It has been a slightly strange week, and I am meant to be writing my Week 2 Picks blog, but I don’t feel I can get started until I have addressed something that simply can’t be ignored. I’ll get back to writing about my competition with Dan and what’s going on around the league shortly, but first I have to address the recent news surrounding the Baltimore Ravens.
It is not actually news that the NFL has a problem with women. The league’s handling of previous incidences of domestic violence has not exactly been progressive, and the two game ban that was given to Ray Rice this summer was widely criticised at the time. I have not watched the video of him dragging his unconscious, then fiancé now wife, out of an elevator. Nor have I watched the video released on Monday by TMZ that showed him punching his wife to render her unconscious. Finally stung into action, the Baltimore Ravens have released him from their roster and the NFL have belatedly suspended him indefinitely, whilst they figure out what they can do. I have no wish to watch these videos; the bare facts in words are enough information for me.
I have a lot of thoughts on this situation. Things to do with the rookie program, the structure of society, the actions of both the Ravens and the league, and the repeated incidents of still active NFL players. The problem is that I don’t feel qualified to write them yet. One of the famous tenants of the Hippocratic Oath is to do no harm. I had got as far as beginning to research guidance for writing about domestic violence before the events of Monday. I was already aware that I was skirting around the issue when writing about Rice’s suspension last week, but I had not had a chance to study the documents I had found properly, and frankly what the world needs least right now is another unqualified person sounding off.
Frankly this isn’t good enough. My sister in law writes frequently about feminism and her twitter feed (and by extension mine) is an education. I don’t know always know where I stand when reading these articles, and I am fairly certain that men telling women what to do, think, and behave is how we got into this mess in the first place, but, I do believe in equality. I believe there are structural problems in our society affecting many people who are not lucky enough to be white middle class men, and we have to address them.
What the NFL needs to do is to address the issue of domestic violence directly, not with a hastily brought out new domestic violence policy, but with people taking responsibility for their previous actions, and a proper review that involves talking to people who know the issues at hands intimately and know what the proper response is. There is an aspect of the culture that goes with the game that I love, that is simply not acceptable to anyone with a sense of fairness. It’s not unique to the sport of American Football, but that does not mean we shouldn’t make a stand. It means those of us who love the league, taking a long hard look at ourselves and fighting against those aspects that are abhorrent to us.
For me this means I have a lot of reading and research to do. This problem is not going to just go away and so I want to be in a position to write effectively and safely about it the next time it happens, and the next time, and then again, until hopefully one day we don’t have to do this any more because we really shouldn’t have to.