Opinion: Should we still be watching the NFL?

“I regret the role I played in this incident.” – Janay Rice.

That quote is from Ray Rice’s now wife, after the incident in the elevator, given at a press conference put on by the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens’ Twitter account had the quote up for four months until the video became public. Janay Rice was the victim, yet the Ravens made it seem like she was just as guilty as Ray. Which is altogether wrong, disgusting and sad. It shows how the NFL viewed domestic violence and this stance is coming back to haunt them.

Ray Rice knocked his then-fiancé unconscious in an elevator in Atlantic City and then dragged her unconscious body out of the elevator. He was originally suspended for just two games, until the video of this incident became public, when he was then suspended from football indefinitely.

The NFL is a violent sport on the field, and as we are finding out more and more, off the field as well. There have been numerous accounts of domestic abuse over the past couple weeks that have highlighted the NFL in a horrific way: From the Ray Rice video to the Adrian Peterson child abuse story and the lesser-known story of Greg Hardy throwing his pregnant wife onto a bed full of guns claiming that he would kill her.

How have these incidents affected how fans consume the NFL and will they continue watching the games? I asked a female fan and a male fan to see how each viewed the game.

The NFL has a staggering number of female fans, almost 35 per cent of all fans. And, after the poor handling of these cases, it seems that the NFL is not concerned about losing these fans. They seem to have no perception of what the female fan was thinking.

“I’m a huge NFL fan, so yes I will continue watching the NFL,” Stacey Faulkner said.

“I honestly believe that the NFL has to learn and investigate and deal with issues like the Ray Rice incident. I believe they have investigated incidents like Ray Rice’s but not done it in public nor were serious punishments given.”

She believes that these punishments haven’t come to light because “we would have wondered why players weren’t playing for a length of time.” Faulkner believes that the NFL has covered up some of these incidents, which led to this becoming a bigger issue as all of these came to light at once.

Brad Goodchild is a huge football fan. He is passionate about the game and has played football since he was five years old.

Does he still watch the NFL?

“My watching has not decreased in light of recent events,” he said. “I still love the game and have a great deal of respect for it.”

Asked if he viewed the league differently because of the Ray Rice incident, he replied: “I think the domestic violence effects the way I view individuals in the league, not necessarily the league itself.”

Goodchild believes playing in the league is a “privilege and it should be revoked if they act out of line.” He wants a harder stance taken on domestic violence to make it clear to players that the league will not tolerate it.

The question remains, should we watch the game we love?

The NFL may have lost fans for its handling of these cases, but it still making money and ratings continue to go up.

Does this say something about society? Or does it not matter what players do off the field as it doesn’t effect the bottom line. This situation will only continue to fester until the NFL becomes a leader in the major sports leagues on the issue of punishment of domestic violence cases.

Whether you watch the NFL, or decide you are done with it is totally up to you. The better question may be not whether we should continue to watch the NFL, but rather should we ever trust the NFL again.

1 Comment

  • Andrea Ross
    Reply October 10, 2014

    Andrea Ross

    This is a great article and you ask an even better question. I recently watched a documentary on Rae Carruth, who in 1999 shot his 8 month pregnant girlfriend 4 times because he didn’t want to pay child support. The baby lived and is now handicap, but his girlfriend passed away a month later. I think it the glorification of this sport and the individuals that play it (in the States particularly), along with the dog eat dog attitude and superiority complex leads to a very toxic culture, that needs to be addressed.

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