Michael Vick's other crime

Late last week, the Philadelphia Eagles signed former NFL QB Michael Vick to a contract. 

It's fair to say that most everybody was offended by Michael Vick and by his illegal dogfighting operations.  After all, didn't even Adolf Hitler love his dog?  Almost everyone has an opinion as to whether or not Vick should be allowed to play football again.  Football fans are very passionate about the subject and with good reason.  And to be honest I am not yet aware of a "dogfighting lobby "  Has anyone come out lately to say "Hey I'm pro dogfighting"? 

After all, aren't team sports an escape for adults?  And especially in economic down times, what is more important than being able to lose yourself for 3+ hours and day dream? 

For the most part, fan sentiment seems to be split into two separate camps:  Either you feel as though Vick committed a terrible cruelty and therefore should not be allowed to play again, or he committed a terrible cruelty and should be allowed to play again, because America is the land of second chances. 

With all due respect, both sides (and most importantly NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell) are missing the more serious crime that Vick committed and was convicted of - Michael Vick ran an illegal gambling operation. 

Pro sports can handle a lot of things.  It can handle a Baltimore Ravens Ray Lewis murder trial.  Pro sports can handle (at least up to a point) drug use and players committing violent acts off the field.  But what no sport can handle is any activity that is detrimental to the fairness or outcome of the game.  Say for example that Vick's mansion in Surry Virginia had never been raided.   And just suppose that Vick had gotten in debt to some organized crime members.   Would the organized crime members have said "That's ok Mike just take your time and pay us"?  No they'd have demanded either their money on the spot or likely they'd have asked Vick to throw a game or more for them. 

While there are no really accurate figures on how much is bet each year in gambling on professional sports, it is said that in 1999, up to $380 billion was bet on sports. This is no small chunk of change and would be a major pay day for any crime family or betting operation. 

Think I'm going overboard here?  That no way this can happen?  Think back to the early days of baseball, the 1919 Chicago White Sox (now known as the Black Sox).  Their 1st baseman, Arnold Gandil, had ties to organized crime.  Gandil talked several of his team mates into throwing games for money, because the team had grown fed up with Sox Owner Charles Comiskey's tightwad ways.   Baseball brought in then US Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis to become the first baseball commissioner.  Landis understood what would happen if any type of organized crime was allowed to creep into pro sports and issued this verdict:

"Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player who throws a ball game, no player who undertakes or promises to throw a ball game, no player who sits in confidence with a bunch of crooked ballplayers and gamblers, where the ways and means of throwing a game are discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball."
Pro athletes are held to a certain standard.  We don't ask too much.  They can commit petty crimes and we will still pay to see them play.  Sports fans pay good money to see their teams.  The average family of 4 who goes to see a pro football game will pay up to $450 per game (including parking and food and drink).  Including pre-season games this comes to $4,500 per year if your team does not go to the playoffs. 

Pro football has a hallowed place in the national psyche.  Dads and sons bond.  More and more women go to games to spend quality time with their men.  A city that has an NFL team often has a certain swagger to it and whatever may be going on that is bad in a person's life, the football fan needs to get away from the realities of life and enjoy that 3 hours or so.  But the fans also need to be assured that whoever wins or loses, the outcome is legitimate.  The Detroit Lions were possibly the worst team in NFL history last year at 0-16, but the fans kept showing up, because they knew that the Lions would at least try and win. 

Who in their right mind would pay $450 for 3 hours to see a game where the outcome was pre-determined by illegal betting rings who were owed money and needed to collect their debts by betting on fixed games?

The fans would never pay for this.  The NFL has a responsibility to the fans.  Commissioner Goodell are you listening?
Late last week, the Philadelphia Eagles signed former NFL QB Michael Vick to a contract. 

It's fair to say that most everybody was offended by Michael Vick and by his illegal dogfighting operations.  After all, didn't even Adolf Hitler love his dog?  Almost everyone has an opinion as to whether or not Vick should be allowed to play football again.  Football fans are very passionate about the subject and with good reason.  And to be honest I am not yet aware of a "dogfighting lobby "  Has anyone come out lately to say "Hey I'm pro dogfighting"? 

After all, aren't team sports an escape for adults?  And especially in economic down times, what is more important than being able to lose yourself for 3+ hours and day dream? 

For the most part, fan sentiment seems to be split into two separate camps:  Either you feel as though Vick committed a terrible cruelty and therefore should not be allowed to play again, or he committed a terrible cruelty and should be allowed to play again, because America is the land of second chances. 

With all due respect, both sides (and most importantly NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell) are missing the more serious crime that Vick committed and was convicted of - Michael Vick ran an illegal gambling operation. 

Pro sports can handle a lot of things.  It can handle a Baltimore Ravens Ray Lewis murder trial.  Pro sports can handle (at least up to a point) drug use and players committing violent acts off the field.  But what no sport can handle is any activity that is detrimental to the fairness or outcome of the game.  Say for example that Vick's mansion in Surry Virginia had never been raided.   And just suppose that Vick had gotten in debt to some organized crime members.   Would the organized crime members have said "That's ok Mike just take your time and pay us"?  No they'd have demanded either their money on the spot or likely they'd have asked Vick to throw a game or more for them. 

While there are no really accurate figures on how much is bet each year in gambling on professional sports, it is said that in 1999, up to $380 billion was bet on sports. This is no small chunk of change and would be a major pay day for any crime family or betting operation. 

Think I'm going overboard here?  That no way this can happen?  Think back to the early days of baseball, the 1919 Chicago White Sox (now known as the Black Sox).  Their 1st baseman, Arnold Gandil, had ties to organized crime.  Gandil talked several of his team mates into throwing games for money, because the team had grown fed up with Sox Owner Charles Comiskey's tightwad ways.   Baseball brought in then US Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis to become the first baseball commissioner.  Landis understood what would happen if any type of organized crime was allowed to creep into pro sports and issued this verdict:

"Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player who throws a ball game, no player who undertakes or promises to throw a ball game, no player who sits in confidence with a bunch of crooked ballplayers and gamblers, where the ways and means of throwing a game are discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball."
Pro athletes are held to a certain standard.  We don't ask too much.  They can commit petty crimes and we will still pay to see them play.  Sports fans pay good money to see their teams.  The average family of 4 who goes to see a pro football game will pay up to $450 per game (including parking and food and drink).  Including pre-season games this comes to $4,500 per year if your team does not go to the playoffs. 

Pro football has a hallowed place in the national psyche.  Dads and sons bond.  More and more women go to games to spend quality time with their men.  A city that has an NFL team often has a certain swagger to it and whatever may be going on that is bad in a person's life, the football fan needs to get away from the realities of life and enjoy that 3 hours or so.  But the fans also need to be assured that whoever wins or loses, the outcome is legitimate.  The Detroit Lions were possibly the worst team in NFL history last year at 0-16, but the fans kept showing up, because they knew that the Lions would at least try and win. 

Who in their right mind would pay $450 for 3 hours to see a game where the outcome was pre-determined by illegal betting rings who were owed money and needed to collect their debts by betting on fixed games?

The fans would never pay for this.  The NFL has a responsibility to the fans.  Commissioner Goodell are you listening?