Sportswriters, announcers still don't understand they are part of the process

When the Michael Vick / dog fighting / NFL story was in full bloom, sports writers quickly jumped on a concept - why would a story about injuring dogs create such a sensation, while the ongoing problem of domestic abuse among NFL players barely cause a ripple?

"Why is it, then, that we barely shrug when we hear of athletes beating up their wives, girlfriends or acquaintances?" wrote John Sleeper of the Everett, Wash., Herald

"For the life of me, I can't understand why the public outrage surrounding Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick doesn't extend to other pro athletes and entertainers who would rather hurt people than dogs," wrote Errol Louis of the N.Y. Daily News.

Others wrote and spoke about this phenomenon as well, all with the same wide-eyed naivety - How is it possible that a dog abuser gets so much media attention while a spouse abuser is barely noticed?

The answer was as simple then as it is now - it's because the journalists that should be telling the public about those spousal abusers aren't doing their job.

Case in point was last night's Sunday Night Football match-up between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals. As the game progressed, much was being made about the inability of Steelers' running back Willie Parker to hold onto the ball in the wet conditions. Much was also made of the fact that the Steelers really had no one to back up Parker.

Not much was made of the fact that Parker's backup, Najeh Davenport, who was somewhat mysteriously held out due to a minor injury, may be a liability for the Steelers and the NFL, as he awaits a February trial for domestic violence, child endangering and unlawful restraint in an incident involving the mother of his five year old son.

Oh, the announcers mentioned Davenport briefly, but mostly just to note that he was unavailable for action. And few, if any, big-time columnists noted Davenport's October arrest.

Davenport - who goes by the ever-so-witty nickname of "Dookie" for being arrested in college for breaking into a girl's home and defecating on her laundry - will likely stay with the Steelers through the season or not, as the Steelers need him on the field, and the NFL and the team are apparently unconcerned about his recent arrest.

And it's hard to keep up with Davenport's case, actually, as so few are writing about him at all, outside of his potential as a fantasy football player.

So while Michael Vick and O.J. Simpson help sportswriters fill millions of column inches in paper, web sites and magazines, try to remember Najeh Davenport and others like him.

Because while sportswriters have no problems avoiding the domestic abuse problem so prevalent in the sports' world, they will at least occasionally wonder why their readers don't get more worked up about them.

--WKW

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