The NFL and Domestic Violence

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About Chelsea Cristene

Chelsea Cristene is a community college English and communications professor living in central Maryland. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaCristene.


  1. wellokaythen says:

    At the risk of being called, well, some sort of apologist, I have to point out that there is a real difference between a charge and a conviction.

    This is not meant to disparage the work of dedicated law enforcement personnel or call into question anyone in particular, but even with domestic violence charges the accused is innocent until proven guilty through due process. (Or if the accused confesses.) A charge, even an arrest for something, is not proof, and it is not guilt. Teams might have the right to suspend someone because a player’s current legal problems distract from his job, but the suspension should not be punishment for what he was accused of doing.

    I know it’s easy to assume that big, supposedly “hypermasculine” men who play a violent sport for a living are more likely to engage in partner violence, but we should not immediately assume they are guilty of everything they are charged with.

    That being said, it would be good for the league to take some more active steps, for example have more options for players who know they have psychological problems. There’s nothing wrong with discouraging people from being violent in their personal lives. But, cracking down harder on people who are accused of something, but not convicted of it, is going too far.

  2. wellokaythen says:

    P.S. I’d also like to see any NFL-sponsored DV awareness campaign dedicate even just a little attention to male victims of domestic violence. Players should be given resources so they or men they know can find help if they are victims of domestic violence. Maybe the NFL could have helped save Steve McNair.

  3. This problem needs to be addressed on the college and even the high school level. Addressing it on the pro level is way too late. It all begins with the attitude of giving school athletes preferential treatment and not holding them accountable for the way they treat others away from the game. I saw evidence of this attitude myself when I was in high school. Football coaches in the district had no problem with any of their players bullying other students. I dare say there have been instances of coverups across the country involving players who have committed rape. As we have seen just recently, Steubenville was an example of a coverup that failed. Were it not for Anonymous, it would have succeeded. By the way, the coverup is still taking place to protect the adults who tried to prevent justice from being carried out, as if the football program were far more important than anything else.

    No doubt I will make a lot of people mad by what I’m about to say, but so be it. Many of the fans seem to have a “Winning is everything” attitude, which means they’re really don’t care if their heroes engage in despicable or even criminal actions away from the game. (Witness the Glen Ridge scandal, for example.) School sports are sacred in this country; so, dishonorable conduct by individual players and even coaches away from the game will be ignored or even denied.

    Yes, there have been false accusations of rape; but I’m convinced there have been far more instances of rape committed by athletes in popular school sports that have never been tried or even reported. Besides, juries can always be packed with fans. A young woman who has been raped by one or more football players can expect to be victimized again by incredibly callous fans. The 16-year-old victim in the Steubenville case has received no support from the local community, but is still being vilified even to the point of receiving death threats, despite the guilty verdict. Media figures such as Poppy Harlow and Candy Crowley express more sympathy for the two convicted players than the victim, who will have to live with this trauma for the rest of her life. In the Penn State case, students rioted not because a pedophile coach had been raping young boys, but because their little god JoPa had just been fired. A Penn State coed whose brother was among the victims listened to classmates turn “Sandusky” into a verb, as if it were all a big joke. One of the victims was outed at his high school. A grandmother of one of the Penn State football players walked up to the boy’s mother and said, “Now my grandson’s football team is going to lose, and it’s all your son’s fault!” Instead of receiving sympathy from his classmates, the victim was bullied by fans of Joe Paterno so much that he had to drop out of school, despite the fact that he was a senior about to graduate. Absolutely pathetic! No wonder I’m not a fan! Dogs seem to get more sympathy from football fans than human beings!

    What’s to be done about it? The sports media as a whole needs to start functioning as a journalistic institution instead of as a propaganda mill intent upon turning everyone into a sports fan. That means they need to do investigative reporting and expose scandals of this sort. (There certainly was no investigative reporting of Notre Dame in 1974!) More than a few coaches (not to mention many of the fans and the boosters) need to make it abundantly clear that playing on a team is not a right, but a privilege. Coaches who clearly have no problem with athletes taking advantage of their exalted social position to abuse or harm others should be exposed and fired. “Jock privilege” must end. At least for the reason of eliminating its corrupting influence on school sports. (But fat chance that will ever happen!) It’s way too late to deal with this problem on the pro level. Way too late.

  4. John Schtoll says:

    What a classic example of a woozle being built.

    The headline “NFL and Domestic Violence”

    The meat of the article uses various type of violence some of which have nothing to do with DV, some of the meat are only accusations, some of which never resulted in charges, some of which resulted in acquitals.

    And of course the real woozle, links to other woozles , the 1 in 4 number which has been debunked time and time again, by so many people I have lost count.

    If we ever hope to defeat DV we have to stop building woozles around it, yes, I know there is a whole industry built up around DV that makes a ton of money but it is a real problem there is no need to pile on phony stats and include things that aren’t DV to make it look worse than it is.

    BTW, where is the “These stats are biased anyway because a spouse spends alot more time with the victim than a stranger”

  5. John Anderson says:

    Does the NFL have more of a DV problem than anyone else? Do UFC ring girls have a DV problem because one of them, Arianny Lopez (Celeste), was arrested for kicking her boyfriend in the face?

  6. John Schtoll says:

    @John Anderson: I highly doubt the NFL has more of a problem than anyone else, BUT the DV industry has to have corporate sponsors in order to survive.

    The problem with the info presented here by the author is just a classic example of a woozle it just isn’t funny anymore. People just take this info at face value.

    BTW, Here is a nice little mental exercise for you, look on any major news site on any given day and see how many articles they have about DV and then also note how many people keep saying “DV is a hidden problem that no one is talking about”

  7. John Schtoll says:

    Here is a link to the woozle effect

  8. John Schtoll says:

    I wish I could edit entries, alas I can’t

    The OP uses the woozle to its full effect, The headline says we are going to have a talk about DV and the NFL but of course she adds in other types of violence which means her conclusions are based on various types of violence to indicate there is a problem that needs to be solved BUT all her solutions are ONLY to DV and not the other types of violence, of course the evidence she uses is citations to other ‘research’ that themselves are woozles and so forth.

  9. Kudos, Chelsea! This is such a compelling piece. Thanks for shedding light on domestic violence, a national crisis.

    Saving Promise ( a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing domestic violence, kicked off its iPromise campaign this month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The iPromise campaign seeks to engage America in the promise for change by asking them to submit a personal promise via a video or written pledge AND sign a letter to President Obama asking that he join the promise for change and make domestice violence a national priority.

    We would love if you would take our pledge and encourage your readers to do the same!


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