26
Aug
07

Flicking the Vick

I congratulate NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to suspend disgraced Falcons’ quarterback Michael Vick indefinitely without pay, while at the same time opening the door for the Falcons to get back some of the bonus money they have squandered on this thug.

Until today, the message seemed to be if you were rich enough, arrogant enough, and you had game, then you were immune to the consequences of your actions. Roger Goodell has changed that with one resounding stroke of his commissioner’s pen.

And yes, it has occurred to me that there is a certain perversity to all this. Latrell Sprewell assaulted his coach, Ray Lewis was involved in a murder, and Kobe Bryant was accused of raping a woman (his explanation: “Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did”  Yeah, right.) All three basically got off scot-free. But harm a pooch, and a pissed off PETA leads the charge and the whole world comes crashing down around you.

This is not to make light of what Vick and his cohorts did.  Dogfighting is a barbaric and reprehensible activity, and in any event, it also happens to be illegal.  Perhaps Vick felt that because of who he is, he was safe from the law.  He’s about to find out he isn’t.

By now, everyone knows the details of this rather sordid case, so I won’t rehash them here. The point I want to make is that one of life’s constants is the way people, especially young people, idolize sports heroes. In past years it was Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. When I was growing up we had Carl Yastrzemski, Willy Mays, and Henry Aaron, to name just a few. In later years, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and Joe Montana were role models. Yes, I know Michael Jordan had some private issues, but at least in public he always behaved like a gentleman.

But today, the likes of Latrell Sprewell, Kobe Bryant, Ray Lewis, and now, Michael Vick offer a dubious example for others to follow. And because teenagers of ALL colors and socioeconomic backgrounds look up to them, their questionable values have permeated seemingly every layer of our culture. Rap music, with it’s message of violence, drug use, and mysogeny, is the music of choice among teens everywhere, regardless of their background. I know this may sound racist, but I am simply pointing out the obvious. Clearly there are many black athletes (Warrick Dunn, Deuce McAllister and Marshall Faulk all spring to mind here) who grew up in even tougher neighborhoods than Vick yet by all accounts are fine human beings.

Vick got what was coming to him. And while it does nothing to right the other above mentioned wrongs, at least it sends a message that, in fact, we still live in a society that values morals and decency, and expects its sports heroes to set an example.

-Smith

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6 Responses to “Flicking the Vick”


  1. 1 ~m
    August 26, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    Amen. Great post.
    I agree 100%.
    Vick is a thug that mistakenly thought he was above the law.
    Now and then it’s reassuring to see someone of stature (NFL Commish) stand up and issue a well deserved smack down.
    I’m surprised you didn’t mention my favorite gangsta: Allen Iverson {http://www.mugshots.net/allen_iverson/allen_iverson.jpg}
    ~m

  2. 2 joebec
    August 27, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    is he just suspended or is he booted from the NFL? he should be booted if he hasn’t been. I talked to my son about this yesterday and explained that bad role models should be made examples of. makes me sick what people think they can get away with.

  3. August 27, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    And people wonder why generations X and the echo boomers tend to be more pessimistic when it comes to idolizing celebrities and sports heroes. Growing up, we constantly find out that our idols were drug using, abusive, self-centered SOBs who think they can do whatever, whenever they choose.

    I live in the Atlanta area and I have to say that the Falcons would be better off without this man, who in the past, hasn’t had much respect for people. He wants redemption and forgiveness. Well, I think with many people, he’s gonna have to prove himself to be a stand-up man before forgiveness will come.

    Great post 🙂

  4. August 28, 2007 at 9:49 am

    The only thing that surprises me is how outraged we still become when other humans act inhumane and even that doesn’t really surprise me any longer. It’s just so comforting to point our fingers at other evil doers since that way we don’t have to look at ourselves. Especially our judgement of public figures, who we’ve raised upon some sort of throne from which we can’t wait to see them tumble – as if we always knew. The one aspect that does puzzle me, and which you point out correctly, is the manner in which we select who we trample once they’ve fallen. Or does the Media do that work for us?

  5. August 29, 2007 at 1:41 am

    I agree completely. This is not a race issue. It is a wealth issue. If you can afford a team of the best attorneys in town, you will probably be above the law. Or so, it usually goes. (I hope not this time.)

    If there is anything good about the Michael Vick story, it is that there is an emerging increased awareness about animal cruelty and animal fighting. There is so much anger about this issue. If we channel it into a positive direction, hopefully, something good can come of it. However…

    I watched Vick’s public apology with my little son who USED TO wear Michael Vick jerseys to school. It is disturbing to think a certain percentage of the population is honestly going to be swayed by Michael Vick’s “enlightenment” carefully crafted by his overpaid attorneys. Call me a cynic, but I don’t believe a man who has been allegedly torturing animals since childhood coincidentally has a religious epiphany as a result of getting caught and losing his job. I hope I am wrong.

    I think it is a sad commentary that we, as a culture, are using the Vick story to compare “What’s worse?” “What’s worse”, we ask, “carelessly fathering illegitimate children, or dogfighting?”. “Dogfighting or gambling?” “Dogfighting or rape?” “Dogfighting or racism?” “Dogfighting or hateful nationalism?” “Dogfighting or (fill in the blank)….?” The comparisons to dogfighting have been endless.

    Dogfighting is one more piece of evidence our country is in need of a spiritual transformation (please note I said spiritual and not necessarily religious). Animals are sentient beings – they feel pain, and they suffer, just like we do. They are not more important, or less important than human beings, but like human beings, they are important, too.

    Dogfighting pits one dog against another until one of them dies. The survivor gets his flesh torn off, ears ripped off, eyes pulled out, etc., and the reward for being “a winner” is to writhe in pain until the next fight. Enough said. The pictures make my flesh crawl. The losers are tortured, beaten, starved, electrocuted or drowned. For what? Because these poor creatures were unlucky enough to be born a dog!

    Every major faith teaches its followers to be responsible stewards of animals and the Earth. Please help us get the word out that caring for animals, just like caring for people, is an important part of just being a decent person and citizen. If we make this a priority, there will be no more dogfighting horror stories, and no more pointless comparisons of evils. Let us all rise, together, to be better people than we are today, shall we?

    Chaplain Nancy Cronk
    Founder, http://www.AnimalChaplains.com

  6. August 29, 2007 at 8:42 am

    Maybe the Vick saga shows that the tide is turning. One can only hope.


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