Football, Violence, and …Yoga?

Published October 3, 2014 by kokoinsouthafrica

Recent news headlines are smeared with stories of professional athletes being put under the microscope for domestic violence. While no acts of domestic violence are justifiable or permitted, we can progress into a state of understanding and pursue structural change if we evaluate the stages of progression athletes go through from their pre-NFL life to surviving several seasons of animalistic play.

I don’t think anyone is innately bad, and I don’t believe misogyny is an attitude people are born with. These things are developed over time. In particular, football players go through insane amounts of militaristic emotional badgering and abuse. Some pretty obvious parallels exist between the types of ‘training’ the players go through and the violent outbursts they have off the field. I have always believed that football players are objectified. They are turned into inanimate toys to be played around a field until they get too broken to be useful anymore, then they are kicked out of the game. NFL players are not total victims though. They know what they’re doing, they know what they’re getting themselves into, they do it for the money and the fame. But I think there are clear structural gaps in the types of training and support these athletes are getting during and after their careers, and I don’t think domestic violence cases will decrease until we approach the system comprehensively and think about what can we done to target the problem at its source.

Domestic violence cases such as Ray Rice are not isolated; Rice’s is one of dozens of cases that can be found in the NFL. What is it about professional football that makes these guys so agro?! Football is all about carnal instincts. Rage is glorified, anger is encouraged, running full speed and tackling people will win you games. I have to wonder what kind of (if any) emotional management training or psychological support is offered to these players off the field. I doubt players ever find themselves in a state of equanimity.

There is a silver lining to this storm cloud raining on the NFL, some coaches are recognizing the cardinal need for change in the league. After the Seattle Seakhawk’s impressive Super Bowl victory, word spread that Pete Carroll had been mandating yoga classes for his team during training.

*Gasp!* Can it be? Can yoga really help people? Are you saying…  yoga isn’t just for freedom loving hippies anymore!?

An on point article about the positive influences yoga can have on football, and the attempt to remove misogynistic attitudes and domestic violence from the private lives of NFL players. 

I’m not saying yoga is a cure-all. Some people seriously need to seek professional psychiatric help for their emotional problems. But I do firmly believe that introducing some concepts of self reflection, respect for yourself and others, and emotional managment, into the training of NFL players might, just might, help decrease some prevalence of the domestic violence plague that’s running rampant in the league.


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