Saturday, August 15, 2009

Michael Vick and The NFL

I really didn't think I'd add my blog voice to the ongoing outcry on both sides of the issue, but here I am nonetheless.

Vick was convicted of animal abuse. He was running an illegal gambling ring and viciously abusing and killing dogs. He served time in prison and then came the decision to reinstate him in the NFL, to allow him to continue to earn his rather cushy living playing the same sport that afforded him so much, including the money to back his hideous operation.

In direct response to my tweet against abuse, someone I don't know and had never seen on Twitter, tweeted me to ask if I felt the same way about people as I do about animals. Did she ever miss the point! I informed her that I don't like any abuse, in any form, directed at anyone, not animals, not people. In that respect, I'm no different from other animal lovers. We tend to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Another missed point is that people who abuse animals, frequently abuse people. It's a short step from Point A to Point B. So why are people lauding this man? The sports press in general seems to think that abusing dogs isn't such a big deal. Would they feel the same if Vick had abused a person? The general sports fans seem to think that animal abuse is okay as long as Vick can play football again.

Should he work again? Sure. Football? No, I think not. I think that he can find something else to do, something that doesn't allow him to reap the rewards of his previous career. He needs a lot of time in counseling to understand what he has done. He's repeating pretty words in interviews but they are empty. It's pretty obvious that he's using a prepared statement from which he can crib on TV. Say the words people want to hear and it's all okay. Well, no, actually it's not okay.

Many have pointed to his background, that where he comes from, people fight dogs illegally and that kind of abuse is considered perfectly normal. As long as you don't get caught. Are we to believe that none of his previous teammates owns a dog? Is attached to a four-legged companion? Are we to believe that he has never been exposed to this sort of relationship? That rather stretches credulity, doesn't it?

So, what should he be doing if this were a perfect world? Well, if this were a perfect world, there would be no abuse at all. Ever. Of any species. If he were to do anything it would be a real job, not a fantasy career where he makes an inordinate amount of money for pushing people around. He would be in counseling to learn about abuse in all of its forms. And he would go back to his former neighborhood and those like it and teach others why abuse is wrong, why dog fighting is illegal, and rightly so.

And the NFL wouldn't have given him another chance to make a lot of money but would set a better example for others. But for them, obviously, the bottom line is the bottom line and to heck with the kids who look to their players as heroes. Some hero Vick is.... Not.

But this isn't a perfect world. And it is up to each of us to do the job of explaining why abuse is abuse, the proven link between people who abused animals when they were children and serial killers, to teach about a kinder, gentler world. To truly Do Unto Others...