Sexual violence is a huge problem in today’s society. One in three women have been a victim of domestic violence and one in six women have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. This epidemic has been sweeping the entire world, but has become prevalent specifically in the world of sports. Admirers constantly watch and talk about athletes. In addition, it has become easier than ever to spread information through social media, bringing athletes’ actions into the eye of the public. Major League Baseball, especially, has many players who have committed domestic violence and sexual assault. Although baseball put its first anti-sexual violence policy into place two years ago, they have not done enough to put an end to the abuse.
Rob Manfred, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, believes that the joint domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse policy put into place two years ago is acceptable. At a press conference in 2015, he said, "We felt good about the policy when we negotiated it," and that the "key" to this new policy is "being proactive." While the Commissioner and the Players Association may accept this policy, it is inadequate at best. Under the current sexual violence policy, Manfred arbitrarily decides the length of the suspension and the number of counseling sessions the player and his partner are required to attend. There have been five players investigated for domestic violence and four of them have been suspended, but none of the suspensions have adequately been appropriated. In the 2015 offseason, Aroldis Chapman, six foot four, 212-pound superstar closer for the New York Yankees, was arrested for allegedly choking his girlfriend and firing eight gunshots while she hid behind a bush. She is only likely a third of his size and was defenseless. Chapman was only suspended for the first thirty games of the season. While players get suspended eighty games for their first failed performance enhancing drug test and are suspended for life if they gamble, players who abuse their defenseless "loved ones" are only suspended for, on average, 27 percent of the season. These men inflict horrific pain and strike fear and terror into the people who trust and care about them the most, effectively ruining these women’s lives forever.
Additionally, children and adults alike view athletes as role models. When fans see their heroes abusing others, they think it is acceptable to do the same. When Aroldis Chapman came out of the bullpen for the first game after his suspension, Yankee Stadium was buzzing with glee. His name was in flames on the scoreboard, people held up signs of support, and some even had the audacity to joke about his suspension. On MLB’s Twitter and Instagram, they frequently promote Chapman. By promoting players like Chapman, MLB is showing that if someone is able to throw over 100 mph, his actions off the field do not matter. However, actions DO matter. Domestic violence and sexual assault are the most painful and humiliating experience of a person’s life, and Major League Baseball is barely doing anything to help these victims. Rob Manfred is constantly trying to find ways to increase baseball’s fan base. Major League Baseball has the lowest percentage of female viewers, at 30 percent. If they want a way to increase their viewership, they need to target women. As a woman, my absolute favorite thing in the world is baseball. It is an escape from reality and makes me feel like a little child again. As happy as it makes me, when I watch games and see the abusive men who are celebrated and make millions of dollars each year, I am extremely disgusted and disappointed. Major League Baseball needs to wake up and realize they are alienating half of the world’s population. If baseball wants to increase its fan base, it needs to find a way to make all of their viewers feel comfortable.
For both men and women’s sake, the policy needs to be changed. Major League Baseball must give harsh and swift penalties to players who have committed sexual violence. These players must be suspended for a longer time with mandatory and consistent counseling. Those who have committed these heinous crimes deserve to be punished. Major League Baseball needs to show fans they are progressive and truly care about every person’s safety and comfort. By increasing the punishment and adding new components to the policy, they will be able to decrease the number of assaults.