Tuesday, October 7, 2014
RAY RICE VIDEOTAPE CHANGING A CULTURE
Without the videotape, Ray Rice would be back in the NFL as if nothing ever happened.
Without the videotape, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, and Jonathan Dwyer would actually be
earning their paychecks instead of collecting them as they prepare to defend themselves in
Without the videotape, an entire sports culture would probably still get to hide behind the
entire "due process" curtain and allow their stars to compete while they await try to defend
themselves against acts that are indefensible.
Without it, just about every league, governing body, and college coach in the country would
probably still be coddling and protecting it's players.
That doesn't appear to be happening anymore. This videotape has fallen in line behind
the one of Rodney King getting clubbed by L.A. cops in 1991 in terms of impact on
our society. Ray Rice became a household name and that videotape has morphed into
a moral compass to which league's now gauge their players by.
The videotape capturing Rice cold-cocking his wife in an elevator is that powerful
and continues to gain strength. As soon as it the shock wore off and the pressure to act
mounted, team's got a little bolder and stood up to their stars. Rice got cut and all eyes
shifted to other team's who had players in trouble with the law. The Vikings suspended
Peterson, the Carolina Panthers did the same with Hardy. The Arizona Cardinals followed
suit and put Dwyer on ice after he was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend.
As hard as it was for NFL teams to write monster game checks to players who weren't
playing, they did the right thing. They sent a message that money and winning was
taking a backseat, or sitting on the console at least, to character and good behavior.
The Miami Dolphins suspended defensive end Derrick Shelby after he got arrested
over the weekend and the Denver Broncos cut kicker Matt Prater after he returned
from a four-game suspension for violating the NFL' s substance abuse policy.
We rarely ever heard players "suspended indefinitely" before the Ray Rice videotape
emerged. Heck,even Rice was serving just a two-game suspension before it came out.
The videotape and the outrage that came as a result of it, finally forced other leaders
to open their eyes and get a clue. USA Swimming did nothing when Michael Phelps
was arrested for driving under the influence in 2004, but when the sport's biggest star
became a repeat offender last week, he was suspended for six months.
The governing body of USA is like your high school's sports council, it's there but
doesn't really do much. Whether it was because of the videotape and subsequent
actions of the NFL or their moral compass is just pointing north right now, USA
Swimming did the right thing by sending a message to Phelps and others that no
matter how big of a star you are, you will pay for it if you fail to represent the
sport in a proper way.
Let's face it, college and professional athletes have gotten away with things most
others in society don't. They have long been protected by coaches, colleges, and
even, in some cases, by cops. It has gone on for a long time. But that culture seems
to be changing no matter who you are, and that's a good thing.
The disgusting and reprehensible acts have been tolerated far too long and probably
would've continued if that Ray Rice videotaped hadn't been released.