Postgame Spread
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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

You're the dog now, man!    

The sportspeak world is all a titter this morning over news that Mike Vick has indeed been indicted for running a dog fighting ring. A few deets:

1) It's called "Bad Newz Kennels", which is hilarious. Photoshopped company logo, anyone? Please?
2) They killed teh dags in pretty brutal and wildly inefficient ways, like drowning and hanging and electrocuting and stuff. Seems Vick is more a student of Cristal than Kristallnacht.
3) Joey Harrington - your suspension is revoked! All Hail Joey Harrington!!!
4) If convicted, he could face up to 6 years. Which will never happen, but still.

Anyway, i figured we need a place to discuss this, and will gladly play McLaughlin for now.

Issue #1!
Is there a crime more damaging to an athlete's public image than dog fighting?


  • Seriously- I would have said rape, but look at Kobe. I'd have said murder, but look at Ray Lewis. Maybe kiddierape? Serialized hate crimes? Treason?

    By Blogger Alex, at 10:32 AM  

  • Well, a lot of people believe Kobe is innocent and that the woman was just trying to take him for his money, so that's why that didn't tarnish him so much. Can't explain the Ray Lewis thing, though I imagine it also has to do with a veneer of deniability. Vick is directly implicated in all this stuff, and the only question is directly involved he was.

    There is something unique about true animal cruelty that feels pretty uncomfortable. A child molester would get it worse, but Ruben Patterson's charge of third-degree-attempted-rape of his young babysitter (14-15, I think) isn't clear-cut enough for the American public. It's gotta be someone who undeniably looks like a child, or you'll have some people up in arms.

    When I thought it was just dog fighting, I didn't care very much. But the level of cruelty to the animals is pretty creepy. Anyway, I think Vick could still escape this thing, depending, but if people really imagine him drowning and electrocuting dogs himself, and the feds prove it, that could be the death knell. We'll find out soon enough.

    So far, I guess I have to agree, this might be the most damaging we've seen. But I think if you found a pretty clear-cut rape or murder that people agreed some player was definitely guilty of, you'd see a similar reaction.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 11:45 AM  

  • I think having to know the practical details of how a dogfighting ring operates makes this potentially less damaging. People who only know the hearsay details of the case are able to think "huh, dogfighting... I dunno, sounds kinda mean" and dismiss the gravity of what Vick is responsible for.

    Dogfighting also isn't your everyday felony. It's not every day that you come up with a dogfighting scandal. People haven't got prejudices lined up, like they may have for a sexual assault charge or a DWI or something.

    But on the other hand, it really REALLY looks like he's guilty. Like Jesse said, there's reasonable doubt in the Kobe case. None of us were there. Same with the Ray Lewis case; alternate explanations are possible. What's the explanation here? What possible explanation could he have for 50 strangled dog skeletons and a shitload of "rape machines"?

    At this point, it's not even the dogfighting that I have a problem with. It's all the sick shit that made it possible.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 1:09 PM  

  • You're both right with the point that just about ANY crime can be forgiven if even the thinnest veneer of innocence can be maintained (see: Lewis, Ray). That said, I'm not so sure that lack of familiarity with the daily routine of running Bad Newz Kennel will really keep Vick's image intact. I believe that our society has a subconscious and conscious attachment to dogs that defies rationality.

    My primary evidence is pretty thin though- just that, of all the unwritten rules about what you can't show in film that have been challenged and made passe, (flushing toilets, pubes), letting the dog live remains relatively intact. The dog almost always makes it, because the audience will accept nothing less. We don't care if aliens blow up the Empire State Building, killing everyone inside, so long as Fido survives the aftermath (ID4). I think the same mindset could come into play here- we can forgive violence against other people, but not against animals. Silly? Sure. Hypocritical? Sure. But still there? I think so.

    By Blogger Alex, at 1:33 PM  

  • The nation's Barbaro obsession certainly speaks to that. He and Reagan have been the two biggest funerals of the decade.

    But yes... you are right that I didn't consider the pet love angle when considering the default reaction of folks who don't know the details. It's just as easy to think "I wove my wittwe doggie" as it is to think "dog-fighting doesn't sound so bad," or "pit bulls are fuckers anyway." Being more of a cat person (despite the allergies) my mind never went in that direction, but it's definitely there. So I'd buy that.

    I'll also point out, related to the veneer-of-innocence line of thinking, the premeditation of the dogfighting ring. Vick's crimes concern cold-blooded, calculated cruelty towards captive canines. Whereas the alleged crimes of our points of comparison, Kobe and Ray Lewis, came about in the heat of the moment. Not to defend those two by any means... just to say the premeditation of Vick's apparent crime could come back to bite him. Kobe and Ray Ray can at least be like "it got out of hand, I made a mistake, blah blah blah." How does anyone defend Vick on those grounds?

    By Blogger Jeff, at 2:09 PM  

  • Seeing all those dead dogs in Amores Perros is still one of the most visceral, memorable things I've ever come across in a movie. And the dogfighting in that movie was really intense. I love dogs. But I still didn't care about this story at all until I read the details.

    Dogfighting I think Vick can skate on, in the court of public opinion. How guilty they can prove he is of directly killing all the reject-dogs, and how much people actually learn about all that, I think will settle the fate of his reputation.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 2:19 PM  

  • Jeff, yeah, the premeditation is key, and even more the repetition. They did that shit over and over again. Very direct, real cruelty. He's probably d-u-n, the more I think about it.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 2:23 PM  

  • my quick n' dirty (and tasteless) logo:

    apologies to picasso and rembrandt

    By Blogger rusch, at 1:19 AM  

  • Is that a herpes sore on his lip?

    By Blogger Alex, at 9:09 AM  

  • side note---

    speaking of visceral, memorable scenes in movies, I finally saw Pan's Labrynth a couple nights ago. The scene towards the beginning where the Captain smashes the dude's face in with a wine bottle was unbelievable. I'm still pretty shaken by it, and I'm someone who LOVES graphic violence in films (see Violence, A History Of). Did that bit hit any of you as hard as it hit me? I was like shaking for 10 minutes afterward.

    By Blogger Alex, at 9:13 AM  

  • How can you apologize to Picasso and Rembrandt but not the rest of us? Screw you man. That stunt has cost you fifty Jeffbucks.

    I think Pan's Labyrinth was traumatizing for everyone. It's a Schindler's List in Neverending Story's clothes.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 9:49 AM  

  • Jeff, he told you he made a tasteless logo for a famously cruel dog-fighting kennel, you looked at, and you're mad at him? I didn't like it any better than you did, but I knew I shouldn't have looked.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 12:16 PM  

  • sorrys!
    ...and if you ever have too much sunshine in your life, just do a Google Image Search for "pit bull fight". Jeezus.

    By Blogger rusch, at 4:47 PM  

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