This weekend, Boston College Social Work Dean Alberto Godenzi proposed a suggestion for how the National Football League (NFL) can take an “unequivocal stance on domestic violence,” in an Op Ed for the Boston Globe.
Godenzi suggests that the league should ask team captains to read a statement against domestic violence and sexual abuse prior to the kickoff of games. It’s an idea Godenzi borrows from the playbook of soccer’s major governing body, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), who launched an anti-racism campaign in response to repeated acts of intolerance from players, fans, and management.
A similar campaign for the NFL will not resolve domestic violence or sexual abuse. It will, however, make room for a course of action that is essential and overdue. Of all the stakeholders in this latest NFL controversy, the ones who have remained on the sidelines are the active players. They have been silent observers, either willingly or because their bosses asked them to avoid the fray. Undoubtedly, however, a good number of them have been irritated about the unwanted distraction, upset that their public image has been tarnished, or genuinely outraged about the shocking display of violent behavior against women and children.
Such an initiative encourages NFL players to do something similarly bold in favor of nonviolent, respectful relationships with women and children. It would give the players an opportunity to step out of the shadow and speak up. It provides them a space right on their turf where they can demonstrate solidarity with their wives, girlfriends, daughters, and mothers, recognizing that in this specific realm there is no neutral zone. Either you condone violence against women or you don’t. And if you don’t, let the world know, on the field, at the game.
We encourage you to read the Dean’s Op Ed in its entirety in the Opinion section of the Boston Globe.
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