Friday, August 14, 2009

Michael Vick Revisited

A while back I created my first Leftist Sports Blog entry. The basic idea behind it is that you rarely see an analysis of sports from a leftist perspective. This is understandable because most leftists are busy trying to end racism, sexism and homophobia to spending anytime analyzing billion dollar industries that serve in many ways as the "opiate of the masses". To my leftist friends and readers that abhor the sports industry, I don't blame you. That said I watch sports, mostly basketball. I have an awareness of all of the major sports that dates back to my childhood when my first love was baseball. And so I'm going to write about it from time to time and lend a vantage point that is rarely seen in the sports world. Let me know what you think.

My first sports related post was about Michael Vick and today I've chosen to revisit his case in light of his recent return to the NFL. One of the issues that I find interesting in his case is the references to the "boisterous" protests awaiting his return. I've read this at least a thousand times in various articles. And while it is true that there were intense protests during his court hearings which I discuss later on, I'm here to tell you that the protests this time around will not be that "boisterous". Protesters and Pro-Sports rarely interact with each other. Obviously they have occasionally but protest culture has been removed from sports with a few exceptions since the days of Muhammad Ali. Back then athletes were more likely to take political stands. Things have changed. Anyway because the sports world is so removed from protests, most of them expect large crowds of "raucous" protesters. I've got a news flash; it’s not going to happen. There may be a handful and even possibly one big one but it will fizzle out. As an organizer I understand that you have to have a rallying point. Multi-millionaire super athlete getting way with murdering dogs is something that some people will come out for. Multi-million dollar athlete loses all of his money, spends two years in jail and is hired to a non-guaranteed contract as a backup. That doesn't bring people out it just doesn't.

Anyway last night Vick was interviewed on 60 minutes. I thought the interview was good for the most part. Michael is in an extraordinarily rare position. In sports there have always been talented athletes with personal flaws that lead to their downfall. What is rare, is for a famous wealthy athlete to lose all of his/her money, serve two years in prison, and return with enough time, to, at least theoretically, reclaim his/her position in the sport he/she left. In fact the last athlete I can think of was Muhammad Ali (who was out of boxing for much nobler reasons than Vick) The athletes that typically have such a tremendous fall from grace are often black Americans. Michael Vick has an opportunity at becoming a figure of redemption in Black America. Assuming for a moment that he is able to put his life back together and serve as a role model to kids that could be at-risk for dog fighting, will the animal rights movement accept him or reject him?

During some of Michael Vick's trial dates there were serious protests as well as counter protests. The people that came to condemn Michael Vick were mostly white most of them involved with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), while the citizens who came out to support Michael were overwhelmingly black Americans. I found this to be ironic. Watching the children of the civil rights movement, in the land where Jim Crow was defeated, at odds with Animal Rights Protesters, who wouldn't know what a protest sign was if it wasn't for the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., was an extraordinary sight. To me it personally made clear to me that some people on the left really have not developed a solid race analysis. I realize that shouldn't have been a newsflash but I mean are you really going to hold up a sign that says "Neuter Michael Vick". What the hell is wrong with you?

I could go on and on about the problematic tendencies of the animal rights movement. And for the record, I consider myself a strong believer in Animal Liberation. I think we live in a society that puts profits ahead of the needs of all living things, including animals. I am opposed to puppy mills, animal fighting, the majority of animal testing and factory farming. My fundamental problem with many in the animal rights movement is a total lack of awareness of the prison system. If you are opposed to the enslavement of animals you should take at look at the enslavement of humans in US prisons and at the very least think twice before you say something like: "Michael Vick got off easy." If you think so, that is you're prerogative, but I suggest you make sure you know what you're talking about when you say it. Giving up your freedom for two years in a cage is no walk in the park.

1 comment:

  1. Grace, mom, adjunct instructor (biology)August 29, 2009 at 7:29 PM

    The environmental movement focuses on wildlife, rights of endangered species and the need for habitat. The animal rights movement focuses on domesticated animals that are not endangered, and the individual suffering.

    While I am glad folks are trying to come out of their numbness towards the suffering of other being and replace cruelty with gratitude, we need to pick up our heads and realize what time it is.

    We are fully expecting in this 6th Great Extinction for 1/4 of all species to go extinct if we are lucky and make steps we have not even begun to make.

    There really isn't time to waste.

    No games on a dead planet. Where are we going to play when the earth is gone?