One of the staples of my childhood was that daily afternoon break from the confines of the classroom, when my friends and I raced out onto the dusty field of Horace Mann Elementary and huddled together to play a game of football. I was anything but good at that age, I hadn’t grown into my height quite yet, but the friendly and often heated competition that stemmed from that game undoubtedly added something to my life that a million books couldn’t quite accomplishment.
At that age, the game seemed perfect. Nothing in my mind registered anything negative when we ultimately made fun of each other for ‘running like a girl’, ‘throwing like a girl’, or ‘whining like a girl’, all of this undoubtedly ironic since I remember girls half my height kicking my ass on the field. Looking back on it now with the advantage of age and a shred of experience, I can attest that all of us, from the little kids hurling micro-aggressions to the fans complacent in ignoring the rampant issues in the National Football League, have been guilty of something so hurtful and damaging that I feel ashamed to admit it.
I believe that the game of football is a beautiful thing, not as graceful or artistic as Baseball but tougher than any sport played regularly on this side of the Atlantic. Yet within this wonderful game lies a issue that has the potential to destroy the game as we know it; the epidemic of domestic violence and sexism against women. Now I have no doubt that all of the other major American sports have their share of criminals and horrendous acts, but what’s going on now in the NFL is both unacceptable and grounds for a serious shakeup.
Generally I avoid calling out individuals in situations such as these; I usually believe that there’s always an institutional problem that is the root cause of major disasters such as these. Yet I undoubtedly believe that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who I have shown support for in the past, has committed a shameful cover-up of the Ray Rice incident in an attempt to save-face for the NFL.
Even I had a difficult time watching any games this past Sunday, considering that the governing body of the National Football League had the audacity to ignore the consistent crisis of violence against women in the NFL. I have a feeling that many other fans, who share a love of the game but also realize the importance of treating women and all people with respect and dignity, watched their teams play on Sunday with a shred of embarrassment and disgust.
I will continue to love this game, and out of my love of the game I believe that it’s time for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to step down and resign from his duties. A message needs to be sent to players and fans around the country; violence may be at the cornerstone of the game when being played on the field, but that level of violence should never reach beyond the field. I hope that other fans of the game will take a stand and agree that something needs to change in the NFL.