Just this week the 19th annual Detroit Lions Courage House dinner was held at Ford Field. . In attendance were dozens of Detroit Lion’s player and alumni players as well as members of the coaching staff, trainers and front office as well. Keynote speaker was NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. It was a night of celebration with about 450 in the atrium to recognize players and others who exhibit courage on and off the field.
As one of the evening’s speakers, I used the opportunity to illustrate the prevalence of domestic and sexual violence by pointing out that the number of victims from Michigan in one year alone would overflow both Ford Field and The Palace of Auburn Hills combined. According to the Michigan State Police there were over 95,000 victims, adults and children, in the state in 2011. I also shared that during 2011, there were 101 domestic violence related homicides in the state, nearly double that of the number of players on an NFL team of 53. After the program, I had many people tell me “wow”, they were startled by the statistics while staring out at the 65,000 Ford Field seats.
And then just a few minutes ago, while doing a quick online check of the day’s headlines, I read about Kansas City Chief’s player Jovan Belcher
Belcher murdered his girlfriend this morning and then committed suicide. Proving once again that domestic violence impacts all of us – educated, employed, wealthy, idolized – yes, even NFL football players. Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of Kasandra Perkins and to the Kansas City Chief organization.
As fans fill stands this weekend in stadiums large and small, I hope some will pause and think about how victims from around the country can fill each and every one of these stadiums over and over again. And that unless each and every one of us commit us to stopping the violence, the killings will continue.
What’s my definition of courage? Speaking up and taking action for those without a voice. Are you ready to exhibit some courage?