HOWARD — Tonight the Danville Blue Devils and the East Knox Bulldogs will clash in the annual Devil-Dog game, but on Thursday both teams heard nonviolence messages that had nothing to do with football. The message the teams heard was about inappropriate violence — domestic violence.
New Directions, in conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, promoted the event “Coaching Men into Boys.” Committee representatives Jordan Barnard and Aaron Allard spent time at the end of the day with the teams.
Barnard was someone with whom the athletes could relate. He explained that he had played football and wrestled in high school and played football at Malone College as a linebacker.
“Would you believe,” he asked, “that I had a coach tell me to ‘be aggressive.’”
“We’re men. We’re raised to be aggressive,” he continued. And Barnard deals with violence almost on a daily basis as a probation officer. “I see the ugly side of people who can’t handle their aggression.”
But while football aggression is entirely different, he pointed out that it’s not OK to hit women or children. He explained to the athletes that one response could be to just walk away.
Allard asked the athletes to pledge to “Never commit, condone or be silent about domestic violence.”
He emphasized his point explaining that the reason they are asking the football players to take the pledge is to demonstrate the difference in aggression.
“There’s a crucial distinction,” he said “between picking someone up in a football game and picking someone up to hurt them.”
He explained, “Domestic violence is preying on someone who is weak. ‘Commit’ means don’t do it. ‘Condone’ means don’t be silent when someone hurts other people. Don’t remain silent.”
Each team member signed the pledge posters that will be displayed at the Devil-Dog game tonight at Chet Looney Stadium in Howard.
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