The NFL recently announced on Tuesday that they intend to offer $10 million in funding over the course of the next five years to a coalition of organizations under the banner name Raliance whose agenda it is to end sexual violence, which is certainly a topic that the league has not been untouched by.
Part of the Raliance group is the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, which is an organization that was originally in contact with the NFL in the wake of the Ray Rice scandal a couple of years ago, when the league suspended him just two games for striking his fiancée and knocking her unconscious in an elevator. When video of the incident surfaced, there was public outrage that fueled the league to take a harder stance.
The Greg Hardy situation was another highly negative public relations event for the league in recent years, and a number of players of varying levels of notoriety, including incoming draft picks, have been accused of domestic violence charges of varying degrees, which makes it clear that this is an issue that the league itself has an interest in getting under control—hence their involvement with Raliance.
The NFL’s funding will begin today, in fact, with $50,000 being earmarked for 27 separate grants to be awarded to organizations all around the country, and even one in Guam. It’s not clear where things will go from there, but clearly there is a substantial financial cache left over. If they average spending $2 million per year, then they could still fund programs for another $1.95 million this year alone.
I wrote back in September of 2014 that the league was “choosing to throw women at public relations concerns” when they hired Anna Isaacson, then-Vice President of Community Affairs and Philanthropy, to the role of Vice President of Social Responsibility, and, at the time, in light of the current climate, it did indeed seem like a token gesture.
Less than two years later, however, there is at least tangible, positive progress in a manner that doesn’t even matter if it is a token gesture or not, because it is contributing very much needed real funding to groups all around the country both on the national and local level that seek to address the issues of sexual and domestic violence.
On Monday, Isaacson said that Raliance “really believes they can end sexual violence in a generation and they’ve convinced the NFL that they can do it, and that’s really huge and exciting and something that we’re going to be watching closely and following for many years”. Certainly a lofty, but likely unachievable agenda, to end sexual violence.
Isaacson stressed the league’s role in being “a collaborative partner, and not just someone who writes a check and walks away. We wanted to be a partner that is interested in talking through these issues and seeing where the actual gaps are and the need we could fill”. I’m choosing to refrain from being the skeptic on this issue and focusing on the good that can come from this funding.