The National Football League remains in free fall this week. Early Wednesday morning the Minnesota Vikings suspended start running back Adrian Peterson following his indictment in Texas on child abuse charges, while the Carolina Panthers announced the same with linebacker Greg Hardy, who has been appealing his conviction on domestic violence charges.
The latest shoe to drop for the NFL though came yesterday afternoon, with Phoenix police arresting Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer on suspicion of aggravated assault on his 27-year-old wife and on suspicion of aggravated assault involving his 1-year-old son.
In the wake of this news, two leading Tampa Bay Area youth sports officials associations, West Coast Umpires Association (WCUA) and West Coast Officials Association (WCOA) are launching a one month campaign speaking out against domestic violence, beginning on Friday. They'll begin by taking a message onto the field at all high school football games they officiate throughout the Tampa Bay Area. That message is: “Real men keep their hits on the field and stand up against domestic violence.”
The WCUA and WCOA campaign against domestic violence will culminate with a golf tournament next month. The funds generated from it will go to victims of domestic violence. That will take place on Friday, October 17, 2014 at the Claw at USF and is open to the public. The proceeds of the golf tournament will benefit The Spring and The Ashley Hall Fund (For more information, write to Dave Stone at [email protected]).
Dave Stone, President of the West Coast Umpires Association and a basketball and football official for the West Coast Officials Association, tragically has had to deal with domestic violence on a personal level. His niece, Brandon native Ashley Hall Atherley, was killed by her husband in California.
"This tournament is more than just a fundraiser, it is a chance for WCOA and WCUA officials to stand with the men in our family to give a voice to the loss we feel and the injustice that happens every time a man hits a woman," says Stone in a press release."More importantly it is a opportunity for us to stand up and influence a generation of young men and at the same time let victims like Ashley who may be sitting in the stands know that someone is standing up and speaking out for them."
This is the text of the message that will be recited before kick-off at all Hillsborough County Public School football games tomorrow:
The West Coast Officials Association has made a commitment to stand in solidarity with the National Football League against domestic violence. We invite you to join us to eliminate domestic violence within our society and our sport. One in four women are victims of domestic violence and one in three teenagers experience dating violence. Many lose their lives every year.
Character on the field and off the field matters. So beginning tonight, with every tackle, let's pledge to "Keep our hits on the field and stand up against domestic violence and dating violence." If we do this, these statistics will end with this generation of youth.
The Florida High School Athletic Association, Hillsborough County Athletics Department and the West Coast Officials Association invite you to take this pledge with us in encouraging men and athletes to stand up and lead on this issue. We also invite you to join us on October 17 at The Claw at USF for the Ashley's Angels Golf tournament to benefit the Ashley Hall Fund and the Spring of Tampa Bay. For more information go to the West Coast Officials Association's website www.wcoafla.com.