Is The NFL A Force For Bad?

Chris Schisler

In a world where the media never stops and its in everyone’s pocket, the National Football League has fallen behind in the court of public opinion. The Ray Rice debacle created a furious uproar. Adrian Peterson added fuel to the fire, being charged with child abuse. The Keith Olberman’s of the world want to depict the NFL’s shield as the tool thats defending and covering up social injustices. Many are left questioning whether the NFL is an enabling business with a weak moral compass or if its simply run by fools. Many believe the National Football League has become a force for bad.

Caught on video, Ray Rice has become an obsession of the nation. A story that began on the front of the sports page has found its way on the front page. Headline after headline have made Ray Rice the face of domestic violence. Rice though is just one perpetrator in the horror that is domestic violence. He is not the only NFL player with domestic violence crimes on their resume. He is the only one caught on tape and therefore the only one we obsess over.

Much like Rice is not really the face of domestic violence, Adrian Peterson is not really the face of child abuse. What Peterson did is mind numbing and conscience chillingly sad. What makes this even worse is it seems clear that he has made this a pattern of behavior. Any man who has a whooping room has his priorities screwed up to the highest degree. Its awful but its just one case of child abuse, one of many. Peterson belongs in jail like anybody who would scar a child physically and subsequently emotionally forever. Both situations with Peterson and Rice point to a larger problem. I don’t want to obsess over either situation but admit thinking about Peterson’s abusing of a 4 year old makes me horribly ill.

Its easy to slip into the angry notion that the NFL is full of carelessly lawbreaking young adults with too much money. I get it, this is a dark news cycle but here are the numbers that the NFL ignores. There are 53 men on every roster (not counting practice squad players). This equals 1,696 players employed by the NFL. A study done in 2012 shows that about 35 players get in trouble yearly (Stephen Bronars http://sbronars.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/does-the-nfl-have-a-crime-problem/). This number means that on an average year 98% of players do not get arrested.

The media tries to sensationalize these stories as if they were not horrifying enough. The Peterson thing gets under my skin to a point where Im out for blood a bit too. It is so easy to do. My message is that the actions of 2% of players, no matter the magnitude of their star power, should not reflect on the other 98% of players. The coaches, executives and other employees should not be judged on the actions of the wrongdoers. Boycotting the NFL is over reactionary and would punish the whole rather than the offending minority. Thats just bad math.

The NFL brings joy to millions. It sets the standards for the football world. It handled these issues horribly. But its heads up football program (which teaches youth football coaches and players safe playing techniques) is a great thing. The league gives a lot to charity. The games support local businesses on game day. Maybe most importantly it gives us a weekly escape from the monotony and frustrations of our lives. It gives me happiness. The NFL is not perfect, but it is not a force for bad. It does a lot more good than bad, if you ask me.

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