Monday, August 17, 2009

A little tolerance

Sometimes channel surfing can be instructive.

I was doing exactly that Monday morning when I stumbled across a discussion about the Michael Vick signing by the Eagles among a host and two guest commentators on Fox News. (Note to some interested parties: I have not removed Fox News from my channel selections, although I can't say I watch it much.)

What was fascinating was the dynamic of the conversation. Feel free to take a look at some or all of the video, which someone posted at YouTube today.

As you can see, Megyn Kelly was in no mood to have two people on opposite sides discuss their views fairly. She jumped in to make it a two-on-one discussion. I don't know if this is standard procedure for her, but it struck me as a less than fair and balanced interview technique. The Eagles probably aren't quaking over the financial losses that will take place because a TV anchor from another city says she won't support the team financially any more.

The clip does raise a larger matter, though, when it comes to Vick. The Eagles quarterback can't be defended for what he did in the dogfighting operation. He spent two NFL seasons in jail. He has lost tens of millions of dollars in salary and endorsements. Vick appears to have shown remorse for his actions. He also received supplemental discipline from the league, as he'll miss the first few weeks of this season.

The question comes to down this: Is that enough punishment? And that's a question we struggle to answer as a society, particularly in sports.

There's a certain "one and done" mentality when it comes to mistakes by those in the public eye. No one is saying that we'd welcome such people as John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer into their former spots in the political arena. On the other hand, few would throw them out like bathwater and prevent them from making some sort of living.

Does the same apply to sports? You can talk about sports figures being role models all you want, but it's tough to know whose standards we use to disqualify someone from a livelihood. Do we kick Vick out of the league now, and let Dante' Stallworth -- who killed a pedestrian while driving drunk -- come back in a year?

Second chances may not be popular with some, but some of the principles involved in them certainly have a tradition in our culture. If we can't let our public figures make mistakes, how will they ever learn anything? And do the concepts of tolerance and forgiveness matter as much these days as they used to matter?

If that weren't enough, let's throw in one last point. You might approve of the general concept of Vick being allowed to play somewhere after serving his time. Having him play on your favorite team might be a different story. In other words, I just don't know how comfortable I'd be having him on the Buffalo Bills.

This stuff certainly is a maze of ethics and emotions. I just don't want people like Megyn Kelly helping me navigate through it.

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