UnAmerican Football

A lot has been said this year about the NFL already, and very little of it has had anything to do with the game that is being played.  The first thing that is being talked about is Ray Rice.  I’m going to start there because we really do have to break this down piece by piece to understand just how much these recent dealings have affected our national way of life and understanding.

Ray, unfortunately, hit his then fiance in the elevator, striking her unconscious and then dragging her out of the elevator.  We knew this way back in February.  We saw some of the tape then.  I had seen the tape that everyone is so up in arms about then.  It was not some big secret.  Even if it was, Ray came out in his police statement and said that he struck a woman unconscious by his fists.  If I, as a nobody, can read that report online, then I’m sure that if you are a billionaire that stands to lose millions of dollars in endorsements based upon your player’s popularity, has somebody on the pay role whose sole job is investigating this sort of thing.  We all knew what he did way back then, but we didn’t have it shoved in our faces like in the current news cycle telling us how and what to think about it.

I want to be very clear in saying that I am not trying to defend what Ray Rice did.  I am an avid Steelers fan, and was never a fan of Rice’s.  On a side note, I should also probably point out that I am also not a Christian, and all the talk that Rice and former Safety/Guru Ray Lewis gave about football and God strikes me that these two men are wife beaters and murders, and how much religious piousness has lead these two to commit heinous acts despite all of their outward zealousness.  It stands to my reasoning that the more rigid and repressed your religious beliefs are, the more you are likely to act out when no one is looking.

Ray also does not deserve the hate that he is getting.  Working in investigation, I can tell you that the first time someone gets caught doing something wrong is very rarely the first time that they have ever done the infraction.  Though legally we can’t prove otherwise.  For all that any of us know from that tape, his wife was drunk, as was he, and spouting all sorts of vitriol towards him to which he responded without thinking.  That is not an excuse for his actions, but they are a description of them.  He was week, lacked self control and did something wrong.  I agree that the man should be punished.  If initially, he had been suspended for 8 games or the whole season, I would not have protested it in the slightest.

The reason that I am protesting this has to do with the mob mentality and the harm that this is doing towards victims of abuse.  Now, in terms of Ray Rice, his wife, who married him for what I imagine is for little more than money, is going to face the same fiscal cuts as Rice.  I think that she is a big girl, and capable of making her own decisions on the matter, and in turn, is being handsomely rewarded for her silence and support of Rice.  Hardly the face of abused women in this country, being paid millions for their silence.  Mark my word though, in ten or more years, when the man’s money has run dry, she will end up on talk shows talking about how scared she was for her life and how he forced her to support him.  I’m sure such details will be in support of her new book, for which she will make millions more.

The only reason that Ray Rice’s suspension was extended was because of the response from people, most of whom do not watch football.  Despite all of the negative press that all of this has gotten, the ratings for the NFL have stayed about the same.  They haven’t gone up or down.  The fans of the game don’t really care.  What this means is that with the NFL trying to expand past the primary audience of football fans and trying to incorporate a larger female audience that might contribute to those enormous SuperBowl ratings that we see every year.  That game is an event that has become larger than the sport it represents.  Since football is the largest sport in America, that game is all about this country, whether you watch the sport or not.  It is about watching the game, not who is playing.  I mean for most of us, our team will not be in the big game, but we watch because it is supposed to be the culmination of the two best teams in the league giving it their all for their chance at glory in the history books.  We love winners and closers.   Women play largely into the statistics of untapped potential supporters.

I also want to be clear here and state that I know that some of the most loyal football fans in the world are women, my wife being one of them.  I’m not going to belittle that demographic and suggest that there are not many of you that love the game and your team and know as much about the game if not more than I do.  What I will also say is that the women the NFL is courting right now is not like that.  These are the types of fans for which the New England Patriots, along with their color coordination and sexy quarterback schtick, have finessed them into the game.

This is entertainment that costs people in the real world.  For all of the big hits that we see, real people are being hurt, potentially ending their careers, abilities to support their families, or injuring them so completely that they have drastic health issues for the rest of their lives.  We have somehow made our peace with all of that, and so have the athletes for that matter, though an increasing number are finding themselves broke from overspending and not preparing for their careers to end when the eventually do.

The second aspect to this is the Adrien Peterson thing with his kid.  I have not seen the picture, nor do I care to.  Pictures rarely give an accurate portrayal of what they are showcasing.  I am also a firm believer that, for the most part, the state has no place in dictating how a parent raises their child.  For what I can tell, Peterson is actively trying to raise his kids.  I know that he has a bunch of them from a lot of stupid decisions that he should have learned from a lot sooner than he did, but he did have the will and resources to be a dad.  I’m going to dismiss the idea that he has a history of abuse because the first incident didn’t come out until the second did.  That mother was not worried about her child, she was worried about her pay check, or she would have gone to the cops a long time ago.

Now for the real question.  Does taking away Peterson’s ability to make money really help these kids.  I mean these mothers, who obviously were with him because he was rich and famous and got pregnant as a paycheck for life, are not thinking about the big picture.  They are going to rob him dry, and without him getting paid, the well will run out.  There will be no more money and I don’t see how that is in any way better for the children.

I have never been a fan of lynch mobs.  The more that you give in, the more that the demand from you.  Punishments are supposed to be balanced.  This conversation really isn’t about victims.  Social consciousness for this issue really hasn’t surpassed the idea that it is socially unacceptable and a hot button issue.  That is it.  People calling in talking about how they too have lost their temper and really yelled at their kids, as if emotional abuse was so much better.  We are marginalizing the issue and the intricacies of people and relationships.

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