After the revelations that NFL players Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson had abused wife and son, respectively, a national conversation erupted. One issue debated was whether playing professional football made it more likely for men to abuse their families.
According to Benjamin Morris of FiveThirtyEight, domestic violence arrest rates among NFL players are lower than the national average by raw numbers. But factoring in income level, the NFL’s domestic violence arrest rates are high, accounting for 55 percent of all arrests among NFL players.
Whatever the domestic violence correlation is in professional football, the conversation about NFL culture provides a chance to examine the broader relationship between all work life and home life. We believe there is a crisis brewing in the home because of practices in the American workplace. The way we work—no matter the nature of the work—inflicts the quiet violence of domestic neglect. We’re talking about the culture of overwork.
Americans are working longer weeks than ever. The Center for American Progress (a liberal D.C. think tank) reports that 86 percent of men and 67 percent of women now work more than 40 hours a week. They are skipping vacations to boot. We Americans don’t get that much to begin with. After 10 years of service, the average German gets 20 days of paid vacation, the English, 28, and the Finns, 30. Americans? Fifteen days—and we’re not even taking them.
Add to that how many check work e-mail at home and during the weekend, and how many jobs require employees to be away from their families for 100–200 days of business travel a year. It’s not hard to imagine the toll this takes on family and one’s ...1
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