How Football Forced Major League Baseball To Wake Up On Domestic Violence

 Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez, a spokesperson for the team’s domestic violence prevention efforts, meets with youth baseball players at Safeco Field. (Ben Van Houten/Seattle Mariners)

Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez, a spokesperson for the team’s domestic violence prevention efforts, meets with youth baseball players at Safeco Field. (Ben Van Houten/Seattle Mariners)

Kiley Kroh recently wrote an article "How Football Forced Major League Baseball To Wake Up On Domestic Violence" on Thinkprogress.org.  

The reverberations from the gruesome surveillance footage that surfaced last summer of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his fiance unconscious and dragging her out of an elevator were felt far beyond football. While it was certainly not the first time a professional athlete committed an act of violence against a woman, the Rice incident was arguably the most visible, and it forced other leagues to take stock of their own records on the issue.
“I’ll admit, we weren’t on this issue before,” said Dan Halem, chief labor officer for Major League Baseball. “We were heavily focused on inclusion … sexual orientation issue, but the whole domestic violence issue we haven’t focused on and I’m not going to tell you otherwise.”
That’s not to say baseball was blissfully free and unaware of any instance of domestic violence before the Rice video made national headlines and the NFL botched its response. According to some critics, baseball had been even more lax in its approach. Numerous major leaguers over the years have been accused of or charged with domestic violence; in the last quarter-century, however, none has been punished on the league level. Few have by their individual teams. So if the Rice incident exposed the NFL’s glaring lack of a comprehensive strategy for addressing issues like domestic violence, MLB officials say it served as a similar wake-up call for them.
Unlike the NFL, baseball wasn’t forced to enter crisis mode last summer and instead wanted “to address it in a way that is authentic, would be lasting and make sense, rather than being reactive,” Halem said. As a result, baseball has emerged as a point of comparison with the NFL, whose policies both before and after the Rice incident have been roundly criticized. Joined by the sport’s union, the Major League Baseball Players Association, and alongside a reputable domestic violence organization, baseball is putting the first pieces in place for what it says will be a “multi-year plan to attempt to change the culture vis-a-vis players and frankly, everybody else in baseball.”

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