Every know and then, I like to offer some commentary on what’s going on in the sports world because it’s still what I know best and often it’s a reflection on the larger issues facing our society. The latest sports issue to enter the mainstream conversation involves NFL quarterback Michael Vick and his indictment by a federal grand jury on charges of taking part in a dogfighting ring.
You probably have heard the details of this case – and the public outcry for justice, or at least suspension for one of the NFL’s most high-profile accidents. IMHO, this story actually opens up the discussion for two other issues — our sometimes overdeveloped passion for pets and the role of the African-American athlete.
First — to the pet issue. I am constantly amazed that no matter how many stories we do about men and women being shot and killed, there is never quite the passionate reaction that we get when there is a story about an abused animal. Women are raped and sometimes killed by spouses and boyfriends, and yet when we hear about the neglecting of dogs and cats, the outcry is almost deafening.
Look, I am a dog owner and I abhor anyone who abuses or injures a pet — and believe they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law — and that includes Michael Vick. Still, let’s not look at the abuse of pets as any worse than the hurting of human beings. There are animal lovers out there who actually believe the life of a pet is more important than that of a human … and that makes no sense to me. I wish some of those people had the same passion for all the women who suffer from spousal abuse .. or those children who die in drive-by shootings.
Then, there is Vick giving black athletes a black eye. Another story about a young African-American athlete with millions of dollars in his pocket reverting back to the behavior and attitude that he may have grown up with as a child. I understand many African-American children grow up in less-than-ideal conditions and face many hardships on the road to success, but once they achieve that success — they need to grow up mentally.
As a black man, here is my advice to all you young black athletes who have pro potential and aspirations:
There is no reason you should be involved in illegal activity, no reason you should be in a strip club and no reason you should put yourself in situations that can lead to nothing but trouble. I know these are your friends, but once you reach a certain status it’s time re-evaluate those friendships to determine whether they are in your best interest. And if those friends call you an “Uncle Tom” for doing this, then it’s time to find new friends. You can be an inspiration and a contributor to the black community and still live a life not guided by the dark side of the “hip hop” culture.