Content Note: Domestic Violence
Football has always been a part of my blood. My dad lived and breathed Texas A&M football, and while I rebelled to become a University of Texas fan and Dallas Cowboy, my love of the game remained the same. Last year, I commissioned a Skepchick Fantasy Football League, as well as placed second in my office league. Every spring, a new football season draws closer, free agency shake-ups occur, the draft takes place, and my itch for the season gets stronger.
This year that changed.
Earlier this month, it was announced that the Dallas Cowboys would pick up free agent Greg Hardy, formerly of the Carolina Panthers. If you just started watching the NFL last season, you may not know who Hardy is, because he was suspended for all but one game due to domestic abuse charges brought by his ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder. Despite being convicted of those charges (which were later overturned on an appeal when Holder did not show up in court), he continued to draw a salary of $13.1 million.
I won’t get into the graphic details of the charges, because they sicken me. If you’re curious, much ink has been spilled about them elsewhere. I also won’t get into whether hiring Hardy is a good “strategic” move for the Cowboys. I don’t give a shit how talented someone is if they’re known to have a history of domestic violence.
I’ve toyed with the idea of boycotting the Cowboys, my life-long team, and supporting another team. Over the past several years, I’ve become a fan of the Seahawks’ brashness and social consciousness, and of course I was ecstatic when they beat the team that took the Cowboys out of the playoffs last year. And since I already cheer for Seattle’s other football team (their soccer team, that is), it’d be a natural progression to cheer for their NFL team too.
But part of me wonders if simply switching allegiances makes a damn bit of difference. After all, the NFL itself, the power structure that every team in the league is beholden to, is hardly guilt-free. After coming under fire last year for the handling of the Ray Rice situation, there was heightened scrutiny on the league’s handling of domestic violence issues, with many stating that the league’s actions were empty. And it’s not like Hardy is the only alleged abuser in the NFL (or even the only one playing for the Cowboys). Does cheering for another team matter when the entire structure needs to be burnt to the ground?
So what do I do? Give up on football entirely (there are plenty of convincing reasons to do that apart from the domestic violence issues)? Switch to a more progressive team? Stick with the status quo because, at the end of the day, all of our faves are problematic?
I think I hoped that in writing this, I’d come to some grand decision. I don’t have the answer right now, because I’m not sure there is a right answer. I definitely don’t think there’s a universal answer for every person reading this who may be struggling with the same questions. We all make compromises with our favorite musicians, artists, movies, sports teams, and brands. We try to strike a balance between the moral discomfort we live with, and minimizing as much harm as possible.
I guess this season I’ll figure out where that balance falls.
Featured Image by Steve