Diana Moskovitz on Greg Hardy

I know blogging has been light here lately. It’s a temporary situation. Between the divorce book and other stuff going on (like my day job, etc), I just haven’t had the same time lately to focus on this. Plus, Colin Cowherd leaving ESPN has sapped some of my critical sports media mojo.

Speaking of the divorce book, it will be out on Thursday and is available for pre-order here.

Once it’s been published, I’ll have some more information about reviews, etc. If you buy it, read it and like it, and want to spread the word, that would be great.

OK, on to the show…

Diana Moskovitz, who is generally excellent, has a particularly sharp, smart discussion today at Deadspin about Greg Hardy. The star defensive lineman played his first game for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, after serving a four-game suspension to start the season for a domestic abuse conviction (later vacated) from last year. As Hardy was preparing to return last week, he made a bunch of comments seemingly intended to aggravate and insult as many people as possible. In short, he came across as an unrepentant jerk, at least in the minds of many.

There has been a dramatic change in public discourse about domestic violence and violence against women in the sports world, especially in the wake of the videotaped attack by Ray Rice last year against his now-wife, Janay Palmer Rice. That’s undoubtedly positive, though what impact the shift in publicly expressed sentiments on actual behavior remains to be seen.

But Moskovitz wants to take a step back from what she calls “the easy part” – bashing Greg Hardy for being a dick. Moskovitz notes that she is a lifelong Steelers’ fan. Five years ago, she says, she was prepared to stop rooting for the hometown team after its star quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, faced down a second rape charge in the span of a year. The details are disturbing, though charges were never brought. Moskovitz vowed she was done rooting for the Steelers until they dumped Big Ben. Fast forward five months, when Roethlisberger, already with two Super Bowl rings in his trophy case, had led the Steelers to a third Super Bowl appearance as the team’s starter. Though the Steelers lost SB XLV to the Packers, Moskovitz was safely back in the fold.

We’re all, those of us who are fans of these enterprises, implicated in their moral compromises – our moral compromises. I don’t think that precludes us from engaging in any criticism. But it does require a certain sobriety and humility, until we’re prepared to swear off our fandom once and for all (and it’s fair to ask what purpose that would serve).

Moskovitz also notes that Greg Hardy was the only player on the Carolina Panthers last year to show up for a teammate’s mother’s funeral. In light of this, Moskovitz observed:

“This is what we’re talking about when we talk about domestic violence. Hardy wasn’t born evil, and if somewhere along the line he learned that throwing a woman onto a couch full of guns, strangling her, and threatening to kill her was how you put her in her place, it still doesn’t make him a irredeemable human being, incapable of kindness or good. Nor does it make him unique; millions of people have learned similar behavior. It’s so engrained in our culture that the CDC says one in four women and one in seven men have been the victim of “severe physical violence by an intimate partner.” Between 2003 and 2012, the Bureau of Justice statistic estimates that domestic violence accounted for 21 percent of all violent crime. Most of that domestic violence happened, the same BJS report said, at the hands of current or former boyfriends or girlfriends.

I’ve known people in abusive relations, and the chances are that you have too, or that you’ve been in one. And the abuser was, very likely, the same man or woman who also brought the best potato salad to the neighborhood potluck, or made the biggest donation at church, or always picked up the kids on time from daycare: A normal person, for better and worse in varying measure, who also beats the shit out someone they said they loved.

This why there are no good answers for the NFL, because domestic violence is an everyday part of American lives…”


(in a related vein, a post of mine from last year about the scope of the problem of DV).

I’ll be resuming my unrepentant moralizing forthwith.


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