Problems Change, The Solution Doesn't

Last week was the worst week in NFL history. Multiple stories of domestic violence involving high profile players and a response from the league and its teams that sparked outrage nationwide.

It wasn't just the main story on SportsCenter either. It led every network evening news program in America along with the President's plan to eradicate ISIS. Let that soak in for a second.

The outrage was certainly warranted. The way the NFL, and specifically Roger Goodell, handled the Ray Rice case was improper at every turn. It would be comical if it wasn't so tragic. Anything they could have done wrong, they did, and it's not done yet as Rice is appealing his rash, indefinite suspension.

It's an appeal Rice has a great chance to win. He was punished twice for the same crime by the league and the second didn't fall in line with a policy Goodell had announced less than a week earlier. That means the two most high profile suspensions of the Goodell era will have been overturned (along with the Saints players in "Bountygate"). For a commissioner who many think is inept and incapable of doing the job, this is merely piling on.

However there is outrage in other places that, while completely understandable, isn't helping anything.

Do you want to be mad or do you want to be a part of the solution?

If you want to be mad, just go back to Twitter. There's plenty of mad to go around. If you'd like to be a part of the solution, keep reading.

This thought trail came to me for the first time when I saw tweets from Pacers forward Paul George which in short stated that if Janay Rice stayed with her now husband, who was he to judge? Immediately he was met with the wrath of people who were understandably angry with such a simple view of an anything but simple situation.

What George clearly didn't know is that many who are abused stay with their abusers. Many have made that leap insisting Ray Rice is that despite everyone involved says this was a one time horrible moment. I find that rather irresponsible, however those statistics are very, very real and could not be more relevant in pointing out the problem with George's sentiment.

So what's the better angle? To blast George for being an idiot, or realizing that he's uneducated like so many others when it comes to domestic violence and being part of the solution? Give me the latter.

A tweet is one thing. Beating a child is another.

The preceding two sentences combine to make perhaps the most obvious point in the history of mankind. With that said, the concept of what I said about George oddly applies to the Adrian Peterson case.

Every reasonable person agrees Peterson went too far, even if you believe in corporal punishment. The force was excessive. The aim was reckless. And the child was four years old. The details are nauseating.

So is the fact that Peterson didn't think that he did anything wrong. The solution here needs to be education, on top of whatever the legal system determines for Peterson. They don't have to be and shouldn't be mutually exclusive.

There are mounds of research pointing that corporal punishment causes long term problems for children. Sure it might teach short-term discipline, but the long-term problems are not worth the short-term reward and there are certainly other ways to achieve those goals.

When Charles Barkley went on CBS and stated that every black (and many white) parents in the south would be in jail if "whooping" their kids were illegal, he's not kidding and I would guarantee you that damn near all of those parents are unaware of the research referenced above. It's just how they were brought up. They think they turned out alright. It's how they learned how to parent from their parents and now that's how they're bringing up their child.

It takes education to break the cycle. Cris Carter spoke passionately about it this morning on Sunday NFL Countdown. He said on national television his mother was wrong. That's change. That's what's needed. We need more of it.

It is why I struggle with what I think of Peterson and even to an extent Ray Rice. I know I'm sick about what they did and I know I'll never look at either man the same way. But what's next?

If Peterson (after being punished fully and fairly by the legal system) learns from his mistake and speaks in his hometown communities about the dangers of corporal punishment and the benefit of disciplining a better way isn't that a good thing?

If Rice's incident was really a one-time, alcohol-fueled moment of rage and he becomes fully educated on domestic violence and prevents others from making the mistake he did, isn't that a good thing? Shouldn't we want good things?

The alternative is neutral or negative. If neutral, nothing changes. If negative, Rice, Peterson and others repeat their offenses and we can all agree that's worst case scenario.

Being mad is okay. It's natural. Quite frankly if you can read these stories and not be irate you don't have a soul, which is why Goodell's initial reaction was disturbing. However, eventually the anger has to turn into something.

When Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, and then turned the gun on himself, we were shocked and horrified and largely did nothing. This time let's not repeat our mistake.

The only way to break cycles is education. This is a responsibility of many. It's on the league to provide education to its players. It's on the media to uncover problems with the goal of helping to fix them, not just exposing those involved. The discussions need to advance beyond "he's an awful person who did an awful thing."

Last but not least it's on the players. One of the most valuable skills a person can have in life is to understand what he or she doesn't know. Take some personal responsibility. As situations with your colleagues come up, do some homework. There's a reason they're in hot water.

Anger is a natural reaction to things we don't like. It's often warranted. It's useless unless harnessed and focused positively. In short, that's the lesson here. For everybody.