Quick facts and disclaimer before you read:
- 90 percent of domestic violence cases don’t end in arrest.
- Over 12 million men and women are domestically abused in the United States every year.
- On average, 24 people are victims of rape or a abuse every minute according to http://www.thehotline.org/resources/statistics/
- Out of 1,000 rape cases, 994 perpetrators will walk free according to https://www.rainn.org/statistics/criminal-justice-system
I am in no way calling for people who are falsely accused to serve jail time. False accusations of rape and abuse should be taken seriously and those who falsely accuse others should be penalized. While this is a hot button topic that is emotionally charged, I will do my best to come at it in a subjective way by using facts and database records. Please read with an open mind and leave your fan side at the door.
The other day, my boyfriend and I were walking the Seaside Heights Boardwalk when he started to point out shirts honoring XXXTentacion. Knowing that it would get a rise out of me, he jokingly said that he should go in and buy one. I rolled my eyes and brushed off the comment because I know he was just pushing my buttons, but as we continued to walk, I continued to see more and more memorial shirts for a man who is known to have beaten his pregnant girlfriend and almost killed a gay man with his bare hands simply because he was gay.
I didn’t want to ruin one of our last days together with one of my rants so I kept my mouth closed and kept walking, but my mind was running with questions and thoughts about society and the things we see as wrong. As a sports fan, I see a lot of players accused and charged with domestic violence, but most of them are able to continue to play their sport and earn millions of dollars.
In 2016, there was a buzz on Twitter surrounding the possible reunion between Jose Reyes and the Mets.
As a fan, Reyes was someone I watched growing up and someone I had admired, and I liked the idea of giving him a second chance. I told myself that has long as he gets help and doesn’t do it again, he can play for my team, but now when I think about how the team and fanbase welcomed him back with open arms, I get frustrated.
This man had thrown his wife through a glass door. He put his hands on the woman he vowed to love and protect, the mother of his children, and he put her through a glass door.
The thought of my father doing something like that to my mother makes me want to put my fist through a glass door, yet the Mets welcomed him back and told him he can still play the game and get paid.
He did agree to counseling and therapy, and I think that’s great, but nothing changes the fact that he was physically violent with his wife. Many fans made comments along the lines of, “I don’t agree with what he did, but he said he is sorry and he is gonna do something to help himself.”
The Mets organization themselves said that Reyes deserved a second chance as long as he went through counseling. As long as he sees a therapist a couple of times, we will push the unspeakable act he committed behind us and let him play on our field, let his jersey be sold in our store, let him represent our team, and let him be in a position where kids can look up to him.
The organization never once said that what Reyes did was okay, in fact they did a lot of talking about how it was not okay, but at the end of the day, they signed him and let him play on their field. What message does that send?
Reyes is not the only athlete in the MLB who has laid his hands on a loved one and has ultimately gotten away with it.
Aroldis Chapman is considered one of the best closers in the game. He can throw over 100 mph and can be absolutely lights out when called upon.
However, Chapman also choked his then 22-year-old girlfriend and fired eight bullets into their Miami home in 2015.
No arrests were made due to conflicting stories and lack of cooperation on both parties, but Chapman did admit to firing the gun towards the home. At the time, Chapman belonged to the Cincinnati Reds, who looked to trade him to any team that wanted him. Chapman ended up in New York where he became the Yankees’ closer.
While in New York, Chapman served a 30-game suspension for the events that went down in that offseason. Chapman was adamant about the fact that he never laid a hand on his girlfriend, but accepted his suspension and voiced regret over his use of a firearm. The public was torn on the suspension. Many believed that it was not necessary, even though the pitcher had admitted to firing bullets into his home where family and friends gathered that same evening.
No arrest was made and he wasn’t even charged so why should he have had to serve a suspension? They’re taking our closer away, what are we supposed to do now? Your closer is also a human being. He is a human being who fired bullets into his own home and allegedly choked his own girlfriend. He is more than a baseball player or a source of points for your fantasy team. He is someone who is in the spotlight and is acting in a violent and life threatening way.
