Football is awesome, right? We can’t get enough of it in this country. It’s a year-round obsession, even though the regular season is only 16 games spanning three or four months.
Each game is hyped and treated as if they are a can’t miss event featuring some of the best athletes in the world. Those athletes can (and do) put on quite a show on the field on Sundays. Everybody is entertained, the curtain falls and we get back to reality. So do the athletes. And that’s where things have gotten convoluted.
I’m sure that you have heard of the rash of domestic violence incidences plaguing the National Football League over the past year or so. A seemingly endless parade of football players that cannot seem to avoid involvement in one domestic violence issue or another.
Ray Rice, Ray McDonald, Greg Hardy, Bruce Miller and others, the list goes on and on. Too many athletes have made headlines for assaulting women, allegedly or otherwise. The recent outcry against this trend (that apparently has been ongoing in the NFL for years) has reached a tipping point loud enough to prompt stricter punishments and policies from the league regarding its players.
But that outcry was sorely misdirected.
Why do we look to these sports leagues for accountability in matters like these? At what point did we have elevate these athletes to such lofty positions that we should look to them to be moral beacons of our society? It’s a contradiction of wants and desires; on the field, we want you to be as competitive and rough and tumble as the rules allow.
Be aggressive. Do whatever you can (within the rules) to win.
But the instant those qualities manifest themselves negatively in their social lives, we collectively wag our morally righteous fingers at them. How could you do such things, we say to them. They should know better. They have a responsibility to the kids that look up to them, that want to be like them.
Since when? Do you know who is actually responsible for being a responsible example for the kids? Their parents. Their teachers. The people that occupy actual positions of authority in their lives. Those athletes don’t have a “responsibility” outside of being a productive member of society, and if they run afoul of the law that governs us all, they should be punished accordingly.
Speaking of which, what confused me most was the lack of outcry against our justice system. Where was it? Why is there no chorus of change being directed at the lawmakers and those charged with upholding laws against domestic violence? It felt like pointing the finger at the NFL was a case of low hanging fruit, whereas addressing the laws against domestic violence is a fight for a day that rarely comes.
That’s what the law is for, to handle people that step out of line. That’s where we need to be directing our desire for change, not these athletes. They don’t owe us anything other than a good performance.