No, As a Matter of Fact, I’m Not Over It: Michael Vick, Nike and My Continued Disappointment

by Perckle on July 5, 2011

I’m taking a break from the funny and writing about something that truly bothers me.  Not that I’ve been very good at bringing the funny lately anyway.

***Before reading let me state: I have been against Nike since I was about 15 for many reasons, which I won’t get into here.  Also, I am a dog lover and will defend them. A lot.  Does this mean there are not bad dogs out there? Of course not.  But I do believe that most dogs deserve a second chance and using a dog’s breed as a primary reason for establishing danger is not only ridiculous, it’s racism for dogs. ***

Nike decided to name Michael Vick its Athlete of the Year.  Nike is free to do what it wants, but I would hope that a company with as loud a voice as it has would choose someone with a bit more grace, a bit more morality and a bit more respect for life in any form.  You simply can’t tell me there isn’t an athlete out there who maybe, just *maybe* would have been a better choice.

Many people say, “He did his time and he’s sorry for what he’s done, it’s time to forgive him.”  I do not agree.  Yes, he did a mediocre amount of time for exceptionally cruel crimes.  He was never charged with animal cruelty and any and all public appearances have contained scripted apologies.   In my opinion, there has never been a sincere look of remorse across his face.  Just because someone completed the majority of their jail sentence does not mean they deserve to be forgiven.  To me, forgiveness is not something that is given; it is earned, just like respect.  Michael Vick has done nothing to earn either from me.  He stated that if he had not been caught, he’d still be doing it.

I admit, I am incredibly biased and I will never understand the ability to treat an animal in such a way.  I have had dogs all my life and each one has been a tremendous source of joy.  Yes, some of them were difficult, barking at everything in site, refusing to be house trained and over-enthusiastically greeting guests; but every single one of them could put a smile on my face in 3 seconds flat.

If Michael Vick truly cared, if Michael Vick truly wanted to earn my forgiveness, he would become more involved in not only animal cruelty prevention, but in educating the public about the breeds involved in his crimes.  It is because of the dog fighting that he and his friends carried out that people are scared of my dog.  It is because of people like him who abuse these wonderful companions, leading to unfair stereotypes about the breed that thousands of people in Denver had their dogs murdered by the city.  It is because of these stories of “demon” dogs that city shelters, non-profit organizations and pit bull groups are overwhelmed with these dogs.  These images and stories that the media loves to flaunt like a 5th grader who stole his dad’s copy of Playboy prevent people from finding apartments that will allow them to keep their dogs.

If Michael Vick truly cared, now that he has his millions again, he would contact every person who worked without pay, for months on end, to rehabilitate those dogs and find them homes and write them a check and say thank you.  He would then make a point to check up on each and every one of those dogs.  Because you know what?  Those dogs are better than me.  They’d forgive him in a second.  Because that’s what dogs do.  They don’t hold grudges.  They love.  If there’s anything truly good to come out of the whole Michael Vick dog fighting, it’s that a group of people showed the world that even dogs deemed to be “some of the most aggressively trained pit bulls in the country” by the President of the Humane Society can be rehabilitated.

In high school, athletes were required to make certain grades.  If they were caught doing something less than “gentlemanly”, there were punishments on the field, whether it was sitting out a few games or being kicked off the team.  In college, athletes are still required to make the grades but we start to see some slipping on the ethics scale.  Please explain to me why morality and ethics in sports ends after high school.  Why aren’t these athletes — who the biggest brands in the world tell our children to look up to — held to a higher standard?  A politician who tweets a picture of his covered package is forced out of office and publicly ridiculed, but an athlete who took part in the killing and torture of innocent animals, federal crimes (yes, dog fighting is a federal crime) and illegal gambling is welcomed back with million dollar contracts and endorsements.

I just don’t understand.

For more information on the Vick case and the dogs at its center, I highly recommend Jim Gorant’s book The Lost Dogs.  It is heartbreaking and enlightening.  Please be warned that some sections are quite graphic.

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