Thursday, July 26, 2007


Vick and the Jock Culture

From Jason Cole at Yahoo Sports:
"Until Monday, when [NFL Commissioner Roger] Goodell ordered [Falsons quarterback Mike] Vick to stay away from the team's training camp while the league reviews the federal dogfighting charges against him, at least one person close to Vick felt he didn't fully grasp the ramifications of his circumstances.

"I wouldn't say he's delusional about the problem, but I don't think he sees it as being as big a deal as everybody else," the associate said. "He thinks it's going to blow over eventually … He doesn't know how deep this goes."

Mike Vick...just...doesn't...get it.

Vick doesn't think think the allegations are a big deal. By extension, is it safe to assume he doesn't think dog fighting is a big deal? If he doesn't think being accused of fighting dogs is important, then how far of a stretch is it to believe he would actually do it?

While this may not be damning evidence, it certainly lends credence to the charges. But there is another side to Vick's state of mind: the jock culture.

We all have seen how jocks rarely have to face consequences for their off-the-field activities. We have all seen the DUI's, and speeding charges, and wife/girlfriend beatings, but how many times do jocks ACTUALLY get caught? I suspect it is a lot more times than we have been led to believe, but we will never know for certain if the police won't hold these kids accountable.

And childhood is where it starts. A kid is good at a specific sport in high school. But kids being kids, he does something wrong at school. The principal finds out, and covers it up, because the school's team is winning, thanks to this kid.

Maybe the kid is failing a class, so the principal puts a little pressure on the teacher to give the kid a passing grade.

By the time the kid is out of high school, he has only learned one thing: Do well at sports, and all other things will be forgiven.

In college, this lesson is only reinforced. Money, dinners, and gifts from alumni boosters only serve to ingrain the lesson. Of course, the campus police are always there to escort a star player back to his dorm room after he gets drunk and rapes some poor girl at a frat party.

On top of all this, the jocks all look after each other. That is part of the team mentality. Unfortunately, the jock culture almost elevates it to mafia-like similarities.

Consider all the current and former players who have come out in defense of Mike Vick:
Clinton Portis (RB, Redskins): "It’s his property, it’s his dog. People should mind their business."

Joe Horn (WR, Falcons, from an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution): "What upsets me is if you don't know Michael Vick or haven't talked to him about how he feels, you shouldn't talk about the man until he's proven guilty or exonerated. Let the system take care of itself and take its course...

I've spoken to him several times. Mike is saddened about the tension this is going to cause the team. I assured him I support him, the rest of the guys support him and the team supports him. Whether he's guilty or innocent or whether you believe he is, time will tell...

I think he should be around. The more he's around his family, his football family, his teammates playing football; it's what might help Michael Vick. I respect our commissioner but I don't think suspending him is going to help him. Michael wants to play football. He told me that over and over again. "I know what's going on but I need to be there playing and going through training camp to try and get through this." I told him over and over that good times will come again. Right now you're going through something and it's something you're going to have to go through.

Deion Sanders (former NFL cornerback, in an editorial on "What a dog means to Vick might be a lot different than what he means to you or I. Hold on, don’t start shaking your head just yet. Listen to me.

Some people kiss their dogs on the mouth. Some people let their dogs eat from their plate. Some people dress their dogs in suits more expensive than mine, if you can believe that.

And some people enjoy proving they have the biggest, toughest dog on the street. You’re probably not going to believe this, but I bet Vick loves the dogs that were the biggest and the baddest. Maybe, he identified with them in some way.

You can still choose to condemn him, but I’m trying to take you inside his mind so you can understand where he might be coming from.

Emmitt Smith (former NFL running back): "He's the biggest fish in the whole doggone pond so they're putting the squeeze on him to get to everyone else...Now, granted he might have been to a dogfight a time or two . . . but he's not the one you're after, he's just the one whose going to take the fall -- publicly."

Does anyone wonder where the phrase "dumb jock" comes from? Logic goes out the window when they have to defend one of their kind. Portis was downright defensive, Horn completely ignored the PR ramifications because he wants his teammate on the field, Sanders sounds like Oprah, and Smith is paranoid.

But why would great players like these reduce themselves to stupidity in order to defend the indefensible? Just as Vick doesn't see his own problems, neither do other players.


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