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Rice debacle further proof NFL ethically worse than bullfighting

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Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice is likely never to play another game in the NFL after footage emerged of his assault on his wife. Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice is likely never to play another game in the NFL after footage emerged of his assault on his wife. Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice is likely never to play another game in the NFL after footage emerged of his assault on his wife. Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

I talked to my brother on the phone from Washington on Monday night. Before we hung up, he brought up Ray Rice.

"When people look back on our society in 100 years, they're going to look at the NFL and say that this was the scourge of our civilisation," he said.

It's getting harder to debate the point with him. Hours earlier, Rice, a running back with the Baltimore Ravens, had had his contract terminated after disturbing surveillance footage of him knocking his then-fianceƩ, now wife, Janay unconscious with his fist surfaced on celeb muckraking website TMZ.

By 'our' civilisation, my brother meant America's, but the NFL is an increasingly global game, and anyone who enjoys watching American football must be aware they are diving deep into a fetid moral swamp.

Ethically, this sport is worse than bullfighting. I've known that for a while, and still I watch. I probably like it more than I ever did, in fact.

But I'm beginning to actually wonder if the sport will exist in 50 years' time. Whatever the reasons are, many of the men who play American football at a professional level do terrible things, at a rate utterly out of proportion of all other sports, and most other professions.

Take the Rice story and the disturbing trend of violence against women amongst NFL players.

According to the website FiveThirtyEight, the rate of arrest for domestic violence is 55pc higher among NFL players than the American average.

The NFL's handling of the Rice incident - suspending him originally for two games before the video surfaced this week - proved that, at an institutional level, the NFL didn't take domestic violence seriously, at least until the public opprobrium became too loud to ignore.

Rice's case is unique because it was caught on camera. He's likely never to play another game in the NFL.

It's a just form of punishment, but there is a bigger problem: the sport itself and what it does to those who play it.

Irish Independent