Time to Focus on What Really Matters
Ignore your fantasy leagues for a moment
Sports Editor: Matt Wincherauk
By now, we have all heard about the Ray Rice scandal. The former Baltimore Ravens running back physically assaulted his fiancé (at the time) and now wife, Janay Rice. A despicable act that not only cost Rice his job, but also the respect of nearly everyone who had supported him in his career. Clearly, the NFL mishandled this situation. However, what I’m here to talk about is how the sports media, like ESPN and NFL Network, managed to mishandle it also.
As you probably noticed, sports networks all over North America had the Ray Rice scandal as their lead story, but the problem was, they presented it as a football story. The hosts of these shows talked about what this meant for the Baltimore Ravens football team. How could they replace Ray Rice? Who would start week one at running back? How would Joe Flacco play without his most trusted weapon? Hell, a major focus became what you should do with Ray Rice in fantasy football league, because everyone is so crazed about fantasy sports, it becomes more important than reality.
The media could only think about how Rice’s actions would impact football. It was not about how the NFL should handle this situation – spoiler alert, they did not handle it well. It was also not about the growing number of players who are being charged with domestic violence. Take for example Greg Hardy and Ray McDonald, two NFL players who were at the center of their own domestic abuse situations. The story became, ‘How can the Panthers replace a talent like Hardy?’ Should the Panthers have given him a new contract this past off-season? In the case of Ray McDonald, the focus became on how the 49ers will handle losing him and their star Aldon Smith, who is going through his own legal troubles.
It only took the massive blunder that the NFL made in its punishment of Rice for the networks and broadcasters to get to what really mattered: How to address the problem of domestic abuse in the NFL? What steps need to be taken in order to educate athletes about the ramifications of their actions? An excellent documentary called Broke explores the need to educate athletes about how to handle money. NFL players make millions of dollars and are regarded as role models and heroes. It’s time they begin to act like role models and heroes.
As for sports media, I am hoping that this scandal will help to change its culture. Their job may be to cover sports, but they also have an obligation to their readers and viewers to look at the bigger picture.
Let’s end on a more positive note, with a step in the right direction for the field. Here are the words of CBS Thursday Night Football anchor James Brown on domestic abuse.
“So this is yet another call to men, to stand up and take responsibility for their thoughts, their words, their deeds, and as Deion [Sanders] says, to give help, or to get help, because our silence is deafening, and deadly.”