Free Sport

Football, Guns, and Controversy

Are you ready for some football media gun violence controversy?

Usually, halftime is the boring part of the three to four hours of football programming. The portion of the celebrated spectacle that you can skip, without fear of missing anything important. But not this past Sunday, as longtime (much longer than he looks, that's for sure) sports commentator Bob Costas used his weekly "Football Night in America" halftime spot to address concerns of gun violence in the wake of Saturday's tragic murder-suicide by Kansas City Chief Jovan Belcher.

(Saturday morning, Belcher killed Kasandra Perkins, his 22-year-old girlfriend and the mother of his 3-month-old child, before driving to the Chiefs' practice facility and killing himself in the parking lot, in front of head coach (and former New England Patriots defensive coordinator) Romeo Crennel, and general manager (and former Patriots player personnel director) Scott Pioli. Belcher was 25 years old.)

"In the coming days, Jovan Belcher's actions and their possible connection to football will be analyzed," Costas said. "Who knows? But here, wrote Jason Whitlock, is what I believe. If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today."

Not surprisingly, the comments by Costas have sparked an ongoing debate over issues of gun control and the Second Ammendment, and also the decision by Costas to use his nationally-televised halftime spot to speak to the issue of gun control vs. gun rights.

(For more on this controversy, you can scroll through the 116 million hits by searching "Bob Costas gun control" here.)

(To read the Jason Whitlock column that Costas references, click here.)

But not all have been content to examine the aftermath of the Belcher incident from a gun issue perspective. Some have commented that the tragedy is another in a long line of incidents that speaks more to the nature of violence in our society, and football's role within that dynamic.

"While Mr. Whitlock focuses on gun control as a preventative measure, he fails to discuss the most important factor of gender and the issue of men's violence against women," Sport in Society, an organization based out of Northeastern University that aims to create "a just world through the power of sport" said on their Facebook page. "According to the National Institute of Justice, "Intimate partner homicides make up 40–50 percent of all murders of women in the United States. In 70–80 percent of intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, the man physically abused the woman before the murder.""

"There is so much we don’t know about why Jovan Belcher did what he did," Dave Zirin writes at The Nation. "There are things we do know, however. We know that this is the NFL’s fourth suicide involving current and former players in the last year. We know that violence against women and alienation from loving relationships is a proven product of playing this violent game. We also know that concussions and head injuries have been linked to domestic violence, mental illness, and suicide."

And we can also, unfortunately, likewise be sure that this is not the last time we will have occasion to examine such issues.

© 2014 The Valley Advocate