It's Saturday, so what's more appropriate than talking a little college football? As I've started the difficult task of identifying celebrity and sports figures who've made the news due to a domestic violence incident, I spent more time than I would have liked on ESPN.com. To begin identifying couples, I simply typed domestic violence into their search field and began the slog through all of the news articles that populated to identify couples.
Now, I'm a baseball fan. So, I was quite curious to see which of the MLB superstars and lessor known players were going to make an appearance in my search term. In fact, I was really eager to find the coverage on Milton Bradley, who had a dramatic stint with my team, the Seattle Mariners. It turned out, Milton Bradley didn't even make my ESPN.com list since ESPN.com NEVER actually called it domestic violence in their coverage of his legal troubles.
What ended up becoming shockingly apparent however, was the shear amount of reports regarding college football players. To be sure, there were plenty of articles on pro-football players, baseball and basketball players, boxers, and even a jokey. There were also reports of other college athletes. At first glance, it also appears that the players on professional teams were covered more in depth and on an ongoing basis. However, since 2009, of the 47 couples identified on ESPN's coverage alone, 14 incidents involved a college football player (30%).
Now, this correlation between sports and domestic violence (DV) is not news to anyone in the movement to end DV. One of my favorite activists, Jackson Katz, has long been advocating for work with student-athletes to prevent DV and surely there are numerous studies that have investigated exactly this topic. One thing I found very interesting about all of these reports was that they were all seemingly independent events- no context related to an epidemic of DV was provided, they mostly didn't seem to reference DV in sports news regarding other players. There were a few gems that DID try to make the connection between all of these incidents (here, here, and here), but they were far and few between. So, while Penn State is continuing to make the news for the horrific events that happened there, a quieter but ongoing epidemic seems to continue to go unnoticed.
I am not trying to argue that most college football players are abusive, nor that people should abandon their love of the sport (far be it from me to get in the way of the public and college football!). However, these preliminary insights do suggest a need for ongoing strategies to address DV in the culture of college football. More analysis of these articles may be warranted: How were the incidents framed? Was it making news because of the violence or because the player was going to miss a game? What is the public's reaction to reading these stories? Did the articles blame the victim or hold the abuser accountable for the violence?
The activist in me wants to see more prevention work targeted to men and boys. Intervening in sports' culture certainly seems like a worthwhile strategy. Futures Without Violence has produced some excellent material in this vein. Check out there PSA's here.
Was watching a repeat episode of the Big Bang Theory today, and I found Amy's retort about the unnecessary nature of romantic relationships funny. I found it hilarious. Below is the scene:
Scene: The stairwell. Amy is sitting on the bottom step.
Sheldon (wearing a heavy coat and false nose and glasses): EZ Aquarii B, EZ Aquarii C, excuse me, madam.
Amy: I believe a misunderstanding may have occurred when I asked you to meet my mother.
Sheldon: No misunderstanding. I’ve learned what that request actually means, and I don’t want to be joined to another object by an inclined plane wrapped helically around an axis.
Amy: In what way are you screwed? All I want to do is present you as my boyfriend to my mother so she’ll be satisfied that I’m in a relationship.
Sheldon: So we’d be perpetrating a ruse?
Sheldon: And you haven’t fallen hopelessly in love with me?
Amy: Don’t be absurd. I find the notion of romantic love to be an unnecessary cultural construct that adds no value to human relationships.
Sheldon: Amy Farrah Fowler, that’s the most pragmatic thing anyone has ever said to me.
Amy: I trust this clarification allows us to return to boy-slash-friend-slash-girl-slash-friend status.
Sheldon: Of course. Would you like to join me for Chinese food?
Amy: Sheldon, please, you’re suffocating me.
Sheldon: My apologies. Good night, Amy.
Amy: Good night, Sheldon.
A nice follow-up piece by NPR today about teens views on Chris Brown and Rihanna. Annoyingly, most teens continue to blame Rihanna for the incident rather than the perpetrator of the crime. The article references his lyrics promoting unhealthy relationship dynamics and you can check those out here: Deuces (Brown). I wonder what it would take to actually change teen perspectives en mass on this topic.....
The NYTimes published a very sweet article about a couple who have both been diagnosed on the autism spectrum and their story of creating a loving relationship. Very interesting implications for folks with autism and aspergers but what I found most intriguing was what new insights research on the romantic relationships of people with autism might provide for all people seeking intimate partnerships. A very intriguing angle on learning about relationships beyond the gender line. Check out the full report here: Navigating Love and Autism.