Ray Rice and Domestic Abuse: A Rumpus Roundup


In February, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocked out his fiancée at Atlantic City’s Revel Casino. He was caught dragging her limp body out of the elevator. They later married.

Domestic violence is so common in the United States—every 9 seconds a woman is assaulted—it rarely makes headlines. But Ray Rice plays football.

Rice pled guilty and entered a pre-trial intervention program. If that wasn’t enough “justice,” the NFL has just suspended Rice from play for two entire games. He’ll even miss the team’s season opener. The league also fined him nearly $530,000—but in case you’re worried the NFL is taking food from his child’s mouth, that’s only the equivalent of three games’ paychecks.

Football players’ brain injuries—even those not linked to concussions—can lead to serious problems with emotion and impulse control. California has even gone as far as limiting contact in football practices, launching the beginning of the end of modern football.

Ray Rice’s absurdly inconsequential punishment is not end of the story. Nor is traumatic brain injury, the associated suicides, or this class-action suit brought by players against the NFL. The story continues with a football culture that embodies “an ideal of hyper-masculinity that is inherently violent and impulsive.”

And then this morning, Stephen A. Smith began victim blaming on the sports talk show First Take warning against provoking men. Shortly after, female sportscaster and ESPN anchor Michelle Beadle rebuked Smith for his ignorant comments.

Smith is currently being considered for a trustee position at a charter school in Harlem. Rice will be eligible to return to the field on September 12, after serving his 2-game suspension.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →