Ray Rice and domestic abuse in sports

Professional athletes are often in the public eye. It comes with the territory. They are paid millions of dollars to play the sport that they love in front of droves of adoring fans.

They are looked upon as heroes, inspirations and most importantly, role models for the young and old alike. So what happens when one of those players winds up in a huge amount of trouble for committing an act that has no place in society today?

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was recently cut from the team and suspended. Photo courtesy of Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hughes/Wikimedia Commons
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was recently cut from the team and suspended. Photo courtesy of Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hughes/ Wikimedia Commons

If you hadn’t guessed by now, I’m referring to the recent Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal that is currently rocking the NFL. The incident is so disturbing that the story is now receiving national news coverage across both the United States and Canada.

Rice was a star running back for the Baltimore Ravens. The former Super Bowl champion had a good reputation around the league and with fans. That’s what makes his particular case so shocking.

It all started when news broke that police had taken Rice into custody. He was arrested, charged and released from jail on assault charges. Then came the first video. It showed Rice dragging his  fiancée’s limp body out the elevator doors.

About a month later Rice was addressed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and he was made aware of the situation and said that as soon as the full facts came out there would likely be a punishment.

On July 24 Rice was suspended two games by Goodell. The Ravens were aware and prepared for the running back to miss some time at the beginning of the season. There was a ton of backlash to the seemingly lax suspension.

On August 28 the NFL admitted that they had made a mistake and subsequently announced a new domestic violence policy. Under the new rules, a first time offense for domestic violence would earn the offender a ban of six games. A second incident would be punishable by a lifetime ban.

The situation would only get worse, as on September 8 a video surfaced of Rice punching and knocking out his now wife. TMZ got ahold of the full tape and published it.

The video was met with reactions of shock, disgust and anger.  The Ravens and the league reacted immediately as the team terminated his contract and the NFL suspended him indefinitely.

Goodell was slammed with negative criticism because of how he handled this incident. On September 9th, he denied seeing the video before it was released. Then the Associated Press reported that the NFL had received the video in April. Goodell, despite calls for him to resign has no such plans.

It’s an incredibly ugly incident both for the NFL and Goodell. While fans should be focused on the great week-to-week matchups, they are instead bombarded by shocking and appalling incidents concerning domestic abuse.

One way that situations like this can be resolved and avoided in the future is by giving players full access to domestic abuse aid organizations. That would be a good place to start. The NFL is already taking a step in the right direction by creating a new educational program that is set to debut in the near future.

Every employee of the league, which includes the players, will be going through an educational course on domestic violence and sexual assault.

Domestic abuse has no place in society today. No matter who you are or what you do, behavior like that is unacceptable and should be punished harshly and accordingly. Hopefully the NFL and Ray Rice learn from their mistakes and incidents like these are eradicated in the future.

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