Yes, Sportswriters, a battered woman today does matter less than a dog
July 28, 2009 by William K. Wolfrum
When Michael Vick was busted for animal cruelty in running a dog-fighting ring, just about everyone was appalled. For many veteran sportswriters, however, the Vick situation became a teaching moment. Why was a man who trained dogs to rip each other apart being so demonized, when bigger issues such as violence against women were being ignored?
“This is in no way meant to diminish Vick’s crime, but it seems fair to wonder why there’s a conspicuous lack of outrage when we hear about athletes torturing women,” wrote Barry Rozner. “And whether a battered woman today matters less than a dog.”
Ironically, now that Vick has served his time and looks to regain his status as an NFL player, there is another story out there that threatens a popular NFL quarterback. But this is a story that has been hidden from the media as much as possible, courtesy of ESPN.
Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been accused of rape in a civil suit. The two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback has strongly denied the allegations.
“Her false and vicious accusations are an attack on my family and on me. I am going to fight to protect my family and my reputation,” said Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger deserves to clear his name and should be considered innocent unless proven guilty. But his accuser has every right to have her story heard, fair or false. ESPN, however, has made the editorial decision to treat this whole incident as if it just didn’t happen.
“At this point, we are not reporting the allegations against Ben Roethlisberger because no criminal complaint has been filed. As far as we know, this is a civil lawsuit that Roethlisberger has yet to address publicly,” announced ESPN.
This is what we in the business call selective ethics. Because ESPN gladly reported civil lawsuits being filed against the likes of Randy Moss. With Roethlisberger – who has worked with ESPN/ABC on a reality show with Shaquille O’Neal – the gloves are on, and his reputation is to be protected.
As for the woman who filed the suit? The reaction to her has been typical of the sports media world. Currently, her name and photos of her have been published, and the typical sports story on the issue focuses on Roethlisberger’s denials and how the suit will affect his career and marketability.
It’s almost assured that we’ll learn more about the incident that took place in Nevada. Or, more information about the incident will come out. Whether you learn about that information is anyone’s guess.
Because despite the righteous posturing of several sportswriters over the Vick affair, the song remains the same. When it comes to male athletes and allegations of sexual abuse, the woman’s side of the story is for the dogs.