Michael Vick Finally Released: What This Means

July 20, 2009

Michael Vick is finally out of prison. He is not just being transferred from one prison to another, but actually free. I am happy for Michael, but I worry. I never agreed with the way the world treated Michael Vick, and I stated this fact everywhere people would listen. At the same time, I never thought that Michael Vick was innocent, and I actually thought he was a knuckle-head. The truth, however, is that treating him like a mass murderer over his youthful indiscretion was simply uncalled for.

Vick’s treatment by the media is nothing new: Every year, there is at least one black male athlete chosen as public enemy number one. This person is villified as if they’d stabbed the pope and shot a newborn baby. Before Vick, there was Randy Moss, Ron Artest, Latrell Sprewell, Barry Bonds, OJ Simpson, Muhammad Ali, Jack Johnson and others. The funny thing about it is that white athletes also commit crimes, but we are somehow convinced that most of the perpetrators of bad behavior are African American. What you see through the camera lens is largely a function of where the camera is pointed, since the media can only report about .1% of everything that happens at any given time. The camera is usually aimed away from black athletes doing good things, like Myron Rolle, the former Florida State Seminol who passed up on the NFL draft to study at Oxford. Instead, it tends to be pointed toward athletes who do things that embarrass their families. Simultaneously, the 2006 exposure of the drunken chaos at places like Duke University reveals that athletes of all ethnicities get themselves into ridiculous situations.

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