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Texas Coach Holds Domestic Violence Seminar for High School Football Team

Over the past 12 months, the issue of domestic violence among football players has gained significant national attention. From the high-profile cases involving former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and former Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy to a new National Football League initiative to raise awareness about domestic violence, it's been a banner year (and not in a good way) for the issue.

Recently, one high school football coach in Dallas took a proactive approach to ensure his student-athletes don't make the same mistakes.

According to The Dallas Morning News, the roughly 60 members of Skyline High School's varsity football team were required to attend a two-hour workshop on domestic violence earlier this month. Love is Respect, a project of Break the Cycle and the National Domestic Violence Hotline that particularly targets dating abuse, hosted the meeting.

"A lot of people would say they don't have the time to deal with it," head coach Derick Roberson told Vice Sports. "But I want to grow kids. What's wrong with taking a few hours in the first day of practice to do this?"

Roberson has firsthand experience when it comes to the detrimental impact of domestic violence. He told his players about how he still remembers his stepfather beating his mother, which resulted in a several-day hospital stay.

"My goal is to remind them that we don't hit women," Roberson told Vice. "We don't disrespect them emotionally or physically. Without them, we wouldn't be here. I want to reinforce the old school mentality of being a scholar and a gentleman. And we can win championships, too."

While male-on-female violence has attracted a majority of the football-related domestic violence headlines, the seminar addressed the other side of the issue, too. According to the News, "nearly half the players raised their hands when they were asked if they knew someone in an abusive relationship, and a third of them admitted that a female had 'put their hands on them.'"

"We see it all the time at school—girls being very confrontational, trying to embarrass the guys in front of everyone," Roberson told Glamour. "One kid came into my office crying, saying, 'Coach, I can't take it. I don't know what to do,' because his girlfriend hit him, and would pass by in the hall and try to rile him up. He was afraid he would react."

One in 10 high school students "has been purposefully hit, slapped, or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend," according to Love is Respect. The organization estimates nearly 1.5 million high school students experience physical abuse from a dating partner annually. However, only one-third of those students ever tell someone about the abuse, the organization says.

It's hard to imagine a better use of two hours than hosting an open forum about such a sensitive issue, especially given the national attention devoted of late to domestic violence and football. Credit to Roberson to recognizing his responsibilities as an educator go far beyond teaching his student-athletes proper tackling techniques.

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