Final thoughts (from Verne) on Ray Rice
The more I thought about it the more I realized there was no way any suspension would feel sufficient because that would mean assigning a value to beating a woman. There is no football equivalent or monetary value from missed game checks that can be placed on such a contemptible act. It started to feel as if there was a search to discover just what the proper exchange rate was for domestic abuse to games missed that we would all find okay. I cannot image that one exists.
So, while many members of the media began their predictable soapbox campaign against Rice and his wrist slap of a punishment and they chastised Baltimore fans for continuing to cheer for Rice and as talking head after talking head proclaimed how they would theoretically handle the situation both from the NFL’s side and Rice’s, and call after call demanded apologies and insisted on stiffer punishments for Rice, I began to feel pity.
I began to realize that lost in this media feeding frenzy is the fact that two people are having the worst night of their lives continually played out on a national stage and I just felt sorry for Rice’s wife Janay. I cannot imagine what it must be like to have to constantly relive such a terrible night over and over. It must be awful.
I felt bad personally for getting lost in the coverage myself. I understand why this story needs to be covered and I understand why people want to use it as a platform to bring about change. However, I also see the need to remember that while this story carries very important social issues it is still about two very real people and how we react to it can speak to our own character. Are we indifferent? Defensive? Appalled? What part of the story caused that reaction in us?
I liked Rice, as football player. I rooted for Rice, on the field. I was a fan of his but I do not know Rice personally. It is understandable then that my initial reactions to this story would come from that perspective but I need to be able to move past that.
If we get too caught up with the suspensions and the NFL being too lax or Roger Goodell being tone-deaf, we miss any chance to actually participate in that change. I then thought “What if I was a friend?” How would I react to this if I knew Ray and Janay personally?
No doubt I would find the act just as deplorable but would I be as caught up in the suspension length? Probably not. I would be more concerned with length of counseling and anger management. I would be looking to help them in any way that I could and I realized that there is no reason for two separate reactions. I should not react differently as a fan than I would as friend. I have to ask myself, what was I so mad about?
Was it that a guy I cheered for, but knew nothing about personally, let me down? Or did I just hate seeing a video of domestic violence? If I can make it personal, if I can remember the outrage at the act, as well, as the sympathy in the aftermath, then the story changes from how the NFL failed to how can I help. It is no longer about Rice and the Ravens or Goodell and the NFL, it is about me.
What difference can I make to possibly prevent domestic violence? What can I do to help victims? What responsibilities do I have? Certainly, I cannot expect to be so outraged and offended by a story and than simply turn the page and move on from it, can I?
Unfortunately, I have known a few people who lived through abusive relationships. I was never a witness to the abuse and only ever learned about it after the fact but this story still reminds me of them. It makes me wonder if I did enough to help them. I hope so. I hope I gave enough support and comfort. I hope I bolstered their strength by reminding them that someone cared. Do I still remind them that I care?
I think that the best we can do after seeing this coverage is just find a way to make it personal and help. Find away to support or comfort. Find a way to counsel or forgive. Help someone else not make this mistake.
After all the coverage and finger pointing and press conferences are done and finished, that is my take away. Not what the NFL did not do, or what Ray Rice did do, but what am I going to do?