By Michelle Rojas
Unless you live under a rock; news about the NFL is currently everywhere. NFL controversies ranging from DUI’s to drug abuse are sporadically talked about; though, lately things have taken a turn for the worse. The NFL is strongly in the public eye due to a video released of Ray Rice coldly knocking out his then fiancée, and now wife, Janay Palmer in an elevator. In the video, he proceeds to drag her unconscious, comatose, limp body out of the elevator and lays her down on the floor of a hallway…
When I watched the video it gave me chills. Yet, the part that disturbed me the most was the fact that Janay still married him after the incident. I am well aware that every relationship is private and that no one, unless they are Ray or Janay, will ever understand its inner workings. But I believe a line has been crossed, that line being violence. Under any circumstances, unless it is for self-defense, is it acceptable for a human being to hit another human being. Never resorting to violence is something that is taught to us since kindergarten.
To make matters worse, this is not the first time that the NFL has faced domestic violence issues amongst its players. Domestic violence occurrences date back decades, and happen to be the NFL’s largest off field issue. Twelve players from a variety of teams have faced domestic violence charges since 2005. Most are still playing, some faced short sentences and returned to playing, and others have yet to face the judicial system1.
The second biggest problem of this situation (the first being domestic abuse, and abuse in general) is that society seems to only care about these issues solely when they are thrust into the center of all media. In the article “The Challenge of Cultural Elites: Celebrities and Social Movements,” David Meyer states that the “chief asset that celebrities can offer social movements is the visibility that comes with their participation; they carry a spotlight with them.2” Whether negative or positive, everything that a celebrity does, in this case an athlete, is completely magnified. Still, watching that horrendous video does not teach you that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime; women are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than men; every year, 1 in 3 women who is a victim of homicide is murdered by her current or former partner; or that 1 in 10 men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime3. These are statistics that have been around, and increasing, for years; even long before Ray Rice learned to catch a football.
In a crazy way, this incident has helped to raise awareness about abuse. Nonetheless, it is extremely sad that this had to occur in order for society to turn its head. What will happen in a couple weeks when this incident isn’t all over the news, will society simply move on to the next scandal?
If you or someone you know needs help, call the domestic violence hotline:
Michelle is junior at the University of Pittsburgh double majoring in social work and sociology.