Ray Rice, Stephen A. Smith and the Hypocrisy of Sports

Is the NFL saying that substance abuse is more significant than domestic abuse in the way it metes out punishment?

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Running back Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens addresses a news conference with his wife, Janay, at the Ravens’ training center May 23, 2014, in Owings Mills, Md.  

Rob Carr/Getty Images

We all saw the video. It was clear as day.

We shook our heads as we felt our emotions swirl. There was no hiding it. He did what no man should ever do, no matter the situation.

Yet we took solace in knowing that justice would prevail, the hammer would be heavy, and Ray Rice would pay, and pay dearly, for that blatant, vicious assault on his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, in the elevator of an Atlantic City, N.J., casino this past February. But as is the case with many instances of illegal activities in sports, we forgot about it after the initial outrage and went back to being sports fans, consuming what was needed to satisfy our sports addiction.

Then Solange had her violent outburst in an elevator against Jay Z, and while some found it entertaining, many had flashbacks to Ray Rice; one of them was the Shadow League’s own Ricardo Hazell, who penned this. So we expressed our outrage again and then went upon our way.

We woke up one Saturday morning this past spring to Donald Sterling’s abhorrent comments, and with them the anger, shock and outrage that erupted across the country. America—especially black America—watched to see what the NBA and new Commissioner Adam Silver would do. To be honest, I felt a twinge of doubt, a feeling that this would be another slap on the wrist for a rich white man—which I’m sure was shared by other people of color. I waited for the obligatory PR statement about how embarrassed he was over his views and words, how insensitive his comments were and how he is not a racist because he “has black friends.”

We had heard it so many times before, but we had faith in the NBA. It couldn’t sweep this under the rug; Silver had to come strong. On Tuesday, April 29, he did just that, banning Sterling for life and forcing a sale of the Los Angeles Clippers. Everyone rejoiced. It was a defining moment for sports and culture, and proof that at least one league had the backs of the group that makes up the majority of its primary employees and fan base.

Soon after, we watched the Spurs’ dismantling of the Heat, awaited LeBron’s decision and got swept up in the global excitement of the Beautiful Game. Next, with the NFL preseason upon us, we were ready for some football! However, there were still housekeeping issues to resolve, one of which lingered in Baltimore.

To be honest, I hadn’t even remembered it until the Nerf-constructed hammer wielded by Commissioner Roger Goodell came down, bringing with it the shockingly soft and disappointing punishment last week.

A two-game suspension.

Wait. What? Stop playing.

Read more at the Shadow League.