NFL players have long been the targets of sexist comments and jeers from fans.
But the league has been making strides to end the abuse and has even hired an expert on how to handle the problem.
The latest example comes from the National Football League, which announced Friday that it will hire an expert to help tackle sexism and abuse of female athletes in the sport.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the appointment will be part of an initiative to combat the problem, which he said is a bigger issue than ever.
“In the last few years, there’s been a real emphasis on how we’re going to tackle this, and that’s something that we’re working on right now,” Goodell said.
“The issue is that the game itself, the culture, the attitudes, the things that we’ve seen, it’s a real problem.”
Goodell’s goal is to help bring the issue to the forefront.
“As I’ve seen with the recent NFL player protests, this issue of sexism in our league and the culture is very, very serious and very much a concern of ours,” he said.
NFL Players, Inc. will serve as the organization’s first-ever adviser.
The NFL Players’ Association (NFLPA) said in a statement that Goodell is “dedicated to helping NFL players and their families, as well as all the players, build their personal safety and success in this unique and complex world.”
“His appointment to the NFLPA is another step in our ongoing commitment to improve the safety and well-being of our players and the game as a whole,” the statement said.
The group will be tasked with creating an independent, outside-the-box solution to the issue of female players being harassed, targeted and otherwise mistreated by fans and other athletes.
The organization will also be required to work with women in the industry to improve their experiences and ensure that fans can see their faces when watching the game.
The league said it will launch a survey that will allow fans to submit their thoughts about the issue.
“It’s going to be a process,” Goodell told reporters.
“We’re going in there, we’re just trying to get it right, we don’t want to make this into a culture issue, because we have a strong culture here.”
The NFL has been dealing with the issue in recent years.
Last year, the league suspended some of its players for domestic violence or other violations after former NFL star Ray Rice was found to have struck his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, in an Atlantic City casino elevator in 2013.
In 2014, former Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright was found guilty of assault for punching his ex-girlfriend, Danielle Hunter, and a judge ruled that Wright was guilty of “malicious conduct” and was suspended for a year.
In 2017, former Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was found not guilty of domestic violence charges, and the league later reduced his suspension to 12 games.