Kids watch him play, people wear his name or number on their back, twitter accounts are dedicated for him. Your team will survive a 30-day suspension, but who is to say that another person will survive another one of his outbreaks?
That same season, Chapman was sent to the Cubs where he won the World Series. A year ago he was choking a woman and firing bullets into their home, and now he is a World Series champion. What message does that send?
Something that has been on my mind about the Mets organization, and baseball in general, is their strange way of handling certain legal issues. Jeurys Familia served a 15 game suspension for laying his hands on his wife while Jenrry Mejia was banned from baseball because of his use of PEDs. We now know that Mejia’s ban is no longer in place, but why are there bans being placed on PED users and not people who beat their partners?
Baseball has a problem, but there is no question that the NFL has the biggest domestic violence issue out of every professional league. Ray Rice knocked his fiance unconscious, Santonio Holmes threw a glass at a woman in a night club, and Ra’Shede Hagemanwas charged with interfering with a call for emergency help, battery family violence and cruelty to children in the third degree.
Only one of those players was banned from playing football ever again. In 2014, there were 12 men playing in the NFL after being charged with various domestic violence cases, and in last year’s Super Bowl, there were five men playing that were accused of domestic violence or sexual assault. Nelson Agholor was accused of raping a woman in a strip club, but the charges never went through due to lack of sufficient evidence.
Julian Edelman was accused of reaching into a woman’s skirt and groping her. The charges were dropped because they couldn’t verify the victim’s story “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Jalen Mills allegedly punched a woman in the mouth in his apartment and knocked her unconscious. Mills said another woman did it, but witnesses say otherwise. Mills was not convicted as long as he agreed to pay for the victims medical bills and attend counseling.
Jordan Hicks was accused of raping a girl with another one of his college teammates while attending the University of Texas. Neither him or his teammate were convicted, but a reason was not listed. James Harrison slapped his girlfriend and broke her phone after calling the police during a heated argument in 2008. (I am aware that most of these men were not convicted of their crimes, but statistically, most men who are accused of rape walk free. I am in no way saying that these men did what they were accused of, but there is a culture surrounding rape that puts the victims in a position where they are almost never helped.)
He was arrested and convicted, but a judge dropped his charges once he began counseling. There was a man playing in the Super Bowl who was convicted and arrested because of domestic abuse. What message does that send?
It doesn’t just happen in professional sports. Brock Turner was one of the biggest and infamous rape cases in the recent years. The rapist was also a swimmer at Stanford when he raped an unconscious woman in an alley. He was convicted and sentenced to jail, but he only served three months. This man raped an unconscious woman, but only served three months in jail. Throughout the trial his own family cried victim and said that Turner was a good boy and that this would ruin his swimming career. His swimming career was put before the victim’s trauma. What message does that send?
PEDs are taken more seriously in professional sports than domestic abuse. Lance Armstrong had his titles taken from him because of using enhancing drugs, Alex Rodriguez is constantly bashed because of his drug use, but sports fans have no problem defending people who beat women simply because they can throw over 100 mph or because they are their childhood hero. There is the argument that PEDs are an athletes way of cheating and that is true, but why are there tighter rules and punishments on PEDs and not someone abusing their partner?
While it is easier to convict and prove the use of performance enhancing drugs, there is a deeper and more psychological issue that comes along with abusing another person. Cheating is wrong, but so is beating another human being. Players are being punished more for using PEDs than for threatening someone’s life. What message does that send?
There are millions of young kids that watch sports.
They see what is going on, most have access to internet and know what these players are doing. I have had kids that I babysit tell me that they really don’t care what their favorite player is doing off the field. We are showing kids that we care more about someone taking a performance enhancing drug than beating another human being. We are showing kids that you can mess up that badly and continue to play a game and get paid millions of dollars as long as you say you’re sorry and go to see a therapist a couple of times.
“People deserve second chances”
Yeah, people do deserve second chances, but you should not be allowed to stay in the spotlight after being accused and even convicted of unspeakable events. I am not the kind of person who believes that everyone accused did it.
I believe that people that falsely accuse others are just as bad as the people who commit the act, but we have to hold the people we put in the spotlight to higher standards.