To the Editor,
Jimmy Kelley’s column in the December 6 Student was extremely disturbing. The notion that a football game can ease the pain of losing someone to murder or suicide is appalling. Kelley wrote: “while we shouldn’t ignore what happened on Saturday, the events that took place on Sunday are much more important.”
A football game is never more important than a murder or a suicide.
Not once did Kelley mention the name of the murder victim, and in fact he seemed more concerned with the “troubled man” who killed her, and even more concerned with the football team of which this “troubled man” was a member. Those people (daughter, parents, other family members) most directly affected by Jovan Belcher’s actions don’t have the privilege to “take their mind off” their troubles by watching a game. Even those of us more distanced from this situation would show great callousness and insensitivity in using sports as a “distraction.”
We do need a dialogue in this country about mental illness and gun violence. This column was a squandered opportunity for that dialogue, instead focusing on how everything’s “okay” because a team won a game. We also need dialogue about the increasingly recognized dangers of playing sports, resulting in lost cognitive function and mental health issues.
We join many who believe this game should not have been played at all. The decision to carry on was based on revenue, not compassion. The NFL is driven by financial concerns, not human concerns. The call to address the issue of domestic violence in the NFL is long overdue. However, “dedicating” the game to victims of domestic violence is a completely inadequate response. Using sports spectatorship is no way to address the root causes of the violence. Watching sports is in no way a remedy for the multiple layers of violence and oppression involved in this situation. A focus on reflection and contemplation about this situation and its causes and effects is a more appropriate response.
Attention to the issues mentioned above (domestic violence, mental illness, gun availability) would be much more becoming in a column for our college newspaper. We are appalled at the editorial decision to run such a one-sided and insufficiently informed depiction of these tragic events.
Sports are a pastime. Sports are games. They have taken on an inflated sense of importance in our society, largely due to the money that drives professional leagues like the NFL. The editorial staff and the writer should recognize that harm was done (whether intended or not) and take responsibility for it by learning about intimate partner violence and its causes and effects, and using their platform as communicators to engage more thoughtfully about these issues. In the future, we would like to see responsible journalism in our college paper that addresses these underlying issues, rather than putting forth the disturbing idea that sports can somehow ease the pain of a tragic murder/suicide.
Alice Knox Eaton
The signatories to this letter are all faculty members at Springfield College.