Vick’s sports future should be determined by his past actions

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

Though newspapers and editorials have feasted upon the sad story of Michael Vick, his animal abuse, and whether his apology is genuine, it seems as though those authors clamoring for the public to accept his apology and let the guy play his season out seem to be overlooking a few key points.

First, authors supporting Vick’s return argue that though football fans and animal activists are entitled to some genuine outrage at Vick’s actions, there is no reason to bar him from playing football or make his case into a scandal. Other athletes haven’t been skewered by the media half so much for their indiscretions, especially those involving spousal abuse. If they aren’t getting as much media scrutiny for their graver offenses, then what right do people have to prey on Vick?

It appears that these authors skate over the fact that Vick, as well as other players, have committed serious crimes. In my book, justice deserves to be meted out both to those who were hurt by and those who committed that crime. If other athletes aren’t being hounded as much as Vick about their pasts, then maybe it’s time that they should be. People who are famous, whether for being an athlete, a movie star, or just for being well-known, ought to be treated the same as anyone else in the eyes of the law.

Maybe if we started to hold our athletes and idols to a higher standard, then they wouldn’t commit the crimes in the first place. If abusing a wife, child, or animal meant losing your spot on the team, no matter how much of a skilled player you were, then that might have some serious effects on how these players conduct themselves.

However, the suggestion that the public drop the issue of Michael Vick just because other abuse cases haven’t gotten the same press coverage is just ludicrous. People should be paying more attention to the transgressions of those in the limelight, not less.

A second point common to these editorials is the view that Vick has served his time, made his apology, and ought to be left alone. I disagree. When you have committed an abuse like that, either ending in the bodily or emotional harm or death of another being, then you really ought to be reminded of it all the time. It shouldn’t be an easy thing to live with taking the life of another creature, whether it’s a dog, cat, or human.

Vick does not deserve to be spared any of the spotlight; he should not be allowed to forget what he’s done, and neither should the public. Sports stars are put on high pedestals and admired, and they need to know that they don’t get special treatment just because they can play the game well.

Last, these authors appeal to their audience’s idealism, stating that Vick, though he has done wrong, has shown enough remorse and ought to be given a second chance. They also point to his efforts with the Humane Society as proof of his contrition and well-meaning.

But, this leads me to ask: what qualifies as “enough” remorse? A quick Internet search of Michael Vick will show various studies, some more legitimate than others, claiming to have figured out what percentage of “truth” or “remorse” was in Vick’s apology. Is remorse really something that’s measurable and absolute, or is it subjective for each person? If someone tells us that a man’s remorse has passed the pivotal point of believability, are we to trust them or draw our own conclusions?

Michael Vick has also had a swarm of image-saving publicists at his beck and call, to help him get out of his sticky legal situation without setting off a conflagration of fan outrage. This should set off alarm bells for those seeking to know if he’s telling the truth. If someone else has to tell you what the words coming from the bottom of your heart are, then chances are you weren’t very remorseful in the first place.

And to those saying that he deserves a second chance, I say that those six dogs he killed deserve a second chance, too. Dogs and cats — pets of all kinds — are capable of loving a human unconditionally. They often end up trusting completely those that look after them, not out of necessity, but out of love. It’s rare that love is so freely given (as anyone trying to find it knows), and to hurt or kill something that loves you just for feeding it or scratching behind its ears every now and then goes against every tenet of respect and affection we, as people, have been taught. Vick can feed as many homeless dogs as he likes; he can donate as many thousands of dollars to shelters as he wishes, but the fact remains that he has acted against something powerless and defenseless, just because it “underperformed.”

Michael Vick should not be allowed to return to football, where he’ll make millions this year and soon forget about those animals he murdered. He should not be allowed to have a pampered life, living in an expensive house and pursued by fans clamoring for an autograph.

No, Vick should make reparations for what he’s done. The course of his life should be altered as much as those of the dogs he killed: he shouldn’t be allowed to play football, get paid millions, and live the high life. Instead, he should be made to pay for his crimes.