Maybe the Nation Should Stick to Politics

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Dave Zirin, writing for the Nation is concerned about the
media's treatment of Michael Vick in the wake of allegations about
dog fighting. While Zirin correctly notes that there is an element
of racism is some of the online commentary about the story, he
completely misses the boat at end of his piece:

American culture celebrates violent sports–especially
football–and is insensitive to the consequences that the weekly
scrum has on the bodies and minds of its players. We love a sport
where any given play can be a player's last. We accept that after
44-year-old former Philadelphia Eagle Andre Waters committed
suicide, the autopsy revealed that his brain resembled someone with
early-stage Alzheimer's due to repeated concussions. We ignore
that a Hall of Fame running back, the once-unstoppable Earl
Campbell, can barely get out of a car without assistance. We forget
that Johnny Unitas, the greatest quarterback to play the game,
couldn't grip a football by the time of his death.

 

But in Vick's case, when this
media-massaged package of NFL fury fails to remain safely contained
on the field, the sports establishment throws up its hands in
horror.

There's simply no relationship between dog fighting and the
injuries suffered by football players. As tragic as the lives of
many former players have been, they had the capacity to choose
their careers, with awareness of the risks and rewards. Dogs
trained to fight or executed for lacking the will to do so don't
have that choice. Equating the experience of football players and
these animals actually seems to be a kind of benevolent racism. In
attempting to draw attention to the violence of American football,
Zirin seems to be suggesting that African Americans are incapable
of making good choices, or at the least, that they are little more
than the product of their environment.

Sometimes the story is just straightfoward. Involvement in
dogfighting or any form of cruelty to animals is abhorrent. If
Michael Vick is convicted, he should suffer serious consequences.


About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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