No, not deflated footballs. Not cutting the only openly gay player ever drafted to an NFL team. Not dwindling youth football participation due to fears of head injuries.
The NFL has a problem with domestic violence and I have a problem with the way the NFL is wasting an opportunity to lead the conversation away from women and instead focus on men.
At the beginning of the season, we all watched as Ray Rice dragged his unconscious partner out of an elevator and we recoiled in horror of the injury reports after Adrian Peterson admitted to beating his child. These, we learned, were not isolated events. There is a deep bench in the NFL’s domestic abuser roster. The media and fans turned their attention to the front office and waited to hear what the League would do to curb domestic abuse.
This is what they gave us:
The No More campaign. TV spots where players project silent anguish into the camera. Then text, directing us to a website where we are asked to pledge to speak up if we see domestic violence.
What they are not doing is talking to abusers.
The NFL is doing everything in its power to avoid talking to men about domestic abuse. The NFL, with its incomparable hold on the American male psyche, is talking to everyone but men who abuse. They’re talking to women. They’re talking to men who don’t abuse. They’re not talking to abusers and, moreover, they’re not talking to potential abusers.
Yes, there is value in telling us all that domestic violence is unacceptable and reminding us all that as friends, siblings, mothers, and fathers, we have a responsibility to help those we love if they are in an abusive relationship. But we already knew that. The message that really needs to go out over the air waves is this: Assaulting your partner or your child is not OK. Ever.
The Super Bowl is coming up this weekend and the NFL also has commissioned a chilling and moving ad. Watch it and you’ll see what I mean. However, I hate it. I hate that it doesn’t say what needs to be said. I would like to see an ad where a series of players address the camera and say “It’s not OK to hurt your wife. It’s not OK to hurt your girlfriend. It’s not OK to hurt your kids. If you see your buddy or your brother or your coworker hurting their partners or kids, call them out. If that doesn’t stop it, call the cops. No more.”
Those words coming from NFL players would resonate with men. Maybe more importantly, they would resonate with boys. We don’t stop abuse by reminding sisters and girlfriends to watch each others’ backs. That’s just another way of shifting the responsibility away from abusers. We stop it by talking to abusers and potential abusers directly. And it’s not hard to say it. Here. I’ll do it right now.
Domestic violence is not OK. Don’t do it.
Was that so hard, NFL?
Rebekah Kuschmider is a DC area mom with an over-developed sense of irreverence, socialist tendencies, a cable news addiction, and a blog. Rebekah has an undergraduate degree in theater and Master’s in Arts Policy and Administration and a decade of experience managing arts organizations and advocating in the public health sector. Rebekah also blogs about her life, her thoughts, and her opinions at StayAtHomePundit.com. She was voted one of the Top 25 Political Mom Blogs at Circle of Moms. Her work has also been seen at Babble.com , Salon.com, Redbook online, and the Huffington Post.