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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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NFL vs. domestic violence?

Tanner Garza — THE BATTALION
Tanner Garza — THE BATTALION

After an NFL season marred by domestic and sexual abuse scandal, concerns about violence and sexual assault have added another dimension to the sports-heavy discussions that usually surround the Super Bowl.
Prominent NFL players such as Eli Manning and Jason Witten have taken part in public service announcements that began October 2014 to combat domestic violence, and the inaction that perpetuates it. The PSAs, including the most recent one released Tuesday, are part of a campaign called the NO MORE movement, a series led by the Joyful Heart Foundation.
In the the NO MORE series titled “Speechless,” the campaign displays the unscripted emotions that domestic abuse elicits from players and celebrities attempting to talk about the topic.
Tasha Dubriwny, an associate professor of communication whose research focuses on the intersections of feminism, health and politics, said while the PSAs were a necessary response to the controversial issues involving such cases as Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice, the NFL needs to take real steps to tackle the problem internally.
“We have to have more than public messaging here,” Dubriwny said. “As somebody who watches the NFL and is a fan of football, I’m not ready to stand up and applaud until I see internal changes as well.”
Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was indicted mid-February of last year when video surfaced that showed him dragging his then-girlfriend, now-wife from an elevator after physical violence between the couple.
And former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson reached a plea agreement with prosecutors after child abuse charges were leveled against him for striking his son with a tree branch.
In addition to the NO MORE campaign, the NFL produced a video in partnership with Texas A&M this fall called “A Call to Coaches: Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Awareness,” said Jason Cook, senior associate athletics director for external affairs.
“This was a video that included coach Sumlin that was mailed to every high school and college coach around the country, encouraging them to be aware of and act against domestic violence and abuse,” Cook said. “This is a very significant issue nationally, but one Texas A&M has assumed a leadership role in as well.”
The video shows Head Coach Kevin Sumlin speaking to the players about the core value of respect.
Cook said Texas A&M athletics also has a series of seminars at the start of every year, one of which, titled “The Consequences of Your Actions,” is mandatory for all student athletes at New Student-Athlete Orientation and addresses domestic abuse, along with other issues. During the seminar, current and former athletes as well as faculty and coaching staff share advice and testimony to the new athletes.
“We have, for our football team, several speakers that come through on a very regular basis,” Cook said. “And then coach Sumlin has spoken personally to the team about being aware of and acting against violence and domestic abuse.”
Dubriwny said domestic violence in the NFL and among athletes is indicative of a broader social problem.
“It’s particularly visible here because these men are very famous — we see them on TV every day and we’re now becoming aware of the fact that they also engage in domestic violence,” Dubriwny said. “But domestic violence is not confined to the NFL.”
Sonia Mahabir, assistant coordinator in the Women’s Resource Center, said it’s important for everyone to be more engaged in preventing domestic violence in our community and the NO MORE campaign should help spark the conversation.
The Women’s Resource Center offers presentations on a variety of domestic and sexual abuse topics. The center also organizes the Silent Witness Project, a traveling memorial that displays domestic violence stories on victim silhouettes.
“The Women’s Resource Center’s Silent Witness Project is currently on display in the Academic Building,” Mahabir said. “The traveling memorial hopes to raise awareness about dating domestic violence in our community and spark conversation.”

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