Running back Ray Rice was recently suspended indefinitely from the National Football League (NFL) and cut by the Baltimore Ravens after video evidence of his assault on his then-fiance Janay Palmer was made available to the public. The backlash from the sports community was harsh, and there is the possibility that Rice may never play another NFL game, let alone play this season. To me, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this result. Rice made a huge mistake and he therefore deserves a huge punishment. A person who makes terrible decisions, like those of Rice, is toxic to the league, and brings a bad name to the game of football. Rice will pay the price for his crimes, and there is a definite sense of justice regarding the matter, even if the NFL has been inconsistent in their manner of doling out the correct sanctions.
However, despite all the controversy surrounding the NFL and Roger Goodell, you must admit that he made an example of Ray Rice. Hopefully, the severe penalties inflicted upon Rice will act as a deterrent towards other players in the NFL. In order to play and in order to be paid, the members of the leagues should be expected to represent their sport in a positive fashion. This applies to all sports. Not just football or basketball or baseball, but every sport.
Look at the case of Hope Solo, the US women’s national soccer team’s most famous player, known both for her prowess in goal and her striking physical attractiveness. Unfortunately, Solo made some mistakes off the field that should have wrought the same consequences and national disgust that the Ray Rice scandal met. Yet the public outrage never came. In fact, Solo was allowed to start in goal for the US national team even as the controversy swirled around her.
According to police reports, Solo was arrested over the summer when officers responded to a 911 call reporting that a woman was hitting people and no one could get her to leave the area. Solo’s sister and nephew both had visually apparent injuries, and Solo has been mandated by the court that she stay away from those relatives.
Why is this case different from that of Ray Rice? Is it because no video of the brutality has surfaced? Is it because soccer is a less popular sport in the US than football? Is it because Rice is a man and Solo is a woman? None of these factors should be significant when determining the punishment for Solo or Rice. If our nation wants domestic violence to be seen as a serious crime, then punishment needs to be consistent. We cannot disrespect the NFL for forcing Rice to deal with the severe repercussions of his actions because there was video evidence of the violence. We cannot say that Solo’s situation was different from Rice’s because “no one cares about soccer in the United States.” We cannot say that it is different because Solo is a woman. Solo deserves to be reprimanded with the same seriousness and severity as Rice was.
Both were famous players, and both were likely looked up to as role models by kids across the nation. The leagues must set an example now in order to assure a better future for not only their respective sports, but the country in general.
If young sports fans grow up with idols like these, what can we expect from these kids in the future?