Last month, MMA (mixed martial arts)'s largest, most lucrative, and most powerful league ran into an all-too-familiar problem. Even though UFC has made plenty of progress recently in welcoming women MMA fighters, it's still facing tough questions over War Machine and other former UFC fighters who have run into legal trouble over domestic violence.
Now to the credit of both UFC and Bellator MMA, both MMA leagues were fast to condemn War Machine. Even as some of his fans continue to rally behind him on social media, Bellator cut War Machine from its roster weeks before he was formally indicted here in Nevada for attempted murder, first degree kidnapping, sexual assault, and a host of other charges related to the violent attack on Christy Mack and Corey Thomas.
While there are legitimate questions on whether the powers that be in MMA are taking domestic violence seriously enough, it's increasingly looking like they're at least taking steps to address this problem. It's harder to say this about the NFL.
Initially, the NFL merely gave Baltimore Ravens runningback Ray Rice a two game suspension after pleading guilty in New Jersey to assault. A leaked elevator tape shows the full account of Ray Rice punching his then fiancee (now wife), Janay Rice, and knocking her to the ground. Even as he left the elevator, Ray Rice left Janay on the floor as her feet were on the elevator door track.
When the video was finally released to the public, Fox "News" enjoyed some "elevator humor"... While the rest of America was disgusted beyond belief.
How could this happen? And why did Ray Rice (at least initially) get away with a crime just as heinous as the one War Machine is now on trial for? Oh, and if UFC & Bellator are now coming to terms with this problem within their ranks, why can't the NFL?
We are now approaching the 20th anniversary of Congress' original passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This is why we can't help but remember the "TEA" fueled Heritage Action's campaign to kill VAWA that came dangerously close to succeeding last year. This is why we continue to sound the alarms on the "mainstream-ization" of language, attitudes, and even actions that were previously thought to be relegated to the deepest and darkest corners of the "manosphere". And this is why we can't ignore this horrific failure of the NFL.
While a number of media pundits are bloviating over Ray Rice's future in professional football and speculating over why Janay Rice is still standing behind him, we'd rather focus on the more important issue behind this tragedy. Why is it still so damned difficult for so many to take domestic violence seriously? And how many more people must be hurt before we take further action?
Is "good football" truly worth more than women's lives?