Football is a contact sport, but only on the field


For several years I have been delivering a presentation on The Effects of Domestic Violence on Children to teachers across Alberta. We know that for most children, families are a source of learning and love. All too often, however, intimate partner violence can disrupt this family refuge. Children’s exposure to domestic violence is much more common than generally believed. The potential consequences of abuse or exposure to violence as a child are also becoming increasingly evident. Children exposed to domestic violence are more likely to suffer from biological, social, emotional and/or cognitive development problems than those who are not. In this session, I help teachers recognize the signs of vicarious trauma and give them information on supports available.

In the presentation, I show two commercials created by the NFL that played during Superbowl 2015 and 2016. These ads were a result of the NFL trying to mitigate damage that their brand had suffered due to their lackluster response to several high profile cases of domestic violence involving their players. While the ads are very effective, the rest of league’s response remained tepid.

During that presentation, I also made comments on our own CFL’s lack of concerted effort in this area and congratulated the Edmonton Eskimos for their support of the Edmonton Women’s Shelter. And, I spoke in a rather denigrating manner about my own team’s lack of focus on issues of domestic violence.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have suffered through 2 seasons of abysmal football, new coaches, favorite players traded, lack of success on the field…a litany of bad decisions on and off the field. We have a coach who seems to care only about winning, and some of his decisions seemed to fly in the face of the community spirit of our team.

That all changed yesterday. I was shocked to read that the Riders had released yet another amazingly talented player. I thought, here we go again, another bad decision by our coach. Then I read further. The statement is short on details due to legal issues, but he was released because he was involved in an incident of domestic violence. The team also contacted local police and support and counselling organizations for the family. The CFL then announced that should any other team try to sign him, the league will not register that contract, which means he won’t play anywhere in the CFL. In the words of the CFL commissioner, “the CFL condemns violence against women in all of its forms, including domestic violence, sexual violence, sexual assault, and verbal abuse, as well as the disrespectful and demeaning attitudes that foster violence or the tolerance of such violence.”

I am saddened to think of the pain, suffering and upheaval facing this family. However, I am so proud that my team put family first. Taking the high road is not easy, but it is always the best road.

Author Profile

Shelley Magnusson

Shelley Magnusson

The Alberta Teachers' Association

3 stories


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