We are a country of dog lovers. Often times our local and national news give higher priority to stories of animal abuse then when people are being abused. That said, I hope other athletes are learning from Michael Vick’s experience. From what I can observe this was a guy who was living the life that most American males dream. He was a rich and famous NFL Quarterback, arguably one of the NFL’s most feared athletes. But he continued to make the same mistakes that a number of athletes have made, he attempted to live in two worlds simultaneously. On one hand, he did not want to appear as if he forgot where he came from, so he continued to associate with people that he grew up around. People that he new were leaving on the fringe, but he did not want to appear to sell out.
Whether he liked it or not, the moment he was drafted by the NFL his life changed. He became a millionaire NFL QB, which provides him with an incredible amount of financial opportunities, but also puts you under and awfully bright spotlight. As an athlete/entertainer people will watch and catalouge your every move. And while your celebrity can get you certain breaks, it also means that your missteps are very public.
I am not suggesting that a professional athlete should immediately turn his/her back on their friends and family once they become wealthy. In fact I believe that they are in a better position to help those that want to accomplish more in their lives. But, they should immediately distance themselves from those who are not doing anything productive with their lives. And they should surely avoid those that are doing things that are either clearly illegal or are involved in things that they wouldn’t want talked about on the national evening news.
Now, I don’t know all of the facts yet, but it is not looking good for Michael Vick. If found guilty he deserves to spend time in jail. The truly sad part is that he could have easily avoided this situation. He did not need to know whether dog fighting was illegal or not. At a minimum, he should have thought to himself – would I want reporters discussing this on ESPN? How would my sponsors react if they knew I was fighting dogs to the death? That as part of this “enterprise” dogs were being executed? Again, even if none of this was illegal (or reprehensible) he would have had to come to the conclusion that his sponsors or employer would not be happy with his participation in this enterprise.
Now, do not get me wrong I do not feel sorry for him in the least. He is an adult and me made some incredibly stupid (and criminal) decisions. He now needs to face the music. I do feel that it is sad when an individual has so much going for them and yet – because of decisions that they make or don’t make – they piss it all away.