The Ray Rice Factor

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It is quite likely that I’m in the minority when I say I had no qualms with the length of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice’s punishment from his employer.  The NFL, specifically Commissioner Roger Goodell, handed down a two game suspension….and apparently the consensus is, it should have been longer. 

Next question…how much longer?  In the last week or so I’ve heard many rumblings with the number four thrown in the conversation.  Is it because four just sounds better—after all, it is a fourth of the season? Sure hope that isn’t what is leading the chorus of “4”…it has a disingenuous feel to it. 

Hmmm, frankly the whole storyline has a disingenuous feel.... the storyline not the story.  Domestic abuse is a serious issue across all demographics, race, socioeconomic status, etc.  Yet, the cynic in me can’t help but shake my head at sports talk show after sports talk show that has used this topic as a talking point…primarily, if not only, because it is a slow sports news cycle.  True NFL fans know with certainty this story would not have been able to pick up any steam if it were, let’s say, the first week of the new season! That, my friends, is the very essence of disingenuous.  A topic as serious as domestic abuse should always be a topic and not just because the first down hasn’t been played in a NFL game.  I wonder how much news time this matter will generate six weeks from now…unfortunately, domestic abuse will not end when we’re all donning the jerseys of our favorite players, talking trash with friends who happen to be fans of an arch rival, with a cooler full of adult beverages serving as the backdrop…in fact, statistics show domestic violence worsens!

Under no circumstances can Ray Rice’s actions be condoned.  Hopefully, he has learned a valuable lesson and will emerge a much better person.  He absolutely does not owe us anything else in the form of public acknowledgement of his wrongdoings…both the justice system and his employer have weighed in on the situation and ruled accordingly. 

The topic has generated a lot of discussion and some items are in desperate need of follow-up:

NFL policies addressing domestic abuse remain unclear…at least to me.  If the league is without said policies, it needs to be made a priority---yesterday!

While provocation is definitely a poor choice of words….abusers don’t need to be provoked—abusing select others is a way of life for them.  Responsibility is far more suitable.  Allegedly, the now Mrs. Rice struck her than fiancée.  If there is any truth to the allegation, the matter of everyone being responsible for his or her actions is then catapulted to the forefront. 

The self-defense laws of the land don’t allow for an exemption based on gender.  Teaching our young girls otherwise…somehow conveying a message that they can assault a male at will and he has no right to ever defend himself….does a disservice to them, is socially irresponsible and downright dangerous! 

I can vividly remember several times during my childhood walking towards the house wares section of a fine department store….my parents would tell my sister and I to “keep your hands in your pocket” as a way to ensure we wouldn’t knock anything over and cause a costly mistake.  As simple as they are, those same six words are applicable when two adults find themselves in a heated exchange…put your hands in your pocket, walk away and wait until calmer attitudes can prevail!!

Given the focus on domestic abuse this offseason it would be nice to see the NFL have a consistent message speaking out against it….more public service announcements on that subject and fewer commercials on dysfunction of one’s nether regions would get my vote any day!

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