…the Bleacherman has entered the dialogue…
The Ray Rice domestic abuse story has almost dominated the news for the past few days following the release of a video recording of Mr.Rice knocking his then fiancé, (now wife, Janay Rice) unconscious in a hotel elevator.
Much has already been reported about this tragic incident. Experts, activists and commentators have been popping up everywhere to feed the insatiable hunger of a twenty-four hour news cycle always short on relevant content and long on time to fill in-between long lasting spasms of advertising nonsense.
I don’t know, but at 2am, it seems odd that a story about male aggression and violence against women is immediately followed by two minutes of advertising encouraging viewers to rush out and buy a year’s supply of male enhancement and libido increasing medications.
At the center of the controversy is the question of why did it take the release of a video to force the NFL to act in what most people think is a more appropriate and relevant manner?
Before the video was released, he NFL suspended Mr. Rice for two games. Drug violators are usually suspended for four games which means physically beating up on a young lady is only half as bad as tweaking out on a joint a few nights a week.
What was the wide world of football thinking when it tried so hard to mitigate the reality of a a two hundred pound athlete knocking out a young, almost defenseless women? Do they think the knock out punch was a superficial love tap? Did they really need to SEE a video of the violent and brutal encounter to understand the absolute barbaric and savage actions of a young man who lost control of his emotions and physically lashed out at his fiancee?
As much as I try to restrain myself, I feel compelled to add two things to this on-going dialogue: the first is that it should come as no surprise to anyone that the NFL acted in such a self-serving manner. The NFL is business first, sports second and morality policeman a distant third. The second is that most of society does not care about what is unfortunately and disgustingly perceived as a mundane issue. (So the man hit his wife? She probably had it coming. Just ask sports commentator Stephen A. Smith about his first reactions to the incident.)
To the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens, Ray Rice is nothing more than a revenue-producing commodity. He helps his team win football games. Fans love him and buy jerseys with his name and number embroidered on the back. They pay big dollars to file into the M&T Bank Stadium to watch Ray Rice bowl over his opponents. They watch and cheer for him on television. And the NFL sells those television broadcast rights for huge dollars. Everyone wins. Ray Rice is paid a huge salary; some $7 million dollars a year. He was given a $15 million dollar signing bonus.
The Ravens are worth an estimated $1.5 billion dollars. It’s overall financial valuation increases about 7% per year. It’s gross operating profit each year is estimated to be around $50 million dollars.
The Ravens produce over $200 million dollars of gross state product every year. They pay over $10 million dollars in admission and state taxes. The pay out over $120 million dollars a year in personnel and employee compensation.
The NFL itself generates over $9 billion dollars a year in revenue with the goal of tripling that number in the next twelve years. The NFL is a business. It is not a sport.
So who, in the NFL’s very wide, very profitable world of business really and sincerely cares if several players have off the field behavioral issues and verbally or physically abuse their wives. The NFL turns to the long standing tradition that money makes such problems go away. Realities and consequences fade into the oblivion of yesterday’s news. Life goes on; the dollars keep rolling into everyone’s pocketbook. Hell, it is a scene out of the movie, Evita. (Hell, I am already humming the words to the song, “And the money keeps rolling in (and out)”
Even the fans don’t care about such nonsense as domestic violence. When Ray Rice appeared at Ravens training camp several months following the incident, the cabal of concerned citizens gave him a massive ovation. “Gain those yards, Ray,” they shouted. “Score those touchdowns. Win those games. So you hit your wife; she apologized so what the hell?”
We now live in a perverted society where celebrity is the American form of nobility. The more atrocious the movie star acts, the more callous and offensive the sports star behaves, the more society falls to its knees to worship these self-anointed Gods and Goddesses. They are allowed to commit crimes and never see any real and relevant jail time. They need to get back to the sound stage to make money for movie producers. They need to get back on the playing field to make money for team owners and league bureaucrats. Things like culture and civility are deemed meaningless; especially in a world where one’s status is determined by the size of one’s bank account and not one’s compassion and benevolence.
When we live in a world where our elected officials laugh and scorn the debate over domestic violence, where misogyny is seen as something as far-fetched as climate change and the victim is compelled to become an apologist and de-facto enabler of such abhorrent behavior we invite the consequences of such behavior. How often do we read of some disgruntled husband shooting and killing his wife? Unchecked domestic violence is the precursor to a senseless murder.
But the game must go on and touchdowns need to be scored and revenue sources need to be protected. Battered women become nothing more than collateral damage. One day the headlines will go away, a new crisis will sweep across cable news America and revenues, profits and salaries will continue to grow. And once in a while, right before the next male enhancement ad, a twenty second story will document another woman being killed in a domestic dispute.
…the Bleacherman has left the debate….for now…