When it comes to teaching athletes about how to treat women, the Kansas City Royals are doing it right. Kathy Redmond, a sexual assault victim and champion for less violent athletes, spoke to the Kansas City Royals about violence against women for the second time Sunday. After countless professional athletes have abused or assaulted women in one way or another, Major League Baseball started a domestic violence education program this year and the Royals have taken it up a notch.
Redmond founded the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes in 1998 after her historic Title IX case against the University of Nebraska and the football player who raped her. She talked openly to the Kansas City Royals players and staff about her personal experience and the room full of men listened intently. According to The New York Times, Redmond pushed the players to talk about their perceptions of women and told them that not sharing their feelings in order to appear strong was unenlightened, challenging the hyper-masculinity often inherent in sports.
Major League Baseball's domestic violence program, working with nonprofit Futures Without Violence, requires all major league players and employees to attend a presentation, but the Royals and the Texas Rangers, who share their spring training complex, have extended this initiative to their minor league players, as well.
Redmond first spoke to the Royals in 2013 after the tragic murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs' linebacker Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend in December 2012, which ended with Belcher taking his own life in the training facility the NFL team shared with the Royals in Kansas City. The MLB's domestic violence initiative arose following the NFL's mishandling of Ray Rice's violence against his now-wife, Janay Palmer. Redmond is trying to prevent similar future attacks by athletes.
The Royals were ahead of the rest of the MLB when they invited Redmond to Kansas City in 2013 and the team is still doing more than most. By widening the domestic violence program to minor league players, younger athletes just starting their careers will be more informed, starting the chain of respectful male athletes much sooner. Royals players also reportedly weren't afraid to ask Redmond questions and talk honestly about how they view the issue, a important step toward helping athletes better understand their place in violence against women.
Speakers such as Redmond offer valuable insight and understanding into how victims are affected by assault. More professional and college sports teams could greatly benefit from similar presentations in the fight to end violence against women.
Images: Getty (1); National Coalition Against Violent Athletes/Facebook