I have never actually watched a football game. I’ve seen a few minutes here and there, but the idea of big men running into one another never appealed to me. But I understand the economic powerhouse that football is in America, and that many boys all over the country want to grow up and “go pro”.

Michael Sam was “a distraction” because he’s gay. From everything I’ve read, he’s an upstanding guy: bright, talented, and deserving of a spot on a team. From everything I’ve read, a pervasive disease of the NFL is homophobia. The only positive thing I heard about was that if Vince Lombardi was alive, he would have welcomed Michael Sam with open arms, because all he cared about was the game itself. And yet he is on a practice team. I’m not sure that means he can or cannot actually play, but I now have a soft spot in my heart for the Dallas Cowboys.

And then there’s Ray Rice. The NFL was “shocked, shocked I tell you” when they saw the video yesterday. The FULL video. Personally, I didn’t need to see the video to know what had happened because I’ve seen the aftermath of women who interacted with abusers. You get that with patients: they come in for one thing, and you can tell from what kind of bruises they have. Same with certain breaks and sprains on kids: there are telltale signs.

I don’t believe that the NFL didn’t know what happened back in July, if only by inference. I don’t believe the court didn’t know when it charged Janay Palmer with assault on Ray Rice. It was the most blatant case of blaming the victim I’ve ever seen: kabuki theatre to the end of keeping an economic force on the football field. My greatest fear now is for Janay Palmer: where does a man like Ray Rice take his anger now? Is there any doubt that he blames her for his banishment from football? How safe is their child?

There is something morally bankrupt about an organization that says violence is okay, but being gay is a distraction. Really? I really hope someone can explain this to me because I just don’t get it.

Last year, the Republicans in Congress tried to stop the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, because it included gay couples (abuse seems to be devoid of sexual orientation, sadly) and the ability of tribal courts to deal with abuse on reservations. My guess is that a lot of those Republican Congressmen and Senators once played football at some level. Here is a list of those Republican men and women who voted against it. Check the list before you vote in 57 days and THINK.

Will a law stop people from bashing their loved ones around? Not in and of itself, but it’s a start.

As a society, we have no real pull on the NFL. Right now, there are more players who beat their wives and girlfriends, and hopefully the NFL will man up in dealing with them. However, we do have the power of the voting booth, and we can make sure that those men and women who voted in favour of the abuse of women lose their jobs, too.

Vote: it could save your life, or the life of someone you love. Abuse starts with hitting, but too often ends up in murder.