Aroldis Chapman. Jose Reyes. Jeruys Familia. Darryl Strawberry. Jose Cansecco. Albert Belle. Milton Bradley. Wilfredo Cordero. Julio Lugo. Jonathan Dwyer. Adrian Peterson. Keelan Johnson. Ray McDonald. T.J Ward. Ray Rice. Josh Morgan.
Does the NFL have a domestic violence problem? Does MLB? Ask the wives and girlfriends of these men, and countless others, who have been accused of domestic violence. Many of them continue to play and continue to be adored and admired by young men and young women across the United States.
For non-sports fans, the solution might seem simple. Don’t root for teams that have violent players. Don’t root for men who have abused women in their lives. Don’t support violent people in any capacity. But the solution is not that simple. Losing the female fan base in the NFL and MLB would hurt them—there’s no question about that. But if the problem we’re trying to fix is domestic violence, then is the solution to ban these violent players? I don’t know if it’s that easy.
By banning violent players, the NFL and MLB are sending them home to their wives and girlfriends. By banning violent players, these women are often being put at a greater risk. Will violence decrease if these players are forced to end their career, make less money, and receive no help? No. In fact, it might worsen.
There is no one solution—violence needs to stop and the NFL and MLB need to step up in the fight. But it isn’t as simple as banning a player or not rooting for a team. These organizations, and organizations across the country, need to figure out a way to do what is best for the survivors. That might mean anger management or a safer way to get out of a dangerous situation. That might mean talking to young boys about violence from a young age.
Imagine this: Jeruys Familia, recently returned from his temporary ban due to a domestic violence dispute, was asked to take an anger management course, and was asked to hold a workshop for teenage boys about respecting women and controlling their anger. What kind of statement would that be? It wouldn’t be the NFL and MLB’s typical response to violence (which is just to ignore it). But it wouldn’t be isolating someone with a problem and leaving a woman to deal with it. It would be working towards a better future, which is what we, as fans, need to fight for.