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October 6, 2014                                                         Shaylyn Hynes (Poe) 202- 225-6565



Bipartisan Effort in House Urges Pro Sports Leagues to Adopt

Stronger Policies Against Abuse and Assault 



Washington, DC – Today, Co-Chairs of the Victims’ Rights Caucus, Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Jim Costa (D-CA), along with Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), led a bipartisan effort to urge the major U.S. sports leagues to review and strengthen their policies regarding domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse. The Representatives were joined by 53 other Members of Congress in sending letters to the “Big Five” sports leagues: the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, and Major League Soccer. The letters come in the wake of a number of allegations against professional athletes committing acts of violence and abuse against women and children.


“Professional sports leagues have a responsibility that goes beyond ticket sales and royalties. Our society, for better or worse, idolizes its athletes.  While domestic violence was once seen as a “family issue,” we’ve made some progress as a society,” said Rep. Poe. “Unfortunately, as recent incidents show, we still have a long way to go.  Professional sports leagues need to put policies in place that send a strong message: those who commit violence against women will not get away with it.”

"As a society, we have a responsibility to work toward a future free from violence against women and children,” said Rep. Costa. “Our nation's professional sports leagues have the opportunity to use their platform to help lead this effort. I am hopeful that the leagues will work with our nation’s top victim advocates and take the strongest possible stand against these serious crimes.”


In part, the Members wrote, “We urge you in the strongest possible terms to use your profound platform to move our society toward a future where violence against women and children is not acceptable. By ensuring that the leagues policies and practices take the strongest possible stand against these crimes, everyone in America will understand that no one who commits violence against women and children can get away with it."

“Domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse are serious issues and they deserve thorough scrutiny and serious discussion.  Pro sports leagues are in a unique position to address issues like these, as they have the means to influence a wide range and great number of people,” stated Rep. Hartzler. “Violent crimes of any nature are tragic and they must stop.” 


“Our nation’s professional sports leagues can and should work proactively to prevent domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse,” said Rep. Maloney. “This effort should extend beyond athletes and into the broader community.  Violence against women and children can never be tolerated and sports leagues can be valuable players in sending that message.”