This post was originally a series of tweets on 10/23/2016. I’m repackaging and expanding on them for posterity.
I’ve been thinking about domestic violence and professional sports. This is largely because of the NFL’s total incompetence, but the other leagues certainly have their own failings. I’ve tried to brainstorm a comprehensive, reasonable policy, but the factors in play make it difficult. How do you penalize the abuser without hurting the abused? How do you balance the legal process and internal consequences? I’m sure my ideas are flawed in some ways, but here’s my pitch.
- Create an independent panel of professionals specializing in domestic violence, spousal abuse, and family counseling to investigate and provide judgment on alleged cases of domestic violence. This hopefully eliminates league and team officials from protecting their players with half-assed investigations.
- Establish the burden of proof in a way similar to the NCAA (more likely than not), rather than court of law (without a doubt).
- Allow the panel to create guidelines for suspension lengths for violators. For example, an automatic suspension for 20% of the season. Maybe the suspensions scale up for repeat offenders?
- Players’ pay during the suspension is paid by their team to an independently managed pool that the victims can withdraw from at any time. This would hopefully avoid the problem where loss of their abusive partner’s earnings prevents victims from pursuing complaints. It would also ensure that teams view abusiveness by players negatively (they won’t want to pay salary for suspended player).
- Invest league money in domestic violence awareness, prevention, and support organizations with track records of success, plus extra donations any time a player is suspended. Partner with the organizations to provide appropriate training and mental health resources for players and their families.