As I watched another weekend of NFL Football featuring pink ribbon balls, pink towels, pink gloves, pink shoes and pink ballcaps on the sidelines, I was wondering why the league doesn't have a weekend dedicated to a social issue that really needs more "awareness". Let's face it, there probably isn't a person left in the US who doesn't know that breast cancer exists. These pink campaigns have moved to full-on fundraising--rather than "awareness". So why not use the giant platform of the NFL to shed more light on the problem of domestic violence and child abuse in this country?
This line of thought stems from the beating death of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's two year old son by the new boyfriend of the child's mother last week. As far as we have come in allowing women (and some men) to admit to having breast cancer, is how far we still have to go to convince women and children to come forward with their allegations of abuse. While they may claim its "the first time that ever happened", the vast majority of those arrested and charged with domestic violence or abuse have a history of such incidents. It's usually only after someone is sent to the hospital--or dies--that the pattern of abuse is uncovered. The alleged victims are often to scared (or unable to) to got to police and report the prior abuse on their own.
And that is where the NFL can raise the "awareness" of not only the problem--but also send a strong message to abusers--with what I call "Man Up Weekend". You could start by adding the names of those killed by domestic violence or child abuse to the sidelines around the field of play. Every camera shot would pick up the memorials and give viewers some idea of the extent of the problem. Or the pictures of the victims could be placed on signs and hung from the guardrails in front of the first row of seats. Public service announcements could run on the network broadcasts and in the stadium featuring players telling men that it is "not tough" to beat up on women and kids--and to encourage unmarried fathers to remain a part of their kids' lives.
An even more powerful statement could be made if players were given special nameplates on the backs of their jerseys to describe the challenges they have overcome to get where they are. Imagine what it would be like to see the all four receivers in the spread formation with "I was abused" on their backs as they line up for a play. Or to see the entire defensive line letting the world know that "I had no Dad". That's a bit more powerful than the statement made by pink shoes isn't it?
Of course, Man Up Weekend will never happen in the NFL because the topic of domestic violence and abuse hits a little too close for the league. It would be a bit embarrassing for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to beg out of doing a PSA about violence toward women, after two ladies accused him of forcing them to have sex with him. And Antonio Cromartie of the Jets might appear a bit hypocritical in telling men to be a part of their kids' lives when he wasn't able to name all eight of the children he has fathered by seven different women in six different states during HBO's Hard Knocks a few years back.
It's obvious that the country--and the NFL in particular--could use a Man Up Weekend to raise awareness of the issues of domestic violence and child abuse more than the "feel good" donning of some pink gloves and shoes.