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New York sports figures, teams join anti-domestic violence campaign

NEW YORK -- Most of the New York City area's professional sports teams have combined efforts with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and New York City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to launch a national campaign during domestic violence awareness month.

The campaign features coaches, personnel and players including Yankees manager Joe Girardi, Mets pitcher Jeurys Familia, Knicks legend John Starks, Liberty center Kiah Stokes, Rangers Hall of Famer Rod Gilbert and Cosmos players Lucky Mkosana and Giovanni Savarese.

Mark-Viverito had the idea for the campaign after the Yankees acquired pitcher Aroldis Chapman, and she wanted to give fans a way to support their teams while acknowledging the troubling issue that domestic violence poses in a sports context. In August, she started discussing the issue with local teams and asking them to be a part of a campaign that became #NotAFan.

"I don't want to be complicit by being silent, and that's why I feel it's important to speak out about it," Mark-Viverito said. "You've got these sports figures that have incredible reach and notoriety and influence and they should be held to a high standard. They shouldn't get a pass because of who they are and the standing they have, and how we handle this sets a tone for how we handle this on a daily basis."

The first of several public service announcements was set to debut on the giant screens in Times Square on Wednesday morning. Mark-Viverito will attend the Mets' playoff game Wednesday night, where the team will show a PSA from the campaign at Citi Field before the game starts. All season, fans can take a picture of themselves wearing team gear and a purple anti-domestic violence ribbon and tweet it to the campaign. In the coming weeks, the ad will be seen on Clear Channel media, the YES Network and MSG Network.

Mark-Viverito has spearheaded initiatives for the City Council, which has put $14 million into domestic violence-related services for New Yorkers. In her office, she's become familiar with New York's team owners and front-office personnel as they've worked with the city on stadium proposals and other issues.

"I'm on the side of having to vote on these incentives which sometimes can be controversial," Mark-Viverito said. "But there are a lot of things that the city does provide as a way of supporting these franchises. Some of them are on parks land. There's obviously an expectation that they be good neighbors, that they contribute in the ways they can ... I think it's a moral responsibility of them to be supportive of something like this."

The speaker's office reached out to the Jets and the Giants to participate, and both declined citing their support of other anti-violence groups in the area.

"We had already made a commitment to My Sister's Place, where we've had a relationship for 20 years, and the Joyful Heart Foundation," said a Giants spokesperson. The Jets noted support of Dierdre's House and Jersey Battered Women's Services.

There is no NFL rule preventing the Jets and Giants from participating, a league spokesperson told ESPN.

The Jets and the Giants both have players on the roster who have been suspended by the NFL for domestic violence-related infractions. The Giants' Josh Brown was suspended for the first game of the season, and Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa was suspended for four games last season.

Mark-Viverito said she would to see more teams join the campaign, which has the cooperation of teams but does not offer them oversight. The PSAs are edgy, playing with the idea of violence in a sports context that is not acceptable off the field, but Mark-Viverito doesn't shy from that connection.

"You can be a fan of the sport without condoning behavior," she said. "You can stand up for that."

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Girardi, Yankees team with anti-domestic violence campaign
Girardi, Yankees team with anti-domestic violence campaign
Yankees manager Joe Girardi teams up with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence for a national campaign during domestic violence awareness month.

NY Liberty team with anti-domestic violence campaign
NY Liberty team with anti-domestic violence campaign
New York Liberty center Kiah Stokes teams up with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence for a national campaign during domestic violence awareness month.

Related Topics:
sportsespnnational coalition against domestic violencenew york rangersnew york libertyquincy enunwaaroldis chapmannew yorkjohn starknew york yankeesrod gilbertnew york metscosmosgiovanni sevaresejosh brownespnwnew york knicksjoe girardijeurys familiakiah stokeslucky mkosana
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