Sports writer/enthusiast Patrick Dennis Jr. on why the Ray Rice suspension had more to do with lost NFL funds than punishing domestic violence

As a sports fan from a young age I’ve always been told about the good that comes from playing team sports: lessons in teamwork, responsibility, work ethic and so on. Maybe that is where the problems start, society tends to use sports as a teaching tool and we view professional sports and its athletes as more than they are.

By now I’m sure that you all know about Ray Rice and the shocking video that surfaced online via TMZ of him assaulting his then fiancée in a hotel elevator. Maybe this incident can teach us all a lesson. Let’s just get something out of the way; Ray Rice wasn’t fired from his job because he physically assaulted his wife. It really came down to the fact that the said video of him doing so was exposed for public viewing.

If the NFL truly cared about domestic violence Rice would have received more than that two-game suspension when the initial event happened.

Instead of being proactive, much of the response to this horrible display of domestic violence has been reactive. The events that took place that night in Atlantic City happened in February, at which time the NFL decided to suspend Rice for two games. Right or wrong that was the punishment handed down by Commissioner Roger Goodell and up until that video surfaced things were fairly calm considering the eyes that likely viewed the video beforehand. If the NFL truly cared about domestic violence Rice would have received more than that two-game suspension when the initial event happened.

The couple involved seem to be working through their issues after that incident, but sadly for them all we can focus on is the punishment for Ray Rice. Instead of focusing on proactive measures, our society has become one that only responds through instant reactions and punishments. I’m sure there are several reasons that can explain why the NFL handed down the strict suspension to Rice, but one of those undeniable reasons has to be based on public scrutiny of the league after the video was released.

Certainly punishment should have been in order, but for the NFL to up the degree of the punishment based off of a video makes it all seem disingenuous and truly evident that the league’s executive team dropped the ball in this case.

At the end of the day the NFL can say it acted from a moral code, but the fact is that money talks. If the NFL didn’t suspend Rice (regardless of length) and the Ravens didn’t cut him from its roster at the amount of the backlash, the loss of potential sponsors could have been huge. Now I’m sure there are many within the NFL’s governing body that truly believe Rice’s actions are despicable, but to assume money didn’t play a dominant role in the decision is naïve.

If the NFL and the rest of society criticizing its handling of the situation want to truly take a stand regarding domestic abuse then do so. Have each team undergo training and knowledge sessions on domestic violence. Include PSAs during games similar to what the NBA does with the “NBA Cares” campaign. Certainly punishment should have been in order, but for the NFL to up the degree of the punishment based off of a video makes it all seem disingenuous and truly evident that the league’s executive team dropped the ball in this case.

Reacting and punishing after the fact is easy, but the goal should be to stop these types of crimes before they start whether they’re in the public eye or not.

Words By. Patrick Dennis Jr. + Photos Courtesy of. Wikimedia Commons