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Is domestic violence football journalism's steroids story?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Dick Whitman, Sep 10, 2014.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    As I just noted on the main Ray Rice thread, the news media is starting to sift through Roger Goodell's record on domestic violence, and it ain't pretty. The conclusion is going to be that the NFL has long had a DV problem, the league has ignored it, and so have the people who have covered it.

    Baseball writers were offering mea culpas for years for not going after PEDs in the sport rather than writing paens to McGwire and Sosa.

    Is the NFL press corps similarly culpable?
  2. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Peter King = Tom Verducci
  3. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    I don't think it's comparable to PEDs in baseball, which you could see it on the field and in the numbers. And Barry Bonds' head.

    Not to minimize the domestic violence issue in any way, but it's not something that's necessarily on a sports reporter's radar unless it's right in front of them. If it doesn't involve the team you cover, it's a nonissue. If you're a national writer, sure, that's different, but until this whole Rice saga there simply was not an outcry for an investigation on the league and DV. Not saying that one should need an outcry to go digging, but let's face it, 99.99 percent of the sports public didn't care.
  4. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    I will be majorly surprised if anyone is talking about domestic violence and the NFL in 6 months -- unless there is another incident like this one. The Rice thing was unique in that it didn't happen at home, in private, and it was caught on videotape. The graphic nature of the second videotape is what got it attention. Not the fact that people suddenly found religion. Everyone had already moved on with regard to Rice. Then the second videotape came public. This will remain an issue for a short while, especially if there is another domestic violence arrest sometime soon. If not, everyone will move on.

    Football's culture is such that domestic violence is probably more likely from NFL players than people in general or players from other sports leagues. I seriously doubt that domestic violence is more of a problem today under Roger Goodell than it was under Tagliabue or Pete Rozell. It has probably always been a problem. The difference today is that a videotape went viral.

    I don't know why there is a need now to decide who is "culpable." Players who hit their wives or girlfriends or fiances are culpable for their behavior. In the past, no incident was a big enough PR problem for the league to really take a stand. People didn't care. This one became a big deal -- because of the video. Roger Goodell didn't anticipate the negative PR would spiral -- apparently he miscalculated on the power of video images. So he did a piss poor job of handling it. Unless you get more instances of incidents that get caught graphically on camera, I suspect everyone will have moved on in a few months, if not sooner.
  5. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    You leave Michael Sam out of this.
  6. RecoveringJournalist

    RecoveringJournalist Well-Known Member

    It is amazing how little was written about it. I wrote the story when I was still covering the NFL and when the story came out, the other writers said, "That was great, I'm glad someone finally wrote it." and I had to resist the urge to ask them why they didn't, but to some extent, I knew the answer, because the story pissed people off and I had a couple players who didn't want to talk to me the rest of the season as a result.

    I don't know that it's as bad as the steroid situation because the NFL beat writers can hide behind the "Oh our newsside handles stories like this." which just begins to give you an idea of how deep this goes with helping these guys do this with virtually no recourse.
  7. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    For a long time when something bad happened, the NFL would push the line that "hey, there are bad apples everywhere, you only hear about our arrests because we're famous."

    They aren't doing that anymore. It's like an image consultant informed them that most American employers do not in fact count dangerous felons as 5 percent or more of their workforce.
  8. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    I think a big reason this didn't coalesce as an issue was raised by someone on a previous thread.

    These stories are often kicked over to a news side reporter, who has no reason to stick with it. The guys covering the beat aren't assigned to cover it, and don't have the time to look at the broader issue, given their day to day responsibilities.

    Only the guys covering the sport on a league wide basis, or long form/magazine writers who don't typically cover sports, had the opportunity to cover this story properly. The former rely on league sources for access/leaks. The dearth of coverage probably wasn't enough to attract the interest of the latter.
  9. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    Whether they're culpable or not -- I think some of the top end guys are -- no it's not the same.

    There were lot of reporters then -- and more now -- who simply didn't think it was wrong, MLB steroids. They didn't care. They don't care. They have care now in an "official record" kind of sense. But they don't care.

    I don't know of any reporter who thinks Ray Rice ought to be able to hit his wife.

    Plus - and I mean this in a nice way - the steroids deal was enough of a "medical" or "science" story to scare off some reporters. It means delving into which drugs are OK, which aren't, etc, and I think some folks have, well, just sort of a "fuck it" kind of attitude to science and math. Analytics? Fuck it. Concussion stuff? Fuck it.

    In fact, I think the concussion thing, that's MLB's steroids issue. Reporters, even now, will know a guy has a concussion, and they'll let a coach lie right to their face. We know what it does now. We know what players risk by playing with severe head injuries. And a lot of reporters just kinda say "fuck it, it's their body." Ditto with painkillers.
  10. RecoveringJournalist

    RecoveringJournalist Well-Known Member

    It was explained to me once that, "You only have to cover it if they get suspended." and it was said to me like, "Aren't you lucky that you don't have to cover this?"

    When a Pro Bowl player is arrested for domestic violence, it should be in the sports section, not grouped in with others on Page 4 of the metro section with normal people who had gotten DUIs.

    I remember talking about the arrest on the radio and someone called up and said, "Wait, I didn't see anything about this. When did this happen?"

    I'm pretty sure that's the norm. It certainly was at the places I worked.
  11. RecoveringJournalist

    RecoveringJournalist Well-Known Member

    Also, with domestic abuse arrests, you have proof. You have the arrest report.
  12. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Not that all the folks involved are African-American, but did race scare reporters away?
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