In my recent post about Manny Ramirez, I tried to question some of the underlying assumptions that cloud the mind of the American sports fan. But performancing enhancing drugs is a tame conversation starter compared to Vick’s premeditated and ritual abuse of America’s favorite pet. That it was for sport only serves to increase the stigma. It doesn’t help matters the media seems fixated on perpetuating the that same stigma.
On his blog Tony Monkovic compares the official statements from PETA and the Humane Society. Vick seems to have become the whipping boy of PETA. Vick’s crime aside, I’m uncomfortable with the double standard that the media has applied to this story. From the beginning to the (no) end (in sight) of this story, Vick has become a symbol for cruelty. PETA has gone so far as to say that they “will not take anything off the table when it comes to any team or league that may sign Michael Vick.”
What he did was cruel. No question. Vick subjected harmless animals to pain; he put them to death for the sake of sport. But I’m tired of the double standard. Every year folks head out into the woods armed with rifles, bowie knives, and bows and arrows to hunt down innocent animals for sport. Tell me that bow hunting is something other than subjecting animals to pain and death for the sake of sport. Tell me that the ritual slaughter of often docile and helpless animals that takes place every year in America for the sake of sport is something drastically different from dog fighting.
I understand that what Vick funded and particpated in was a different degree of cruelty. And don’t forget, he suffered two years in prison for it. But what I’m interested in is the arbitrary cultural dichotomy between hunting for sport (legalized killing) and dog fighting (illegal killing).
As much as we want to make it black and white (no pun intended), it’s simply not that simple.
I hate that innocent animals suffered at his hand. I also hate that innocent animals suffer for the sake of legalized sport. But neither of these questions interest me in Vick’s case. They just represent the larger cultural milieu that has to be named before we can talk about the interesting stuff.
For instance, after the media has created such a $%@& storm for Vick, it’s fascinating to read Adam Ostrow’s take on using media to reinvigorate Vick’s career.
And perhaps the biggest question that remains (aside from the obvious: will Goodell reinstate Vick?) is: can Vick still play? He never was a great passer. Never had great vision. He was always just the most freakish athelete on a field full of freakish athletes. After two years of life in the slow lane, can he still fly? I hope to see this question answered on the field. So Goodell, PETA, NFL teams, get it right. Get over yourselves and let the guy play.