What Kristin Chenoweth Got Wrong When it Comes to Athletes & Abuse Against Women
Last week, TMZ cameras caught up with Broadway favorite Kristin Chenoweth, as she was walking down the street. As a proud "Oklahoman" and fan of the University of Oklahoma Football team, she was asked whether or not she though star running back Joe Mixon deserved a chance to play in the NFL. Without hesitation, she answered yes and went on to say, "When people ask for forgiveness and do the work, they deserve a second chance."
The truth is, she's not wrong in saying that. I believe that too. However she's wrong when applying it to Joe Mixon, because he's already gotten his second chance by never really being punished for knocking a woman unconscious, in the first place.
In July 2014, Joe Mixon and some of his teammates encountered Amelia Molitor and her friend, outside a restaurant in Norman, OK. Mixon followed Molitor and her friend into the restaurant and confronted her and her friend. Following an exchange of words, Molitor shoved Mixon who then lunged at her which caused her to slap Mixon in the face. Mixon, without hesitation, punches Molitor, closed fisted, across the head, fracturing her jaw and knocking her unconscious. Mixon, rather than show any concern or regret, simply walks away like nothing ever happened.
This is the man who Kristin Chenoweth thnks should be able to make millions in the NFL.
To be clear, in her comments, Ms. Chenoweth was probably just combining her Christian beliefs to Boomer Sooner fandom. But where she's missing the point is that Mixon's second chance came in the form of not being seriously punished for his crime.
Mixon was eventually arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault. He was convicted and received a one-year deferred sentence(no jail time) and was required to perform 100 hours of community service and undergo counseling. As for football, he was suspended from the team for one year but was allowed to keep his scholarship, remain on the team and play this past season.
Where's the punishment?
As we've seen in many college football towns across the country, there was an effort by the school and local government to protect Mixon's image. The tape was kept confidential despite countless requests from media and it ended up taking a lawsuit to get it released.
Even after the tape was release, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops even admitted that he thought the original punishment was too light and should have kicked Mixon off the team. It's amazing how hindsight in these cases is always 20/20.
And while it's a bit surprising that Ms. Chenoweth is so quick to excuse Mixon, even more surprising because she's been recognized for her work for abuse victims, it's not rare. Sports fans, coaches, teams, colleges, etc are very quick to forgive and forget when it comes to abusing women.
Here's Former Florida State player De'Andre Johnson, punching a woman in a FL bar in 2015. While Johnson was kicked off the team, his punishment was laughable. After reaching a plea deal, Johnson participated in a "10-day sheriff’s work program" in the state of Florida and served six months of probation. Oh and he also got a scholarship to play at another Florida school next season.
Here's Mississippi State's prized recruit Jeffery Simmons(red shorts) pummeling a woman on the ground with several punches to the head. Even though they saw the tape, Mississippi State allowed Simmons to join the football team anyway. Simmons was found guilty of simple assault and only had to pay a couple of fines.
An of course, here is Ray Rice knocking his wife unconscious in an Atlantic City elevator. The timeline of the gross under punishment of Rice is well documented. Interestingly enough, Mixon punched his victim just one day after Rice received his first light suspension. Rice was only released from the Ravens after the video was released and has since not been signed to another NFL team.
And this doesn't even scratch the surface when it comes to the countless other times college and professional male athletes have abused women and received slaps on the wrist, if that.
And if you were wondering if Joe MIxon had learned his lesson, recent events have shown the opposite.
While any type of abuse against women is horrible, keep in mind these are football players. Grown men over 6 ft and 200 lbs, punching the skulls of women much smaller then them. It's a miracle these victims weren't killed from blunt force trauma.
I don't have to go into too much detail to prove that abuse against women is a problem in this country. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, on a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide. What's even worse is how little of these cases end up being prosecuted.
And yet, even after all this, we label lucrative contracts as "second chances", when in fact, not being put behind bars, was the the second chance, everything after is the unfortunate reality.
We see this happen in the theatre world as well. Many times directors and artists who have confirmed histories of inappropriate and criminal behavior are allowed to still work on Broadway because they "deserve" a second chance.
When we do this, it sends a terrible message that talent will always trump behavior. We need to change this. Condemnation of terrible acts like these cannot end after the criminal just apologizes or pays a fine. The NFL, NCAA, professional sports in general and even the Broadway community need to be taking aggressive stances to make sure that perpetrators of crimes like these never play on their fields or grace their stages. Otherwise it's sets the tone that somehow all of this in the end, is tolerated.
We admire Ms. Chenoweth for her many talents, I just wish she hadn't sounded like every other sports fan, by being too quick to forgive and forget.