By Tim Waschak
Sitting in class the other day, and the words uttered from someone in the back row seemed to ring in my ears more than they normally would. “Yes, but NFL players have a much higher rate of domestic abuse than the regular population”, the girl exclaimed in a retort to an ongoing verbal spat amongst classmates. The debate had begun with the hot-topic subject of violence in video games. While the debate on that subject lingered on, I interjected a piece of information myself. I simply stated that football is a very violent sport, and yet football players are not committing violent crimes such as the school shootings that are often linked to video games. The domestic violence can-of-warms was opened shortly after by the women in the back row.
The National Football League has been under fire lately because of its track record with concussions, and because of its off the field issues with players and the law. Unless someone lives under a rock, the name Ray Rice should conjure up images of an elevator, and a man who mercilessly beat his wife. Cases like this are what is driving the NFL’s public image down and causing public outrage. So does the NFL really have a domestic violence issue? And is it significantly higher than that of the general population of the United States?
The easy answer to this question is no. Obviously the fact that any players are charged with domestic abuse and assault is a problem, and needs to be fixed, but the numbers pale in comparison for NFL players compared to the general population. The domestic abuse rate per 100,000 for NFL players is around 200. The rate per 100,000 for all men ages 25-29 is 450. Just to put that into simpler terms, the general population ages 25-29 has more than DOUBLE the domestic abuse rate as NFL players. So if thats the case, why do we the people only hear about the domestic abuse problems of NFL players and how big of an issue it is? The media.
When Joe Schmoe hits his wife, it is hardly headline news. On the other hand when Ray Rice hit his wife, it was not only on sports media, but mainstream media all across the country. Whenever an athlete, especially an NFL player is involved in a domestic abuse case, we the people hear about it almost immediately, and then for several weeks after that. This would certainly cause us to grow a perception that there is a crazy amount of domestic abuse taking place within the NFL, when in reality, the general population is much much worse.
This article wasn’t produced to prove a classmate wrong, or defend the NFL, but rather to shed light on a real problem we face in this country. We have a domestic abuse rate that is astronomically high, and a media that only shows us the cases that are “famous”. We need the media to spread the word about these egregious acts not only amongst celebrities and athletes, but amongst the ordinary citizens of this country. So the next time you think about the NFL having domestic abuse problems, just remember that for every NFL player case you hear about, there are twice as many happening that you do not hear about.