John 3,16I am a HUGE football fan. I love it. I love dedicating my Sundays to 12 straight hours of NFL happiness. But, I am also a female. Oh, and I am a feminist. Btw, feminist just simply means that I want an equal shot. So, you can imagine that I have had a hard time with the recent controversies in the NFL. This is nothing new, it is just a different kind of violence on a different target. Whether it is a dog, your wife, or your little child, it comes back to violence and it is disturbing. A lot of things are going to have to change, and they need to start with our babies. I believe that this ‘problem’ starts young, and continues until it is a news story.

James Brown ‘nailed it’ the other night when he said it starts with things like “you throw like a girl”. I know that might seem crazy to some of you but it is true. My whole life I spent my life defending my athleticism. You see, I didn’t throw like a girl and I didn’t want to. That was ‘bad’. From the moment girls are born, they are seen as the weaker sex. Boys feel superior and entitled. Girls can act like boys (play with trucks, wear blue, etc), but if a boy acts like a girl (plays dress up, and wears pink, etc.) that is a problem. Quit being a sally, go swing a bat. When boys fight and wrestle and pick on each other, ‘boys will be boys…’ Not to mention any boy that does show promise in sports, is seen as superior, not only to girls but less athletic boys.

Fast-forward to high-school. Football players run the school. They walk around with their jerseys on game day like gods. They are put on a pedestal because they are heroes during football season. They are already some of the biggest, strongest kids in the school, and on top of that they are tough and popular. There is often very little consequences for little mini-violences: sexual harrassment of cheerleaders, bullying in the hallway, intimidation in the locker room.

Next comes college for the real strong athletes. If you thought these guys were big, popular, and treated like heroes in high school, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Education is not that important. The universities get them through their classes. We need to focus on getting these boys bigger, stronger, faster so they can hit harder and harder. There are even less consequences for increasingly violent behavior. We hear stories all of the time of the sexual assault cases that get swept under the rug by the ‘programs’. They are taught that they can get away with almost anything, as long as they keep performing on the field.

The show. Now they are in the pros. They have gotten very little education. They have been treated like gods for the last 8 years of their lives. They also have taken about a thousand shots to the head. No accountability, no education, focus on violence, brain injuries, oh- and here is a million dollars. What could go wrong?

Okay, so there are a ton of generalizations in there. There are good people in sports, there are good coaches, and good schools. But, what I described IS happening. This is what I propose:

Parenting- we need to teach empathy and compassion to our boys! No longer is ‘well he’s a boy’ an excuse to not talk about feelings and emotions. Our job as parents is to make sure our children are kind to everyone and everything regardless of gender. We also need to stop acting like being a girl, or doing something like a girl is less-than. Our boys should look up to our girls like our girls look up to our boys.

High-school and college- Education needs to be more of a focus. If you can’t actually pass, you can’t actually play. If you break a rule, you can’t play. If you bully someone, you can’t play. No hazing, no harrassment. Follow the rules like everyone else, or there are consequences!

Pro’s- Have mandatory classes and counceling. Teach men how to treat their wives, children (some of them might have had a pretty rough upbringing. they might not know…). Teach men how to handle money for the first time. Teach them about responsible gun ownership (or better yet, outlaw guns for active NFL players). Have women teach the classes. Have women in the organizations. Have women doing more than cheerleading from the sidelines. Have women athletic trainers and doctors on staff.

And, come on NFL! 6 game suspensions for beating your spouse? You beat your wife, you’re out for the season. You get a DUI, you’re out for the season. You ‘discipline’ your child to the point of bruises and lacerations, you’re out for the season. Oh, and you can’t come back until you have done community service, gone through counceling, and passed a psych evaluation. These men are so lucky to be making millions doing what they love. It is not an easy job, but in many ways it is a gift. They are supposed to be role-models and we should expect more from them. I certainly expect from the commissioner and the league.

And lastly, my teams’ colors are orange and blue, I do not need a pink and sparkly Bears jersey. How insulting!