Twenty years ago, the topic of domestic violence was easier to sweep under the rug. With things like the “#metoo” movement, the spotlight has been firmly placed on this issue. Sadly, it still happens every day. Big sports stars seem to get away with it much easier.
In 2014, two NFL stars, Carolina Panthers Greg Hardy and Baltimore Ravens Ray Rice had high profile cases of domestic abuse.
Hardy was accused of throwing his then girlfriend Nicole Holder on a bed covered in assault rifles while choking her and threatening her life. Pictures of Holder’s injuries were released, showing multiple bruises on her neck and back. Hardy was convicted on charges of domestic violence. Upon appeal, the charges were dropped. He was then re-instated into the league.
Ray Rice knocked out his fiancée and now wife Janay in an elevator late one night in Atlantic City, NJ. Video footage from the elevator went viral. Rice is then seen from a hallway camera dragging an unconscious Janay by her hair. The NFL suspended him for only two games.
This past week, two more hot topic cases of domestic violence came up in sports.
In the MLB, Toronto Blue Jays Pitcher Roberto Osuna was traded to the defending champion Houston Astros. A talented player, 23-year-old Osuna was still serving a 75-game suspension for violating the league’s domestic abuse policy after an incident that occurred with his girlfriend on May 8. Current Astros star pitcher and future hall-of-famer Justin Verlander criticized Astros minor leaguer Danry Vazquez on twitter earlier this year for a similar incident by saying, “I hope the rest of your life without baseball is horrible. You deserve all that is coming your way.” Verlander was skeptical when asked by reporters about the team acquiring Osuna.
The following day, Ohio State University head coach Urban Meyer, one of the most powerful names in college football, was placed on paid administrative leave. While not accused of anything illegal himself, his long time assistant coach Zack Smith was fired for a domestic violence charge that happened in 2015.
Meyer got his first break coaching as a grad assistant in 1985 under Earle Bruce at OSU. Bruce is Smith’s grandfather. Meyer hired Smith in 2007 while coaching at Florida. There was a 2009 domestic violence charge against Smith with his now ex-wife, which Meyer did report to the school. Smith kept his job. When Meyer went to OSU, he brought Smith along.
Text messages from victim Courtney Smith have come out from the 2015 incident. Meyer’s wife Shelley, as well as several other team coaches’ wives, received texts from Courtney, some of which had pictures of bruising.
At the July 24 Big Ten media day, Meyer claimed that he had no knowledge of the incident. On August 3, Meyer sent out a detailed letter to “Buckeye Nation” on twitter apologizing, admitting that he was aware of the incident.
The point is that domestic violence must stop. Couples will argue and scream. There is never a reason to put your hands on your significant other. High profile stars cannot get away with it anymore. It does not matter where you work. If you do so, you should be fired. If your boss tries to cover it up, he or she should be terminated as well. That will lead to a better place for us as a society.