Life After Football . . . ?
The Calgary and Edmonton media have focused almost singularly on the “poor Joffrey Reynolds” angle after the Stamps star was charged with break and entry, assault causing bodily harm of an ex-girlfriend, and later being caught by Canada Border Services Agency without a work visa. There’s been far too little coverage of the impact on his ex-girlfriend or the wider context of violence against women.
In a “Life after Football” radio interview, Reynolds was cited as a “sad example” of a professional athlete “struggling” to make the transition to retirement, and “knowing only how to hit someone in the mouth.” Newspapers cited police reports that the ex-girlfriend’s physical impacts were “minor” without referring to the mental impact of a break-in and assault. Guests from the party Reynolds attended just before the assault said he appeared “normal . . . not causing any trouble.” Reynolds was even seen as “Fall[ing] from Grace.” Was he a football star or a spiritual trail-blazer?
While the media and society are making headway in acknowledging that violence in sports, and the silence around what these players and coaches do behind closed doors is unacceptable, is it acceptable for them to take a forgiving stance of the violator? Isn’t that for the ex-girlfriend to decide? Case Managers at Discovery House who work with women leaving domestic violence say that forgiving the abuser can, in some cases, help the women move on with their lives. More often than not though, it’s all they can do to stop the horrific memories, pervasive fear and sleepless nights—particularly if it’s been a break and entry.
We need the media to draw more attention to the fact that of the 16,500 domestic violence calls that Calgary police received in 2011, 85% were from women in relation to a man assaulting or abusing her. We need to hear more about what the non-profit, public and private sectors are doing about it. We need to hear less about what a 33-year-old football star is to do in his retirement.