Ray Rice. Roger Goodell. Stephen A. Smith. The NFL. The Baltimore Ravens. These are the characters. They drive the narrative of this sordid story.
But something is missing.
Ray Rice strikes his fiancée (now his wife), knocks her out, and carries her unconscious body through the lobby of an Atlantic City casino. He’s detained, arrested and charged with aggravated assault.
Twitter, most media outlets, and even some players blow their collective lids because Ray Rice hit a woman.
Rice goes on to apologize (his first of many) at a poorly conceived press conference that was live-tweeted by the Ravens. Baltimore focuses on Janay Rice and sends out bizarre tweets such as this gem.
Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) May 23, 2014
Twitter and many media outlets get in an uproar because of Baltimore’s tone deafness regarding Ray Rice hitting a woman.
Roger Goodell meets with Rice and his wife, and then chooses to suspend the running back for two games.
Twitter and a large faction of the media cry foul because Goodell seemingly views marijuana indulgence as more inflammatory than domestic abuse.
Stephen A. Smith says that women should do their part not to get beaten like drums.
Twitter and media have a field day over Smith’s misguided comments and subsequent apologies.
The Ravens post videos of fans cheering Rice during OTAs.
Twitter, once again, blows its fuse.
The trend is obvious: wash, rinse, Twitter react, repeat.
But do you see what’s missing?
There’s plenty of talk around domestic violence, but very little talk about domestic violence.
We get pissed that Stephen A. Smith missed his mark, or that Goodell carried a light hand for once in his life, or that Rice is getting off easy. Yet our outrage over the fallout obscures the issue at hand.
“We all know hitting women is wrong.”
“Never hit a woman.”
“Domestic violence is a serious matter.”
This is as deep as we dive. And, given the landscape of sports media, it’s generally men throwing out these blanket statements.
There’s very little mention of statistics: 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime; HUD lists domestic violence as the third leading cause of homelessness among families; women between the ages of 20-24 (a strong age demographic in men for sports viewership) are at the highest risk for domestic violence.
But such is the world in this information age. The next flare up is a click or soundbite away. It’s the reaction to the reaction to the reaction, not the cause.
When stepping back and addressing the Rice situation, don’t we owe it to ourselves (and the parties involved) to examine why yet another athlete felt the need/urge to strike down a woman? Or why Rice’s now-wife has felt the need to apologize for being knocked out?
We’ve reached the outer-regions of pious social media rage in this story. Maybe it’s time to start working back towards the center, redirecting our anger, and channeling our emotions towards the problem at hand. Ray Rice is the personification of an American epidemic.