Pro Sports Leagues Tell Senate Panel They're Working on Domestic Violence Problems

Joe Torre, the Hall of Fame former manager of the New York Yankees, now the executive vice president of baseball operations for Major League Baseball, acknowledged that, like Vincent, he is “a person whose childhood was touched by domestic violence” who has “come to understand that discussing the issue publicly has the potential to help millions of victims who believe that they must suffer in silence.”

Torre said that in 2002 he and his wife Ali formed the Safe at Home Foundation to create educational programs aimed at ending the cycle of domestic violence.

“I consider it one of my proudest accomplishments in my career,” he said.

Baseball, Torre said, is developing a policy to address domestic violence and sexual assault that could be implemented prior to the 2015 season. Since September Major League representatives have met with more than a dozen organizations focused on addressing domestic violence and violence against women.

“Representatives from those groups consistently told us that while they were obviously unsettled by the recent incidents of domestic violence in professional sports, they believe that those incidents have shined a light on an issue often in the shadows,” he said. “They believe, and we agree, that sports leagues can make a difference.”

Michele Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, told the committee that domestic violence “is a topic that our players recognized needed to be addressed long before the events of recent months, when the public’s attention has turned so intently on the subject.”

“Recent events have given us an opportunity to re-examine and strengthen the already comprehensive scheme the NBA and NBPA had in place, and add even more safeguards with a focus on prevention and counseling,” Roberts said. “We want to make sure that every player, wife, girlfriend, and family member has a safe environment to seek help without fear of retaliation or additional harm. And in doing so, our recent efforts have brought together representatives of all members of the NBA family in an unprecedented fashion."

"We also want to lead by example and help create the kind of awareness and attention that this prevalent and society-wide problem deserves.”