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Can I Be a Female NFL Fan?

I’m at a crossroads with the NFL. ::waves to everyone else who is here or has been here::

I’m a woman.

I get steamed when I dwell on the fact that my husband could be doing my job for roughly 30 cents more per hour than I make because of his anatomy. I want politicians to drop their battle to legislate my choices about my body when, if they had to experience a menstrual cycle, they’d quickly mobilize to rectify anything necessary for their appeasement. I am frightened daily for my daughter who has a 1-in-5 chance of being sexually assaulted in her lifetime.

So yeah, I’m incensed that when it comes to abusing a woman, figures of prominence – specifically ones who bring mighty income into certain pockets – get a proverbial slap on the wrist. This last week the NFL “endured” (go ahead and take a moment to fume over that word choice) one of the worst weeks in its history with report after report of yet another player charged with violence.

For example, thanks to the NFL’s policy of punishment for certain offenses, Ray Rice initially received an irrelevant two-game suspension for knocking his fiance out in an elevator. It wasn’t until the video was released by TMZ that backpedaling began to reassure fans and the general public that the NFL began to back itself – and its commissioner Roger Goodell – into a corner of revamping punishments and appeasing the masses.

I’m a football fan.

This is where my roads cross. I really dig watching pro-football. I’ve watched it over the years with friends, cheering on our team, reacting to calls and plays – all the things that make watching football socially fun. Do I get into the finer details of plays and strategy? Nope. I leave that to my husband.

Which is another point with which I struggle. Watching football is something my husband and I do together. He chuckles at my quips about the awful NFL commentators; I react in awe to his uncanny ability to assess flagged calls aloud before the commentators can. We cheer on our team together and converse about it throughout the week as we hear updates and speculate on results.

An additional disclaimer to this is that I in no way am or have ever been abused by my husband or any other figure in my life. I enjoy an existence which is thankfully free from that level of degradation and harm. I know that is not a truth for millions of women across the globe. Therein lies my crossroads.

I’m a voice.

I need to decide what to do with this conflict. Many options are before me:

  • Do I stop watching football altogether because thus far it has prioritized money over humanity?
  • Do I abstain from involvement with fantasy football leagues to indicate my displeasure?
  • Do I continue to watch football games to selectively cheer on players or teams who haven’t compromised my beliefs as a woman in this society?
  • Do I up the stakes of my digital voice to keep the conversation about player violence alive after the hoopla assuredly dies down?
  • Do I keep reaffirming for my kids that abusing another human being can be glossed over based on certain circumstances/

These are just a few things to consider; there are certainly more. I don’t write this to get sympathy, since I deserve none. This is hardly as difficult of a crossroads as women encounter when they must face their abuser daily – even hourly – in full-on survival mode. Which is probably the most important consideration I can assess as I decide what to do.