Following a National Football League (NFL) suspension and last week’s public release of disturbing footage, the Baltimore Ravens terminated their contract with running back Ray Rice. Despite the NFL’s “indefinite suspension” of Rice, the League waited too long to deliver its full punishment.
Rice originally received a two game suspension for the recorded beating of his then fiancée, Janay Palmer.
Often times, professional athletes are given punishments that do not reflect the severity of the crime they committed. Violating the NFL’s substance policies on performance enhancing and recreational drugs results in longer suspensions. Former New York Giant Will Hill repeatedly violated the policies since 2012 resulting in two four-game suspensions and most recently, one six-game suspension.
Rice’s initial two-game suspension received public backlash through social media, specifically Twitter. Users ranted on the original duration of Rice’s punishment and noted the longer suspension durations for other violations. The NFL rightfully deserved the negative response for issuing a small penalty in this case because it downplays the severity of domestic violence compared to substance abuse.
While both domestic and substance abuse are horrible in their own regard, there is no logical justification for domestic abuse suspensions to be half the length of a drug abuse situation. Unlike drug related disputes, perpetrators of domestic violence have the intent to harm another individual which should be as alarming, if not more, to the NFL since either case reflects poorly on the organization as a whole.
Since professional football players are employees of the NFL, the League holds responsibility for its athletes’ actions and delivering appropriate consequences. As the NFL learned from public disapproval of Rice’s original suspension, its athletes are viewed under a magnifying glass. Professional athletes, regardless of their sport, inevitably become role models to children which should cause leagues to recognize the impact athletes’ actions hold.
In order to prevent future defamatory incidents and spreading negative messages to the youth, the NFL and other professional leagues need to heavily revise their policies to discourage reckless behavior from their athletes.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell implemented a new domestic violence policy in response to the outrage in late August. Under this policy, first time offenders will receive a six-game suspension with repeat offenders banned for life.
However, the public is wondering why the NFL waited until recently to reconsider its punishments for domestic violence cases. The NFL received footage of the beating back in April, yet the League was not aware it possessed the full footage until early September when it was released to the public, according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. How could the NFL be oblivious of the footage for five months when this issue is such a hot topic? Wouldn’t the League want the full story as soon as possible to take appropriate action?
Regardless of the sluggish execution, the NFL took appropriate measures by banning Rice and finally adopting an adequate domestic violence policy. Though the new domestic violence policy gives violators one chance to change their act before they’re banned for life, the other policies cannot be neglected. Every NFL policy should follow the standard set by the revised domestic violence policy and stop handing out extra chances to players. If athletes cannot control their actions off the field, it may be best for the NFL to drop them completely to spare the League’s reputation.
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