Healing Gaia

Breaking the Link Between Sports Events and Domestic Violence

Super Bowl Sunday was a weekend of heightened vigilance for many women and children.

By Doreen Nicoll
Published February 09, 2015

I never wanted to be a cheerleader. I always wanted to be on the field or court, playing my heart out.

I signed up for every sport going while I was in school - not because I was particularly good at sports, but because participating made me feel great! My favourite sport was basketball, and believe me: that's a challenge when you're only five feet tall.

The sport I disliked most was boxing. I couldn't bring myself to hit my opponent.

When I started working and having children, sports evolved into yoga and exercise classes with the occasional run on the side. I also walk - a lot.

I can honestly say that I don't understand this obsession with sitting and watching sports on a screen. The fact that I haven't had cable or satellite in my home for the past eighteen years might factor into this.

But I do understand the excitement that fans feel when their team wins, especially when that win is over an old adversary.

Last weekend was Super Bowl Sunday. The New England Patriots beat the Seattle Sea Hawks 28 to 24, bringing to a close the National Football League's 2014 season. It was a great night to stay inside and watch the game, especially once that blizzard hit.

It was also a weekend of heightened vigilance for many women and children. Studies in the US have shown that domestic assaults increase when semi-finals, playoffs and championship games take place.

If a favoured team loses, the incidents of gender violence increases - especially when the loss is to an arch-rival. Calls to police become more frequent during the last hour of a tense game and continue for another two hours after the game ends.

The Scots have noted similar escalations of domestic assaults when the Rangers and Celtic play their own brand of football.

I'm going out on a bit of a limb here, but I'm betting that other male-dominated sports like hockey create similar spikes in gendered violence during and after important games.

To its credit, the National Football League included some very thought provoking-commercials among the usual stream of misogynous advertisements that sexualize, objectify and dehumanize women. I'm sharing three commercials that can be used to facilitate the conversations that we need to have around the role of men play in sports as well as society.

NOMORE.org is bringing together people, organizations and communities from across the US in an effort to end domestic violence and sexual assault. This group created a public service announcement (PSA) for the Super Bowl based on a real incident.

This PSA teaches all of us that to hear what someone is saying we need to be quiet and really listen to what is being said. In the case of gendered violence we then need to say I believe you and we will find a way to get help.

Always, a division of Proctor and Gamble that sells feminine hygiene products, created a wonderfully empowering commercial called Like a Girl. This delightful advertisement is a real self-esteem booster.

In its Real Strength Dove, a division of Unilever, shows us what it really takes to make a man strong.

Doreen Nicoll is a feminist and a member of several community organizations working diligently to end poverty, hunger and gendered violence.


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By ItJustIs (registered) | Posted February 09, 2015 at 11:00:21

Unfortunately, in many professional sports, there is an inherent 'warrior' mindset. (As opposed to a 'knightly', where chivalry ruled the day.) One infused with rage, fueled by testosterone, silently supported by a patriarchal culture.

Increased public dialogue is a major factor in changing this from the bottom up.

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By Selway (registered) | Posted February 09, 2015 at 22:12:14

As a side-bar, there is a terrific Quebec cycling film titled La Petite Reine, which came out last year. It is based (loosely, I hope) on the career of Genevieve Jeanson. Back in 2003 when Hamilton hosted the world road racing championship, Jeanson was set to participate but flunked a doping test two weeks before the race and had to bow out.

In the film (available subtitled from HPL) Julie Arseneau (Laurence Lebouef) and her coach (Patrice Robitaille) play an agonizing game of cat and mouse with the cycling authorities during the run up to the final race of the season. This movie grabs you in the opening scene and just never lets go. The relationship between Julie and her coach is astoundingly abusive and the pressure on the racer to go on doping and lying about it becomes more and more intense. What is most interesting though is the response of everyone around her, who know but don't want to know what is going on. Near the end she tries to get support from her parents in a scene that is heartbreaking and infuriating in equal parts. This is a sports film where you desperately want the heroine to lose the Big Race so she can get off the hellish merry go-round. She does win through in the end but it's a very wild ride.

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By MissingPartOfTheStory (registered) | Posted February 09, 2015 at 23:33:24

Domestic violence is disgusting, but meaningful links between major sports events and domestic violence have long since been discredited: http://www.snopes.com/crime/statistics/s...

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By Selway (registered) | Posted February 10, 2015 at 23:05:06 in reply to Comment 108940

Please RTFA, as they say on sites less genteel than this one. And check the links. And take note of the author's qualification:

I'm going out on a bit of a limb here, but I'm betting that other male-dominated sports like hockey create similar spikes in gendered violence during and after important games.

For the rest, again, look at the links. The information in them has nothing to do with the item debunked at Snopes.

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