Unless you live under a rock, you probably heard about the Baltimore Ravens terminating Ray Rice’s contract. This termination followed TMZ releasing a video showing Rice punching his fiancé out cold. A few weeks ago, the NFL gave Rice a two game suspension because the only video evidence in the “incident” was him dragging his fiancé’s unconscious body out of an elevator. Oh yeah, Rice also confessed to hitting her, but he said sorry so the Ravens franchise and the NFL excused him. And expected us to be upset for a few days and then just forget about it.
Since the new video resurfaced, many people from news reporters to celebrities and everyday NFL fans expressed their outrage. I wrote a few weeks ago about my own disappointment in my franchise, but simply expressing your anger will do little. Ray Rice is never going to wear a Ravens jersey again, and hopefully no other team’s jersey either, so we must know how to continue after this to ensure no other domestic abuse charge is handled so poorly.
For starters, female football fans must stop allowing the National Football League to treat us like shit. Both the Ravens and NFL commissioner Roger Goodall proved that a women’s worth is below drugs, guns or dogs. They have given into the “miniskirt” argument, that maybe, just maybe, Janay Rice was asking to be punched in the face when she provoked him. The Ravens even tweeted that Janay apologized for “her role” in the incident. From harassing women in locker rooms, to having little females in NFL leadership positions, it is blatantly obvious the National Football League does not respect over half its fan base.
Along with women questioning their support of a football team, franchise leaders must know when to break loyalty to their players. The Raven’s unwavering support of Rice is a huge mistake. Not only did they show zero support for the real victim in this situation, they wrote off Rice as a great guy, despite all the gritty details about the domestic abuse. The Ravens proved they care more about winning this season than an abused woman’s well being. Number one player or not, humanity should outweigh the potential for a great season record.
And what about us Ravens fans? Today we lost our best player, a player who even raised money for battered women and anti-bullying campaigns in Baltimore City. We are once again under scrutiny (remember the Ray Lewis dilemma) and lost faith in our franchise. We must prove to other NFL fans that this behavior from our team is not acceptable. Baltimore based companies have begun offering rewards for turning in your Ray Rice jersey, and many are also donating to House of Ruth, a women’s shelter in Baltimore. Local newspapers are releasing opinion articles explaining why the Ravens actions are inexcusable, and our own players are expressing their disappointment in the actions Rice and the franchise. As fans, it’s time to let our franchise know that this is not how we want the city we love represented.
For those of you not from Baltimore, your advocacy in this situation is just as important. For starters, do not attack every Ravens fan you see about what happened. That is abusing a situation in order to feel better about your own team, and remember, we are in no way involved with our players or franchise’s actions. You can continue to share articles that question the decisions made by the NFL and Ravens franchise. You can donate to local domestic abuse centers in your own cities, or in Baltimore. Also, begin to question the decisions made by your own franchise, because none are perfect, and trust us, you don’t want yours to back themselves into a corner like ours did. Be constantly aware of the actions and words of your players and coaches, and do not excuse them out of blind loyalty.
All of us who hold football close to our hearts have been hurt and betrayed by the Ray Rice situation. It made people question the NFL’s credibility and, for us in Baltimore, the credibility of a team we supported since day one. But it is possible to ensure important changes are made in the NFL. And let us not forget the real issue here: domestic abuse crosses economic and social boundaries, it is a real issue, and yet is still being dismissed in our society.
Featured image via Baltimore Ravens