As details of the Ray Rice incident continue to surface, the emerging picture is one of an NFL all too willing to quietly tolerate a player committing physical abuse. It’s a picture of a commissioner who is negligent at best and monstrous at worst. Public outrage at NFL head Roger Goodell and at the league is justified, but has still left unaddressed a nagging possibility: What if domestic violence also occurs outside the National Football League?
Even if it is a remote possibility, the question is still worth considering. Is there a chance this issue affects anyone other than pro football players and their partners?
It’s impossible to tell without more evidence, and thankfully the problem seems limited to the NFL so far. However, if it turns out to run deeper than that—if, for example, we saw similar patterns of misogyny and aggression in other sports, in pop music, or, God forbid, in American culture at large—it would be our duty as a nation to take swift action.
The league’s revision of its disciplinary policy and the Baltimore Ravens’ decision to cut Ray Rice are certainly a start. Still, it could be argued that these steps would not sufficiently address broader problems with domestic violence in America, were such problems to hypothetically exist.
For now, let’s just hope what happened to Janay Rice was a relatively isolated incident, and that once the embattled league has dealt with its issues, domestic violence is something we won’t need to worry about for a long time.