The focus on athletes committing acts of domestic violence or sexual assault has been ever-present in the news over the past year; new incidents seem to pop up at least weekly. I’ve been asked, “is it because they’re such superstars they feel they’re beyond the rules?”, or “Is it something about athletics or people who excel in athletics that contributes?” I don’t have the answers.

DeAndre Levy (@drelevy) | TwitterBut today I read Man Up an article by Deandre Levy, a linebacker for the Detroit Lions, that sheds some light on the messages we give young men about masculinity:

“It’s truly astounding the number of awful things that occur in this world because men are afraid of appearing weak.”

… and the messages we don’t give them about sexual violence.

“My understanding is that most women have heard the talk about how to avoid becoming a victim, but growing up, I was never involved in a conversation about what consent is. I was never even flat-out told not to rape or sexually assault anyone.”

More frank talk like this is needed, with young athletes, with coaches, with our sons, and with the parents who raise boys. Levy makes a compelling argument for getting real about these issues and leading the change:

“Some of the funniest, most insightful and honest conversations I’ve ever had in my life have taken place inside a locker room. But this particular topic is one that has never come up.
As professional athletes, we have the prominence in our communities to effect real change. When we talk, people listen. So in a sense, our general silence on this issue is condoning it.
So let’s change that. Speak out with me. Man up.”

Click here to read the article.