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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Asked and Then Answered

In my previous post, I asked:
Will we allow (the NFL), despite their visibility and influence, to remain an organization devoted to the game of football or shall we demand that they be advocates for the social issue of the day?
In a post that attempts to explain why we should go ape-shit over Ray Rice, but not Hope Solo who is also accused of domestic abuse, that question is answered:
Why exactly do we care about domestic violence in the NFL? It’s not because football players are our nation’s leading batterers of women. (In the Atlantic last week, Conor Friedersdorf nominated police officers for that honor.) It’s because domestic violence is a problem bigger than football, one too easily perpetrated in homes across America and excused by law enforcement, and one that is (again) overwhelmingly committed by male partners who exert physical, social, and financial control to keep their victims in their power. Meanwhile, no institution rivals football in its power to exert social and financial pressure on American men and boys. That makes the NFL an awfully convenient perch for tackling this issue.
What utter horseshit.

Just because football is, for the moment, "an awfully convenient perch for tackling" the domestic violence issue does not mean it's an effective one.  Maybe this is one of those situations, like junk food or credit cards, where the convenience of a thing obscures the fact that it's not actually very helpful.

More horseshit:
Domestic violence also serves as a powerful symbol of the toxic masculinity and devaluation of women that football promotes: This is a sport where men are rewarded for beating other men until they can’t even walk or think anymore while women appear solely as sexual objects (a task they perform for a criminal sum) and are systematically underrepresented (to the point of nonexistence) as executives, journalists, coaches, and referees.
Before accepting a premise, one should attempt to challenge it.  It's not clear that the writer of this piece has made that attempt.

What exactly is "toxic masculinity?"  How is "toxic masculinity" different from regular masculinity?  Does football actually promote it?   Can we fairly describe the cheerleaders on the sidelines and the all-male referee crew as "promoting the devaluation of women" or is that just feminist rhetoric?

Frankly, I take issue with the description of football as "a sport where men are rewarded for beating other men until they can’t even walk or think anymore while women appear solely as sexual objects."  Does this demonstrate a keen understanding of the game, or does it demonstrate the exact opposite?

Furthermore, is this misunderstanding the reason why she thinks football is "a convenient perch for tackling the domestic violence issue?"  If she understood football to be the competitive contact sport it is, would she think it so easy to plug domestic violence's square peg into the NFL's round hole?


Probably not.  You have to read all the way to the piece's end to realize it's hopeless.  It's all just bitterness and bad faith and double standards:
(S)pare the indignation about how women’s soccer is somehow doing worse on domestic violence than the NFL. If you believe that, you’re either a raging football apologist, or the commissioner of the NFL.
A raging football apologist?  Hey, if the shoe fits....

Monday, September 22, 2014

Stuff to Think About

Undeveloped thought I must think about more:

Could the NFL's October "Breast Cancer Awareness" pink-fest be a contributing factor to its current "problem with women?" 

That is, by volunteering to engage in non-football related advocacy, has the NFL now claimed responsibilities beyond the scope of football?

The size and scope of the NFL does tend to convey upon it certain social responsibilities.  Players are, for better or worse, role models, and the NFL cannot claim no responsibility to the prevailing winds of social discourse.  If Michael Vick is killing dogs and Richie Incognito is hazing teammates, the NFL must respond.

But do they also have to become an animal-rights or anti-bullying advocate as well?  Will we allow them, despite their visibility and influence, to remain an organization devoted to the game of football or shall we demand that they be advocates for the social issue of the day?


It seems to me that there are natural limits as to what the NFL can accomplish when it comes to domestic violence or breast cancer or animal rights.  Are we setting ourselves up for disappointment when our approach to social issues resembles a PR campaign?