Thursday, January 21, 2016

One Small Step for the NFL, One Giant Leap for Womankind.

      I have to admit, I never thought I'd be writing about the National Football League and positive publicity, especially involving a woman, but here I go. The NFL certainly hasn't been a "SafeHaven" up to this point in its "storied" history. Currently there are 14 players playing every Sunday in the NFL with past Domestic Violence history. Within the last 2 years alone, two of the leagues most praised athletes were in the news for domestic violence. Minnesota Vikings running back, Adrian Peterson who was charged for whipping his child, and Baltimore Ravens Ray Rice who was charged with aggravated assault against his fiancé, both continue to play in the league today. Yet, through all the negative publicity the NFL continues to be the most watched professional sport in America. I understand the idea of forgiveness and redemption, but what kind of message is being sent by the NFL with its lack luster stance against Domestic Violence?

With that out of the way, the NFL took a small step in the right direction today. The Buffalo Bills announced this morning that Kathryn Smith will be the new special teams quality control coach, making her the first full-time female coach in the National Football League. I say small step in the right direction for two reasons. First, and the most obvious, there are tremendous strides to be made in order for the true equality among genders idea we talked about during class this week to ring true, but its a start. And Secondly, my first reaction when I saw this announcement was that it seemed a bit forced. Before todays announcement, I had never heard of a "special teams quality control coach" and I think its fair to say it's not a very crucial position. If this is the best the NFL has got, its time to continue stepping up their game.

In a sport so known for its dominating masculine athletes, its about time that a female was the headline of NFL news, and not as a victim of domestic violence. Although I may question the title that Kathryn Smith will be taking over, I in no way want to take away from the accomplishment of Smith. She has paved the path for other females with the ability to coach and lead football players to be able to do the same. I cant help but think and dream of the day where the NFL is announcing there first Female head coach, that's the day when we will be able say there is true equality in the NFL. To twist the words of Neil Armstrong, today was one small step for the NFL, but one giant leap for Womankind!

1 comment:

  1. I am SO glad someone wrote about this. I very rarely watch ESPN, but I was watching it with my family recently and saw this and was beyond excited! What really struck me was how my two brothers reacted, which was with laughter. They weren't necessarily laughing that a woman was given a role as a coach in the NFL but they were mostly laughing at her title. I know very little about football, but it made me skeptical as to whether she was given this job as a trophy, or to check a box, or whether it was an open position that they needed to fill. Obviously none of this takes away from her credibility as a coach and expert, but we also need to acknowledge that considering that her credibility and experience, she should be offered a more 'crucial' position. I'm still obviously thrilled that a woman was able to get her foot in the door of this boys club, as I hope that it will begin to clear a path for women coming behind her.
    My hope is that with more women being accepted into the world of the NFL, we will be able to start making some strides in how the NFL looks at domestic violence and sexual abuse. There was a big campaign, I think about two years ago that studied domestic violence in the NFL and coincided with a string of reported domestic violence incidents. Looking back now, not much has changed. The topic keeps being brought up and there is movement for change but the actual results are seriously lacking. I hope and I do believe that there are currently men in the NFL world that are speaking out against the domestic violence and rape that is pushed under the rug, but I hope that a women's voice in the game can help move along the push for change and for results. A really crazy way that I look at this since I know almost zero things about football, is to compare it to school, kids get kicked out of school for cheating and plagiarizing but not for rape. In that same vein, college football and NFL players are suspended, punished, and sometimes kicked off the team for doing steroids and drugs (recently for killing a girlfriend's dog?), but not for rape and domestic violence. This comparison kind of helps me get a better understanding of how really crazy it is that this somehow still gets ignored. Obviously not all of the domestic violence and sexual abuses get ignored but there is a general understanding that the punishment isn't really punishment at all, which makes it seem okay and gives it less validity.