and release another piece of footage of the same NFL player beating his wife. It’s also ridiculous and shows a lack of concern.”
Though Richards believes that Goodell should lose his job, she feels that a boycott of the league might be a bit extreme.
“I feel that the boycott is a little excessive. I would not boycott the NFL because it’s not fair to the other players that have nothing to with the issue at hand.”
But she does understand why people are calling for a league boycott.
“There are many victims of domestic violence that feel very strongly about this incident. They have also seen the NFL deal very poorly with domestic violence issues in the past. I just think that going to that extreme is a reflection of the built up anger in disappointment people have toward the NFL in regards to handling these situations,” Richards said.
Angela Halliday, who isn’t an active NFL fan, agrees a boycott isn’t the route people should take and she expressed that changes need to be made.
“Above all, it’s the culture of this country and the attitudes of the people that need to change,” Halliday said. “Will an NFL boycott result in widespread education, awareness, and aid in preventing and decreasing the amount of domestic violence experience by people in this country?”
While Halliday says the NFL would likely take a hit financially, she thinks boycotting the league would be a negative long-term move for future domestic violence victims.
“This could very well result in the silence of more victims as they are put in a very difficult position…A lot of victims choose to remain silent due to public ridicule and victim blaming. Their strength, their logic, their motives are questioned-whether they report the crime or not,” Halliday said.
“It’s a double-edged sword. I don’t think a boycott is excessive, but far more needs to be done than that to create change. Especially in a sport that’s considered the epitome of masculinity and strength.”
When it comes to a sport that is considered one of the manliest, if not the manliest sport, Halliday believes that the league does fail to show care for women.
“After seeing the NFL’s handling of Ray Rice and the videotape footage, it just reiterates the message that above all, money matters. And more importantly, that women do not matter. The fact that an athlete’s morals are questioned and his career is halted for drug use, but not the beating of their significant other, is shameful,” Halliday said.
Though Halliday and many believe the NFL lacks tact towards women, Richards doesn’t think the NFL purposely tries to demean women. She thinks that social media has played a role in the way people view the NFL.
“Because of social media there is a cognition that the NFL doesn’t value women and are in support of the violence that occurs outside of the league’s expectations of players. I don’t feel that the NFL intentionally tries to make it seem that they do not care about women, they just have not found the middle ground in terms of punishment,” Richards added.
Goodell should be held accountable for failing to rightly punish players who have been involved in domestic violence incidents, but the league’s failure to rightfully handle Rice’s situation has shifted the attention from Ray Rice and domestic violence. Domestic violence is bigger than football; it’s bigger than sports. While criticism for the league’s mishandling is warranted and while questions surrounding the league’s apathy for women are reasonable, the issue is domestic violence. It always was.