Monday, July 23, 2007

Vick agonistes

I watched, with a certain degree of vicious satisfaction, the announcement of Michael Vick's indictment as it ran for roughly six years on ESPN's ticker. Like the dogs that Vick allegedly tortured and made vicious, my own moral satisfaction ran amok. I have very, very limited reserves of compassion for petulant multi-millionaire jocks -- remember Vick giving the finger to the home crowd? -- but it looks like the sporting world has already convicted the embattled Falcons quarterback.

As I've said, I have little patience with rich, spoiled athletes. Anybody who bitches about being "underappreciated" while making millions of dollars a year is a greedy jackass. And the entire Indiana Pacers organization seems to be riven by pissy, short-tempered people. Imagine: the only office Christmas party when you can get decked by Ron Artest! (Which would still be better than listening to his CD.) Or what about those idiots who get drunk/coked-up/ptomaine poisoned from drunken, coked-up eating contest before the Super Bowl/World Series/Roller Derby? These guys should repeat the following at least five times a day: "I'm getting paid millions of dollars to play a freaking game. This is great!"

Of course, the reason that so many professional athletes (and their collegiate analogues) act like such morons is that they have been handed the world on a platter at the age of 19 or so. The guys -- and make no mistake, 99% of the folks we're talking about are guys -- who are going to star in Division I sports and maybe go pro know how talented they are. They've been told how talented they are for years. It is the sudden shock of getting that scholarship or signing that fat contract; the ugly, subconscious realization that hey, there are people here who can run as fast as I can that fuels the manic self-confidence necessary to maintain their impossibly glorified self-images.

So they act out. Pacman Jones. Tank Johnson. The nasty, racist granddaddy of them all, Ty Cobb. Closer to home, Pierre Pierce. I am a god; I have the power, these animals or men or women are entirely subject to me.

And sportswriters are ready. There's nothing more Pulitzer-worthy than the story of a glorious warrior's downfall; his armor tarnished by the stains of failure and rampant ego. The unsilent story of an anti-hero, with apologies to Gay Talese.

I don't know if Michael Vick did horrific things to dogs. But if he did, it's simply another example of ego without a leash.

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