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Monday, September 22, 2014

A few thoughts on the National Football League, and domestic violence

Domestic violence is currently much in the news. Whether that news is being attended to by Jane Smith and John Doe is another question. Maybe.

The problem is, as some have said, bigger than the National Football League.  According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. That's almost one in four women. The problem is a LOT bigger.

As to the National Football League, violence is necessary to the entertainment product that it sells. It's not surprising that some of the players don't seem to know where the playing field ends. Those who have trouble with this should seek counseling and spiritual healing, but it shouldn't be a shock that some of them haven't done so, or have done so, and it didn't stick.

One aspect of this situation is that the NFL's purpose is to make money. The Commissioner, Roger Goodell, earned (or not) $44,000,000 in 2012, according to Business Week. There's something terribly wrong with our priorities when someone makes that much money, contrasted with teachers, firefighters, social workers, police, nurses and child care workers, whose professions are designed to help people, but probably won't make 5% of that amount over their entire working life. No wonder bad things happen in the NFL. Consider also the mess over brain damage to players, and how poorly those players and their families have been compensated for the irreparable damage done to their quality of life, and for the early deaths some have suffered. The New York Times gives figures for the estimated number of players and former players effected, and the total amount of the settlement. According to my calculations, the players will get about $160,000 each, on the average. (There will be sliding scales, depending on the damage and the age of the players.) All of us who watch the NFL are partly guilty of these crimes, too, I guess, because we have, by watching and otherwise paying attention, encouraged the NFL's money-making activities. (It's OK to make money. But we shouldn't expect a money-making organization to have the best interests of its customers or employees at heart, as opposed to the interests of the owners/stockholders.)

Will the NFL lose significant money over all this? Probably not. TV advertisers will continue to buy ads, most likely. Anheuser-Busch, beer producer, and advertiser, has indicated that it is not pleased by the NFL's handling of the domestic violence situation. Now that's a real irony. No doubt a lot of the domestic violence carried out was done while the perpetrators were under the influence of alcohol, some of it from Anheuser-Busch products.

Leonard Pitts, nationally syndicated columnist, wrote the following, in relation to celebrities getting away with domestic violence:
We are a celebrity-besotted people who too routinely conflate fame with worth, giving the talented, the beautiful and the well known benefit of the doubt we do not extend to the untalented, the unlovely and the unknown. Indeed. We probably get the entertainment we deserve. If that's true, God help us, worshipers of money-making, celebrity and violence that we are.

Thanks for reading.

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