[OP-ED] October’s Over NFL, Now What?

I’m sitting at home one Sunday watching Sunday Night Football. The Falcons and the Buccaneers are playing a pretty intense game. Throughout the game, I’m constantly reminded that it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month because of the pink paraphernalia on both teams uniforms. I continue flipping through the channels feverently, and I discover there’s a National Coming Out Day in October, and it’s also National Lupus Awareness Month, American Cheese Month, the host of National Cat Day, and even National Cyber Security Awareness Month. While each cause is spreading awareness for their respective causes, I never saw anything on Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) – a month that’s long stashed under the rug amongst many other unspeakable crimes against women. By now, I was irritated and I wanted to figure out why.

So I researched other forms of DVAM events – particularly within the mainstream – for any type of exposure on one of America’s most ignored subject. The national ‘No More’ campaign features actors from crime and drama shows, and recently moved Mariska Hargitay to come forward as an A-list advocate for the group. Each year, the group sponsors a viral PSA on domestic violence and sexual assault, reaching millions of Twitter and Facebook users. Rapper Nicki Minaj’s mother recently unveiled the Carol Maraj Foundation, which advocates for women’s rights around the globe. While Carol could’ve opted to use her daughter as a platform for the budding charity as opposed to the NFL’s methods, she chose a much more ethical approach by highlighting the one domestic violence statistic that gets to me the most – that it’s the leading cause of injury to women, even more than rapes, muggings, and car accidents combined.

Even though efforts by the No More campaign and Maraj are commendable, it’s not even enough for a cause that affects such a large demographic of the American public. Every nine seconds, a woman is assaulted or beaten. Ninety-two percent of women view domestic violence and sexual assault as their biggest safety concern. Over eight million days of work are lost per year for women dealing with domestic violence issues. With these alarming statistics rising each year, could it be possible that domestic violence isn’t as important to the general public as other causes? Or could it be that the subject is so controversial that it can’t be discussed in the public eye? I had to turn back to the Falcons-Buccaneers game to wrap my head around things a bit more.
nflbreastcancerFor the last five years, NFL players have worn pink to show their support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Recent reports have confirmed that out of the massive amount of “pinkwashing” done by the league via awareness-tailored merchandise, less than ten percent actually goes towards breast cancer research. But on a different note, out of the league’s thirty-two teams, twenty-one of them had at least one player with a domestic violence or sexual assault charge last year. Strange opposites, but true. But I guess there’s a double misconception here, because some men are also victims of both breast cancer and domestic violence. While I didn’t find any legitimate statistics on NFL players and breast cancer itself, it would seem that this would be a better slant for the league in terms of awareness.
dv_barbieEven though breast cancer is a leading cause of death among women, domestic violence issues are just as important for one simple reason – there’s no doctor required to make it stop. Motivational workshops, group therapy, and even the most basic awareness activities and events can aid in deterring domestic violence offenders from abusing their spouses. With domestic violence and unlike breast cancer, education is more than the key – it’s the solution. Every person in the world can assist in the fight against domestic violence, while ending or reducing breast cancer is limited to medical practitioners. Many domestic violence advocates have come together to petition the League to take a slant towards domestic violence, to no official response as of yet. So the next time I’m watching football in October, I’ll think about how much education should go towards the NFL players on domestic violence. I’ll think about that ninety-percent going towards the NFL for breast cancer awareness. But most importantly, I’ll think about how the causes are important to both men and women, which should give them equal playing time in terms of air time by the NFL.

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