Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Rap Sheets and the Modern Professional Athlete - Enough is Enough!

I know it is the calendar year of "Throw Michael Vick Under the Bus," but after the dogfighting incident I think it is officially time to admit that Michael Vick has thrown HIMSELF under the bus. And let's just say I don't have any interest in trying to save him. It is isn't just the series of incidents over the past couple years (apparently providing herpes, weed, and dogfighting to the rest of humanity - aren't those 5 of the basic human needs?) but the cocky, unrepentent, willful, and false way that he has done all of these things. I know it is a common course of modern public relations for athletes to blatantly lie to the media and fans, but at some point I believe the fans have to say enough is enough. It's one thing if a player is making minor fabrications about his personal life, but it's another if he is continually getting caught engaging in crimes and other tortious conduct, some very serious that harm other people and animals, and then not only not taking responsibility for them but hiding behind attorneys, representatives, and even the NFL.

It always amazes me how an athlete that transcends his sport is able to avoid deserved rath if people WANT to believe that he's not guilty of something. If you believe that Michael Vick truly did not know that there was dogfighting going on at a house he owns and that he did not condone it, you're simply delusional. If you think that the compartment on his water bottle that smelled like weed was for carrying his jewelry, you're delusional. If you think nothing completely rephrehensible involving Kobe Bryant didn't happen in that hotel room in Colorado, you're delusional. If these were normal people that could not afford the best attorneys and most deceitful public relations campaigns, both Kobe and Vick would be sitting in jail today and we would all be happy that justice had been served. As it is, Kobe has the number 1 selling jersey in the NBA over the last year and I would not be shocked if Vick gets a slap on the wrist for dogfighting from the NFL and the District Attorneys in Virginia realize that it won't be worth spending $2 million dollars of tax-payer money to try the case and MAYBE get a guilty verdict when stacked against Vick's unlimited resources and army of attorneys.

And everyone wonders why sports just is not as exciting as it used to be? Even subconsciously our brains are telling us that we have been continuously deceived by professional sports. The NFL, NBA, and MLB have erroneously become convinced that the only way to sell their product is to have the absolute best athletes on the field/court without any other consideration. Who cares that they are cheating and using all kinds of banned substances to get an advantage until a congressional review is called? Who cares that their girlfriends can't go to their homes when they're in town because they are scared that they and their children will be killed by the player, as he threatened to do (see Elijah Dukes)? I, for one, am honestly sick of it. It seems like every day there is at least one story about something truly rephrensible that a professional athlete has done. Dogfighting, threatening childrens' lives, involvement in major drug trafficking (see Jamal Lewis and Tractor Traylor), murder, rape, etc. This isn't the Folsom Prison All-Stars playing the San Quentin Jailbreakers, but how is one to know at this point?

I'm not one just to continually complain about something without offering solutions. While I feel that the NBA, NFL, and MLB have started talking the talk that last year or two, they need to start walking the walk. Many people complain that players should be found guilty in criminal court before losing their jobs or being suspended, but the fact is that you can be found liable in civil court and face punitive penalties just by being "more likely than not" guilty. In fact, 95% of us at our jobs can be fired for NOTHING, we are "at-will employees." Granted, the athletes have contracts but we can just draft in what we need to to adequately protect the integrity of these sports. And yes, the Unions will cause a stink, but that's the price we all have to pay. And do the Unions really want to take that hard of a stand to protect the Vicks and Dukes of this world? These Players' Unions should be fully endorsing and supporting these measures to improve the integrity of the athletes that play professional sports.

At the same time that we need to deal much more harshly with improper behavior, we also need to provide a better system. The fact that Pacman Jones' suspension was decided by Commissioner Goodell and then appealed to Goodell is abusive and unfair. Not that both decisions were not 100% correct, but there must be a just system in place and this requires two committees of 3-5 individuals representing various interests, separate from the Commissioner; one to decide the punishment and another set up for appeals. This should be in place immediately for all major professional sports leagues. Only then can we justly begin to increase the enforcement of an appropriate standard of conduct. And only then should we be able to look in a mirror when we spend $100 to take our children to admire these athletes who represent only the worst in society.


1 comment:

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