Congratulations to the CFL, which announced Thursday that all its athletes and employees will undergo yearly mandatory training on violence against women. **insert clap emoji**
The training is part of a larger policy on violence against women that was developed in partnership with the Ending Violence Association of Canada. It focuses on acknowledging that violence against women is happening across the country and that “men in businesses” (read also: professional male athletes) have a responsibility in preventing sexual and domestic violence.
While this news shouldn’t be celebrated as revolutionary, it is important to recognize that the CFL is proactively implementing an organization-wide strategy to curb domestic violence, even if they are doing so primarily to avoid the controversies that have plagued the NFL in recent (and not so recent) years.
The two-game suspension of Ray Rice for beating his future wife in a casino elevator on camera just over a year ago—by the way, Tom Brady was suspended for twice as many games because some footballs lost a little air pressure— caused major outrage from the public. Following the backlash, NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell announced a new domestic violence policy and pledged to “make change” with how the league approached domestic violence that didn’t really include concrete plans so much as hiring consultants and partnering with organizations to feign the appearance of raising awareness.
As an example, the NFL bought ad time during this year’s Superbowl to air an anti-domestic violence PSA from organization No More— which left a lot of people wondering, great, but is that it?
You may remember it as: The most depressing part of the Superbowl
Like the CFL, the NFL has also instituted domestic violence training for athletes and personnel, though it doesn’t appear to be mandatory.
And while it’s easy to point out flaws in the behemoth that is the NFL, the CFL isn’t without domestic violence controversies of its own. As recently as last November, four (known) CFL players were dealing with allegations of domestic abuse while continuing to play in games. And in 2013, former Calgary Stampeder Joffrey Reynolds was convicted of assault after breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s house and choking her. He was not playing in the CFL when he was found guilty.
How effective this training is for the CFL – and how it guides how the organization reacts to future incidents of domestic violence –remains to be seen. But it’s up to us, and more importantly, fans and paying customers of the CFL, to follow these types of initiatives closely; to ensure that they are receiving a genuine effort and achieving the desired result