By Giancarlo Santoro, Sports Editor
As we start to get into the tail-end of October, it may surprise many of you to know that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Unfortunately, it may not be as much of a surprise that a number of talented professional athletes are currently either on trial or being investigated for domestic violence.
One high-profile example is Ray Rice, 27, a former running back for National Football League team Baltimore Ravens.
Rice is accused of knocking out his wife, who was his girlfriend at the time, and dragging her unconscious body onto the street, all of which was recorded on a security camera.
The NFL’s response was to suspend Rice indefinitely. He was also cut from the Ravens and is awaiting trial in November.
Hope Solo, 32, the starting goalkeeper for the United States Women’s National Soccer team, is also awaiting trial in early November after being accused of assaulting her half-sister and 17-year-old nephew while intoxicated.
These two situations show that domestic violence is gender-blind. It also shows some athletes never learned the rule “don’t hit,” in pre-school.
There are differences in the two cases, however, mainly in the fact that Rice was caught on video versus Solo whose charges are written up on a police report.
While Rice’s foolishness is practically an open-and-shut case, his lawyers are preparing to argue that he should be reinstated into the league and only serve a six game suspension, the maximum number according to the NFL’s domestic abuse policy.
Meanwhile, Solo, who faces up to six months in jail if found guilty, has been representing the U.S. at the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship, and started in goal as early as a week ago.
All of this begs the question of why any sort of no tolerance policy regarding domestic and sexual abuse has not been drafted in American professional sports.
Of course, every situation is different, and the law “innocent until proven guilty,” should be followed.
If an athlete is on trial, surely the minimum penalty is that he or she should be banned from practice and games.
By not banning these players, it sends a message that athletes are exempt from punishment the rest of society faces.
It’s hard to measure the damage that is done to the image of the player and the team the player represents in situations like this, which is probably also why it is so difficult to come up with a minimum amount of time an athlete should serve a ban.
Double digits usually do the trick.
Surely 10 games should be considered, because the only way to teach athletes to follow the rules is to hit them where it hurts.
By taking them off the field.