We've seen this before around here, only this time it's basketball player Stephon Marbury who lamented that Michael Vick was being charged with the sport of dog fighting while others kill Bambi for sport and get away with it.
Marbury didn't exactly use the Bambi device (that's mine). Marbury was actually quoted as saying
"I think it's tough," Marbury said, according to Albany TV station Capital News 9. "I think, you know, we don't say anything about people who shoot deer or shoot other animals. You know, from what I hear, dogfighting is a sport. It's just behind closed doors."
Marbury has already backed off the contention when he said Vick "should be punished" and stating that his comments should be put "in the right context."
"It is not uncommon for my comments to be misconstrued in the media," the Knicks point guard wrote in a statement released by the team. " ... What Michael Vick did was wrong and he has admitted his guilt. He should be punished. However, he should be given a second chance as others have received for more serious crimes."
Anthony Brown dealt with the dog fighting as sport in a essay Blood Sports are Savagery, not Fair Competition that appeared on MVN.com. You an find it here.
Greg Hansen, columnist for the Arizona Daily Star points out that "the deer that are killed are not left to rot in the forest. They are harvested very carefully and subsequently find their way to dinner tables everywhere." He adds "Deer hunting can be and often is a dangerous endeavor. But unlike dog-fighting, it is not inherently a malicious one."
Like Marbury, I'm a kid from the inner-city. Hunting is not part of my cultural DNA. I've known and befriended hunters and talked with them about the activity. I sort of get it that there is an ethic about hunting that is absent from dog fighting and other so called blood sports.
I also understand that maybe that sense is beyond Marbury's and Clinton Portis' experience. I suspect their real beef is that Michael Vick may be banned from football for life. As athletes who committed their lives to their sport, they must empathize with Vick on that one.
They would argue that ability alone should be the sole determination of an athlete's right to play. What society is telling them through Ookie and Pacman and others is that more is expected than ability. It's a cool idea not to offend paying customers, both fans and sponsors. I'm not sure they like that.
Stephon shouldn't worry. The NFL forgives quick. Michael Vick will play again somewhere. There is one team that has always been a haven for social misfits with a bad boy image. If that JaMarcus Russell kid doesn't work out, Michael Vick could just fit the bill for the Oakland Raiders in three years or so.