Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Do Your Heros Have To Be Heroic?

Back in the day, I was a huge Charles-"I Am NOT A Role Model"-Barkley fan. In a 21st Century context, aside from the occasional fight with some dude in a bar, Sir Charles was seemingly pretty well behaved.

A few years ago, while listening to sports radio program that was pooh-poohing the allegations of spousal abuse against NBA player Jason Kidd, I decided to call in. It will sound unbelievable, but the conversation went something like this:

Radio Host: Do you believe that the general manager should even have an opinion of Jason Kidd's off-the-court actions?

Me: Well, yes. I mean, in my opinion if a manager thinks a player is a bad person who represents his team in a negative light, then they should be able to fire them.

Radio Host: So, do you think Jason Kidd is a bad person?

Me: ... Huh? ...YES!

Radio Host: That's harsh man.

[line disconnects]

Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time watching a wife-beater play basketball. I just do.

I don't follow televised sports much. The last I heard, quarterback Michael Vick was a suspect in a dog-fighting ring - yeah, I know I'm out of the loop. Just in case you're as behind the times as I am, Vick was convicted and served time in prison. He is now back and dominating the competition in the NFL. The following article, in my opinion, is worth a read if you're a fan of football, or dogs: Dog Owner Can't Forgive Michael Vick

Fair or not, in the modern age, the public figure is under greater scrutiny than ever. And, if you think that scrutiny is too much now, wait 10 or 20 years - it will be even greater as future stars' every Facebook update and tweet on Twitter are searched, dissected, and archived.

What do you think? Do your heros and gurus need to be virtuous? Are the actions of coaches and athletes off of the field something fans should care about?


Faizal S. Enu said...

I guess I am really pragmatic.

Can I appreciated a coach's/athlete's prowess and think they are a total douchehat? Absolutely

Will that person be a hero? No

Would I watch that person play? Maybe

Two different things.

Now with Michael Vick. This is my opinion only. He did the crime at a young age. Did I make mistakes at 28? Yes. Should I pay for them for the rest of my life? Maybe.

Michael seems to have turned the corner both as an athlete and a person. Something has to be said for that.

And if you watch horse or dog racing, get off your high horse, because you are no better than Michael Vick. Think about it.

Boris said...

"Listen, there's no proof of anything except that this guy is a sensational athlete!" - Jerry Maguire

Anonymous said...

Boris, you ask a fair question. To some extent we deify these individuals, then curse and vilify them for being human or less than human. I watched Michael Vick whip the Skin's ass Monday night. A superb athletic performance, would I let him watch my family’s pet lab HA!

These chowder heads have millions of dollars thrown at them, fans adore em' etc...They begin to place themselves above the law, and to some extent society tolerates their BS and personal peccadillo’s. I loved watching Farve compete, am I disappointed by his current antics, absolutely. It’s certainly not the way I would have liked to watch a competitor like him end his career. We forget in most cases they’re immature, driven by a lack of social consciousness and although athletically gifted, are mental midgets in the world of morays and taboo. I’d rather watch an armature level competition any day; the athletes are still pure and compete for the love of the event, not the love of the money.

I think everyone of them should be accountable to everyone of us that lined their pockets through ticket sales, purchase of memorabilia or buying products they endorse.

I'll go out on a limb and say for every Vick or Jason Kidd, there's a ton of Steve Young’s or Frank Shorter's or Roberto Clemete's. Individuals who compete for the love of their sport and pay their success back through humanitarian deeds or by just living up to their name.

Boris said...

Thank you Anonymous - it's good to remember those that give back to the community.

Anonymous said...

"If you watch horse or dog racing, get off your high horse, because you are no better than Michael Vick. Think about it."

OK, I have thought about it.

Vick did some things to those dogs that...well, I can't think how to finish that sentence. Horses and dogs don't race well if they're tortured, it doesn't make business sense, if nothing else. When Vick's dogs lost he and his buddies "punished" them to slow death. Horse and dog owners put animals down. The intention and the effect are different.

I guess the problem is that if one has a view that there aren't wholly bad acts and people only degrees of badness (we're all sinners, just by watching horse or dog racing "you're no better than Michael Vick"!, etc.) then there's no way out except moral relativism.

Aaron Friday said...

Hi Boris,

I think Michael Vick is a piece of shit, and dog fighting is an abomination.

It's off limits as far as I'm concerned, like arming 6 year-old kids with knives and having them fight each other to the death.

Aaron Friday said...

To his own credit, Sir Charles always admitted that he gambled, that he enjoyed it, and that he could afford to do it (i.e., lose a shit-load of money).

Is it OK? For Sir Charles? Yeah, it's OK. For you or your child? No fucking way! Gambling in any form has an expected return of -50% no matter when or how you do it, and no matter how much you wager.

Faizal S. Enu said...

Horses and dogs don't race well if they're tortured, it doesn't make business sense, if nothing else. When Vick's dogs lost he and his buddies "punished" them to slow death.

==> If the horses are not being punished. Why do the jockeys have whips.

If greyhounds are treated humanely, why are there so many greyhouse "rescue" groups.

I am not saying what Vick did is good, but what I am saying is don't think that horse and dogs love running around in circles for the amusement of people.

Boris said...

Hi Aaron,
I think we're in perfect agreement.
If I knew too much about Sir Charles, I might change my views, but I'm still a fan.

Anonymous & Faiz,
We could debate other things like horse racing, dog racing, eating meat, etc. but I believe that you have to draw a line somewhere and dog fighting for sure crosses it.

Aaron Friday said...

For many years, my brilliant idea to advance the Minnesota Gophers teams was that they all stop committing felonies.

I know, that's pretty harsh. How will they be able to play sports as non-felons?

Boris said...

Iowans feel the same way about the Hawkeyes!

Frank Aldridge said...

My only hope is that Michael Vick is badly, permanently injured in a game. He's a despicable piece of shit.

Anonymous said...

Whipping a horse in such a way that it actually runs better may not be to your liking, but it's a damn sight different to electrocuting a dog to (eventual) death.

Greyhounds are rescued from being put down, not from being tortured.

Faizal S. Enu said...

I guess logic isn't a valued commodity here.

If someone "rescues" a dog that would otherwise be put down, isn't that effectively saying that the dog is no longer useful to the owner, but may be a great pet to someone else.

If that is not abusive, I don't know what is.

Steph said...

Having been around horses and horse racing my whole life, I've seen plenty of nasty things that are equal to or worse than what Vick has done. Sadly, no one makes a big hoopla about it. People starve their animals, beat them, run them while injured, ect. and get off with a free card and a slap on the wrist.
Atleast he served his time. If he does it again though, that would certainly be a different story..

Red Boar said...

In my opinion, people like Michael Vick should be FOREVER incarcerated.

I DO NOT CARE and I CANNOT WATCH such a person, NO MATTER what kind of performance he/she is exhibiting, if I know he/she enjoyed such cruelty.

Animal abuse is just as bad as child abuse. This guy IS a sociopath and a danger to society. Yes, psychos can have extraordinary abilities in all areas of expertise, but they will be nothing more than psychos! I REALLY HATE THEIR KIND!

Faizal S. Enu said...

I hope you have the same feeling about yourself if you wonder how your steak or leather shoes were put down.