Jul 112014 6 Responses

How Football Can Protect Women

Update: Two weeks after writing this article and begging every football reporter to #AskTheQuestion, Tony Barnhart picked up the mantel with this article.

I believe in second chances.

Some might even critique me as being too liberal regarding forgiveness and more opportunities.

Everyone makes mistakes and without the opportunity to try again, none of us would ever succeed.

At few points in life is this more true than in high school and college. As kids begin the process of becoming adults, major mistakes happen. While their bodies mature quickly, their minds take more time. They have the challenge of making adult decisions without the luxury of having the experience and wisdom that adulthood offers.

Because of this, major mistakes are made and second, third, and fourth chances need to be given. We never need to give up on people.

Yet there is one area in which society would be better if a second chance wasn’t given.

The leaders of college and professional football should have a zero-tolerance policy regarding domestic and sexual abuse.

Football is about strength. In the name of sport, it allows men to display their God-given strength and talent. When used for sport, the power and strength of a man is entertaining. Yet the design of a man is best used to fight and protect that which is important. In God’s design, men are given strength to serve and protect women and children. (See: What a Drunk Girl Deserves)

As a lion cub plays with his siblings and that play helps him learn to hunt, so boys and men play football and that play should help them learn how to serve and protect women and children.

When a man uses his physical strength at the expense of women and children instead of their benefit, he goes against God and nature.

There should be stiff consequences when men use their strength in the wrong way.

One consequence is to never play football again.

The NFL, colleges, and high schools should have a zero-tolerance policy regarding abuse.

Give second chances to someone who tries drugs, does steroids, cheats, or breaks the law; even to the player who abuses animals or assaults another man.

But expel a man the moment he uses his strength to harm a woman or child. (See: This Issue Shames Me More Than Any Other)

This policy wouldn’t stop abuse. Often when a man abuses a woman, he does so without any consideration of the consequences—to the woman, his children, or even himself. Even with this policy, abusers would continue to abuse. But it would send a very loud message that the physical and sexual abuse of women and children is unacceptable.

That’s not the current message being sent by the NFL and college sports. The history of physical or sexual abuse hardly causes teams to pause in recruiting or signing players. In college sports, an assault can actually work out well for the player because it can get them removed from one team and recruited by a better team.

Consider that message. The physical or sexual assault of a woman is being exploited by major universities and professional teams to make money, win games, and build programs. It’s ignored, denied, brushed aside, or put in the same context as a thousand other petty crimes. In some scenarios it is seen as macho or an aspect of masculinity.

This must stop.

Football can send a clear message regarding the importance of women and children with a zero-tolerance policy.

Two considerations:

1. A conviction shouldn’t be necessary. Just because something is clearly wrong doesn’t guarantee the action meets the legal standard of a crime. If a conviction was necessary, it would put too much pressure on a woman not to press charges or testify to what truly happened. If an assault happened, teams should simply refuse to sign the player no matter the legal outcome. (See: Dealing With the Accused and the Accusers in a Small Community)

2. Discernment would be needed. This shouldn’t create an avenue for blackmail by which women could hold power over players with the mere threat of an abuse or assault. Clearly coaches and teams should investigate what has taken place. A simple accusation should not be enough to out a player. While there might be times in which a situation is debated and a player allowed to play because no one is certain what happened, there should also be clear scenarios where a player is unsigned because the evidence is obvious that he used his strength to the detriment of women and children.

I love football. And when it comes to the teams I root for, I’m quick to turn a blind eye to a player’s off-the-field actions because I want my team to win. Yet there is one area in which this must stop. As a society, we must be clear that we will not accept a man hurting a woman or child.

Even abusers deserve a second chance at life, but those second chances should be outside of the limelight and not in the context of football. Decisions have consequences and abusing a woman should have the consequence of costing a man his chance at playing football.

Football should be played by men, and real men protect woman and children.

Ask The Question

Next week, the SEC Media Days will be held in Destin. Every coach should be asked to go on record regarding this issue. I’m asking reporters to ask:

Will you refuse to sign any player with a history of domestic or sexual assault?

Every coach should give a definitive answer to this question.

To help raise awareness:

Share this post on Facebook

And Tweet:

Neither will stop abuse, but it will start making clear it should not be accepted in our society.

Every football coach in America, both college and professional, should be forced to go on record on this issue.

6 Responses to How Football Can Protect Women
  1. […] being involved in domestic or sexual abuse and continuing to play football, I wrote a story. (See: H... kevinathompson.com/get-something-wrong
  2. […] How Football Can Protect Women […]... kevinathompson.com/what-a-drunk-girl-deserves
  3. […] We must draw the line. (See: How Football Can Protect Women) […]... kevinathompson.com/locker-room-talk-and-being-a-man
  4. curmudgeonlylibrarian Reply

    Have you called for the expulsion of Hope Solo from U. S. Soccer? I would be interested in reading your article on that.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      I’m sure many men would love to read an article about this individual situation as a distraction from the systemic issue of men abusing women in our society and men overlooking it.

  5. […] 2014, two weeks before the Mixon event, I wrote this article. My goal was to have reporters ask foot... kevinathompson.com/why-powerful-men-dont-protect-women

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