Ray Rice has been waived and I’m disappointed. I’m not mad that he’s gonna be unemployed this season. I’m not worried about what the Ravens running games is gonna look like, this is a “next man up” league and the Ravens will be mediocre like they were planning to be anyway. I’m disappointed that I’m going to have to watch ESPN and listen to a bunch of half-assed discussions about violence against women. It’s coming and we should all prepare ourselves for conversations that will grow increasingly hollow before we get our next Jadaveon Clowny injury update and the whole issue falls out of the news cycle.
On principal, I don’t even have a problem with the complexities of domestic violence being discussed on ESPN or sports talk radio. However, when it comes to complicated social issues these forums have failed to say anything that adds to the conversation. I can turn on my radio right now and hear the guy who calls in and says that he’s never hit his wife like he’s expecting a medal for his restraint. You can also hear the guy who thinks that anyone who hits women should be kicked out of league for life. And I’m sure the guy who thinks that Roger Goodell’s original two game suspension was light will be calling in a few times with his hot sports take before the night is over.
The reality of the situation is that Ray Rice is an easy target. At this point there are very few negative things you can say about Rice that would give anybody pause. Hitting women is wrong and it’s been ignored by society for way too long and now mothafuckas want bonus points and pats on the back for pointing out the obvious. (Shout out to Chris Berman’s bitch ass for trying to talk about what a tragedy it is that Rice would abuse a woman like that and we really need to help victims of abuse and OH SHIT THE PUNT GOT BLOCKED, THE CHARGERS ARE GONNA RECOVER!)
So we’re stuck with surface level conversations about abuse because it’s easy to discuss on this level, and pundits are trying to show they give a damn about something outside of sports while trying desperately to stay in their lane. This is like a sports pundit’s version of checking down to the running back. It’s the safe play. It doesn’t really advance the ball down field, but it doesn’t turn the ball over. We’ve all seen what happens when commentators try to fuck around and throw a deep ball and expand on something more complicated.
The above video is the media equivalent of throwing a deep ball and having it picked off and ran back for a pick six. They don’t let Alex Smith throw the deep ball because he doesn’t have the arm strength. And they shouldn’t let Stephen A Smith talk about domestic abuse because he can’t break down anything more complex than the triangle offense. Stephen A Smith could have saved himself a lot of trouble by just saying Rice deserved a longer suspension and then got back to his lane and explained to me why Kobe is still gonna be a threat this season. But naw, his dumb ass tried, and failed, to take a deeper look into male-female relationships. He deserved the suspension just for even trying to talk about it on anything other than the surface level. The sad part about is, he had a valid point. What I think he was trying to say was that there needs to a mutual level of respect between both members of a couple to make sure the situation doesn’t escalate to the point where physical confrontation is even a thought in anyone’s mind. But Stephen A Smith, who has been talking incoherently at volumes that frighten and confuse white people for years, chose his words poorly and had to issue an apology that basically said “I’m sorry you didn’t understand what I meant.”
This is what every sports pundit is afraid of. It’s hard to talk about because people in general, men in particular, suck at talking about these sorts of crimes. The real danger with sportscasters talking about this stuff is that the world of sports media is male dominated. I’m not about to listen while a bunch of men sit around and talk about this with limited contribution from their women coworkers. When this happens the people having these debates either sweep the issue under the rug and victim blame or they talk about dealing with abusers like it’s the intro to M.E.T.H.O.D Man. It’s a tough conversation to have and one that should not be facilitated by some sports pundit like Skip Bayless. (For the record, no conversation about anything in life should start with an opinion from Bayless.)
But, if we are lucky, there is one worthwhile conversation that can come out of this that the sports networks are capable of handling. Lets talk about how with his handling of the situation, Roger Goodell has officially submitted his application for fuck nigga of the year. Either Goodell and his investigators couldn’t find that video before TMZ posted it on Monday or he was complicit in a cover up and hoped the video would never surface. Remember back in the day when this dude would just launch an investigation, and people would just catch suspensions left and right and he would stand at the podium like, “Trust me, if you knew what I knew you would have done the same thing,”? How you let TMZ jump your route like that? TMZ focuses most of their energy on celebrity sittings. Goodell is out here getting metaphorically bitch slapped by a well-organized group of paparazzi. How can anyone take him seriously now? Goodell looks like a fool and all of his “strong” disciplinary action looks like a front now. Goodell probably knows the store where Josh Gordon got his blunt wraps from but didn’t know about the video of what happened inside the elevator with Ray and Janay Rice until one of his friends posted it on his Facebook wall. With his credibility in question, the people who talk sports have a lane in which to discuss this situation without talking about stupidly about the oppression of women.
We should let the people who are more qualified to talk about domestic abuse talk about it outside the arena of sports. It been proven time and time again when you let sports commentators talk about this topic, they either put their foot in their mouth or write well-meaning but incredibly stupid columns like this. (In this column Jason Whitlock sounds like one of those white people who didn’t know how bad racial tensions were in this country until the Ferguson protests.) So, to avoid me having to link to another stupid column by Whitlock or anyone else from the world of sports journalism, lets hope that the sportscasters of the world focus on a topic they can actually handle and start debating whether or not Goodell should keep his job.