In that I live in North Carolina and my hometown is the also the hometown of the Carolina Panthers, and given that my father physically abused my mother during their 23-year marriage, to say the Ray Rice scandal touches my life is putting it mildly. And for the Panthers to have been willing to play Hardy on Sunday was appalling in the light of the new “Zero Tolerance” policy handed down on the heels of the leak of the now famous elevator tapes that we’ve all either seen or been made aware of. Never mind that it took the videos for the NFL to do the right thing. (Not that I never mind it at all. It’s simply too abhorrent for words, really.)
But when I heard that the Panthers planned to allow Greg Hardy to play even though he’d already been convicted for spousal abuse and was headed into the appeals process — I mean, a guilty verdict, guilty of partner violence — I had to wonder what Zero Tolerance really meant. Zero except when your lawyers are still planning on tying the matter up in the courts?
We’ve had talks about this incident at my house, too, because we like the Panthers, and have watched them for years. So when I received the following picture from my oldest, to say I was proud of him is putting it mildly. He gets it. Of course, kids always get these kinds of things. Well before the adults do, it seems.
I am not just going to sit here hoping that this trend continues. I am going to work actively to remind friends, family and fans to get involved. It’s not enough to say, Oh, we really don’t like this.
I am glad to learn that Roger Goodell has appointed four women to “address domestic violence and social issues,” but I confess I don’t know yet what that really means. Will they have any real authority? Will the men in leadership truly support their efforts?
Steve Almond writes that “it’s time for the fans to start quitting,” and points out that along with women making up 45% of the NFL’s audience, corporate sponsors FedEx and Marriott are watching closely. Of course we have to hit them in their wallets for them to concede. But oh, I long for a day when corporate America does the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.
No, we can’t compartmentalize the violence on the field with the violence behind closed doors. And yes, asking us to do that is outrageous. But apparently, Zero Tolerance is a fluid situation, and it’s time to reach out again and contact the Panthers and the NFL.