Superbowl Sunday – The Perfect Teachable Moment

Dear Engaged Bystander:  Jackson Katz wrote a wonderful article for the Huffington Post called “What to Say to Boys and Men about Big Ben.” In the article, he outlines 11 excellent points about how to talk about Ben Roethlisberger, the star quarterback of the Pittsburg Steelers. For those of you who might not remember, Mr Roethlisberger was accused of raping a young woman in a bar bathroom while his bodyguards stood outside to prevent anyone from going in. 

Before you watch the Superbowl this Sunday, read this excellent article. He talks about the importance of:
  •  Leadership, on and off the field
  • Taking responsibility to stand up to people who mistreat others
  • The role that teammates and friends can play in preventing sexual violence
These points are also summarized by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape
This article provides the overview of what needs to be said to every boy and man and I would add, every girl and woman as well in America. I also would add encouragement to also have a conversation about the incident before or after the game. What Jackson Katz emphasizes so well is the impact that all of us can have on the prevailing beliefs of our friends and family. But a conversation might sound a little differently than the article. So if it is helpful, here are some questions you may want ask:
  • Did you hear about the incident? What was your reaction? Does your reaction change or would you feel differently if the woman was your best friend, your sister, or your daughter? 
  • What did you think about his suspension for four games at the beginning of the season? Are there other ways that the NFL could have sent a strong message that sexual violence is not acceptable? 
  • If the Pittsburg Steelers wanted to take on a leadership role in the fight against sexual violence, what could they do with the national focus on their time during the Superbowl?
I am sure there are many other questions to ask. But if you can, take the time to bring some attention to this issue, before, after or in the right households even during the game. 
Jackson Katz, Ph.D., is the creator and co-founder of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program, the leading sexual and domestic violence prevention initiative in college and professional athletics.  For more information, visit