The deference once shown to the stars of America’s favorite pastime has given way to widespread cynicism when records are shattered, especially since Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa engaged in a spirited race in 1998 to break Roger Maris’s single-season record of 61 home runs, a chase that gripped the country with excitement.
In a bid to remove clouds of suspicion chronicled in the book Game of Shadows, Major League Baseball commissioned the “Mitchell Report”. While baseball is not the only sport facing problems, it’s the only sport so invested in an image of sweet American innocence.
Should a man, having paid his debt to society for a crime he says he regrets, be forbidden from resuming a career at which he excels; a career for which his crime in no way disqualifies him (in the way that an embezzlement conviction might disqualify an accountant)?This is the question National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell will have to answer when Michael Vick files his reinstatement papers.The former star quarterback with the Atlanta Falcons was released on May 20 from the Leavenworth, Kan., prison where he served nearly two years for his role in bankrolling and participating in a dogfighting ring.Until his sentence is up July 20th, Vick will be under federal surveillance at home while he works a $10-an-hour construction job and pursues reinstatement in the NFL where big bucks are usually a sure bet.In a country where atonement for transgressions and redemption are popular religious themes, the gifted NFL running and passing quarterback is seeking absolution from one of his harshest critics: the Humane Society of the United States. In a blog posting, Wayne Pacelle, CEO for the Humane Society of the United States, announced that the group would work hand in hand with Vick to help eradicate dogfighting among youths.“If this is simply a self-interested ploy to rehabilitate his image or return to football, we will find out soon enough, and we will repudiate it. But if Michael Vick is sincere, then we can, we must, use his story to advance our broader mission—saving lives and ending dogfighting,” Pacelle said.Now that Michael Vick has served his prison sentence and secured the endorsement of the Humane Society, do you think the NFL should re-instate him?
The United States is just across the lake, of course, and on clear days you can almost see it – a sort of line, a sort of haze…Strange, and more dangerous – that much is clear – and maybe because of that superior. Margaret Atwood, The Robber Bride
In his book Star-Spangled Canadians: Canadians Living the American Dream, journalist Jeffrey Simpson chronicles the lives of Canadians who have left their homeland to display their talent on the world’s biggest stage.