Recently, the Black Entertainment Television (BET) awards titled Michael Vick as "Sportsman of the year". Of course, this enraged the masses - I don't think anybody is surprised by this. But, there's this thing about the masses. You see, I find that the masses tend not to think about things very much, they like to shoot first and ask questions later. Me, I like to ponder...
If you are so inclined, I highly suggest you have a little look-see at my Dog fighting Dissertation before you continue. It'll at least give you a little bit of an idea of how I tend to look at the world - I like the "why" much more than the "what".
Allow me to preface this whole thing by stating that after some cursory research, I'm a little confused by the BET awards. From the beginning of the BET awards in 2001 until 2009 the award for sports was titled "Male Athlete of the Year" and "Female Athlete of the Year". If you have a look at the winners from those years, you will see that the pool of nominees has been pretty small. This is very interesting to me because as a sports fan I can tell you there is no shortage of exceptionally talented black athletes. I really truly don't get it. Who nominates these people? Do they even watch sports? Where are the college athletes? Football players? Is Derek Jeter the only black man who plays baseball? Is it a politics thing? I dunno.
Then there's the question of exactly how they choose to define "Athlete of the Year". Does it have to be an athlete that is at the very top of their respective sport? Or can it be a wide receiver who only makes the pro bowl once, but is exceptionally involved in the community and is opening a school for the blind next week? I can tell you what *I* think it should be, but I'm the last person on earth who has any right whatsoever to tell Black Entertainment Television how to pick their award recipients.
So on to that name change. I find it very interesting. Why is it now called "Sportsman of the Year" instead of "Athlete of the Year"? According to Dictionary.com, we have two "Sportsman" definitions to work with:
|— n , pl -men|
|1.||a man who takes part in sports, esp of the outdoor type|
|2.||a person who exhibits qualities highly regarded in sport, such as fairness, generosity, observance of the rules, and good humour when losing|
I personally find that this change in name for the award is quite significant. Especially if we assume the latter definition. Should we make that assumption? Hell, I don't know - but let's do it anyway.
Here it comes... are you ready for it...?
*I* think this change in name is probably the one thing that makes a reasonable argument FOR Vick getting the award.
SETTLE DOWN! Let me tell you why.
Did Michael Vick do some disgusting, terrible, hurtful things? Yes, he absolutely did. It doesn't particularly matter why he did them in this case - he did them. The question is sportsmanship, and as an avid football fan I can tell you that from where I sit and what I have seen he has been a pretty stellar sportsman this past year.
When Vick came to play for Philly he brought a LOT of distraction with him. I find he clearly recognized this and (I firmly believe he had help in this) he also recognized that the best way to do good by his team was to shut up, put his head down, and play his heart out. And that is EXACTLY what he did. He shut up, showed maturity (my gut tells me he has Tony Dungy to thank for this), and worked his ass off. That's what a good sportsman does, he takes responsibility for his mistakes and works his ass off to help his team; he cans the trash talking that hurts his team and just does his job. As far as "Sportsman of the Year" is concerned, I can't say I have too much argument against him.
I understand that a lot of people will hate him forever as a result of what he did, and to some degree I think that's fair. What I think is dangerous is when people have a complete lack of ability to recognize any good someone has done because they don't like them. Arguably, this is the very reason the US government is such a joke right now - everybody hates everybody and that means that nobody is even going to consider trying to compromise. Life is not all black and white, people are not infallible, and forgiveness doesn't only help the forgiven.
The real question, for me, is whether Vick will still deserve to be called "Sportsman of the Year" next year. After a great 2010 season Vick has two options (assuming the NFL players and owners can find a way to get along) - Recognize that working hard, staying humble, and acting like an adult has gotten him where he is and continue to follow that road OR take his success for granted, start strutting around like an idiot peacock and throw it all away. It's up to him, and I for one am very interested in seeing which path he chooses. I'm rooting for him, and I can confidently say I will be the first one to tear him apart if he makes the wrong choice.
As for the BET awards. Well, I can't say I put much stock into them. The system seems to be very flawed, and not very representative of the huge pool of exceptionally talented black athletes out there, which I happen to think is a shame. So, in the end, I'd have to say I just plain don't much care about them.
How's that for an anticlimactic finish?
So, there you have it, my two cents.
In other news....
Mendel got Reserve Winners Dog at the Kettle Moraine Kennel Club show on Saturday and I'm working on a tough to write post. I don't know how long it will take me to write, but I'll get there. :)