I find society's reaction to offences committed by African American athletes and the Michael Phelps news disproportionate and eyebrow raising. It would appear that society has casually accepted his apology and his sponsors have not made any indication that they wish to distance themselves from him, as did many of the NFL's sponsors did after public backlash to the incidents above.
It seems the Internet, like Orwell's police state, is slowly forcing everyone to stay on his or her best behaviour. In my mind, the Internet won when yet another elevator video surfaced of National Football League player Ray Rice punching his then fiancé, prompting his release by the Baltimore Ravens and an indefinite suspension by the NFL.
The reality is that domestic abuse is far too common in society and that includes Canada. According to a Statistics Canada study 50 per cent of women in Canada have experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 16. Think about that for a minute. Look around your office, your classroom, the street your walking on; statistically every second women you see will have suffered violence. And domestic violence is not just limited to people we don't know or people we don't see. Think about your friends and your family, your co-workers, and your classmates -- any of them could be victims of domestic violence.
To these women this isn't just the monster who kicked them down the stairs or told them they were worthless. He's also the man who romanced them and won their heart, the man they sleep next to, the man they make love to, the man who may be the father of their children, the man they build a life with together. To walk away from him is to walk away from the good moments, from the dream of that life. The possibility of what might have been, if only he could change and see the light. Abuse victims didn't "ask for it" or "like it" or "cause it." They are victims, and asking "why didn't they just walk away" -- whether unintentional or not -- blames those victims.
What's lost in all this is that a woman was beaten unconscious and was ignored because we apparently love sports more than we have compassion for others. No player, no matter how famous or rich, should be excluded from full punishment, counseling, and reconciliation. No woman, no matter who her abuser is, should be shamed into silence, isolation, or fear. If you're a sports fan or not, please join with me in demanding better from those who flood our TVs and ask us to love them. The people who make millions of dollars for our entertainment aren't immune to our criticism and should be held to the highest of standards. The sports world is an amazing place with amazing people but we can and must do better than this.
I know a lot of folks think they're football fans without considering what has to be done to prepare for the upcoming season. For some reason, they think they can just wile away the summer and start their TV football viewing with no preparation. Serious fans, however, know that the key to successful sports viewing is preparation, lots of preparation.
Last season, of course, a bullying scandal came to light in pro football wherein Richie Incognito, a truly offensive offensive lineman, was (in the words of The New York Times) "found to have engaged in serial harassment" and "a pattern of bullying" against Miami Dolphin teammate Jonathan Martin, who eventually left Miami under "psychological duress."
He's a young guy, incredible athlete, but most importantly, I think, is the intangible he brings to a team. It is not that the fact that he is gay, it is that he is gay and is not affected by society's fascination with it and appears to be complete able to operate under intense national scrutiny and attention, something very few rookies are able to do.
In my opinion, bombastic statements are generally a defence mechanism by those who feel put upon by their community. However, as minorities we rarely control society's prevailing narrative. Therefor our comments are often misinterpreted. Professional sports is big business and players who attract controversy tend to scare away sponsors.
Historically, prejudice of any kind could be freely expressed with few repercussions (emotional, legal, or otherwise) so long as there was a reasonable justification. Religion has often served as the justification, and has therefore facilitated an array of prejudice, from racism to sexism to homophobia. Over time, the use of religious beliefs to justify prejudice has tended to decline, but still persists -- especially when it comes to homosexuality.
Give me an F! E! D! and a U! and a P! They're a big part of the game day experience but NFL cheerleaders are no longer keeping to the sidelines when it comes to their treatment on and off the field. Multiple former NFL cheerleaders have come forward in 2014 to tell their stories -- often in the form of lawsuits -- of harsh working conditions, peanuts for pay, and demeaning behaviour rules.
More cookies for the customers. More overeating. Less special, more mundane. And all resulting in more injuries to players in a league already beset with a concussion crisis -- a league purportedly acting with the best interests of its greatest assets in mind -- and injured stars subsequently being replaced by less-talented players. All of which equals a dangerously diluted product.
I find it appalling that the NFL who has a whole team -- I repeat a whole team -- that is named after a racial slur against First Nations peoples, the Washington Redskins, is all of a sudden in the business of "politically correctness." In terms of the Redskins, the NFL finds all kinds of excuses on why they should keep the name.
As the NFL begins its Road to the Super Bowl this weekend, some critics are contemplating the point of it all. No, not the point of the playoffs. Or the point of the game of football. But, rather, the point of the point. You know, the PAT (Point After Touchdown). Which some call the 'conversion'. And others call the 'extra point'. And which esteemed Sports Illustrated scribe Peter King calls "The biggest waste of time in sports."