Sandra Kobrin has a piece in Women's eNews that will get you thinking even more deeply about the Michael "Dogslayer" Vick episode.
It turns out, according to Kobrin, that for years star athletes have been getting off with wrist-slaps, or no professional penalties at all, for beating their wives and girlfriends. She cites a roll call of NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball players who have been arrested and convicted on domestic violence charges with few or no league consequences. Jason Kidd of the New Jersey Nets, for instance, pleaded guilty to spousal abuse and was not punished by the NBA. Ron Artest of the Sacramento Kings was suspended for 72 games for fighting with fans, but got a mere two-game suspension and a $600 fine (that's chewing-gum money in the NBA) after pleading guilty to a domestic violence charge. Adam "Pacman" Jones of the NFL's Tennessee Titans was suspended for the 2007 season after a series of arrests, most recently a bar brawl in which he bashed a stripper's head against the ground, according to Kobrin. But the NFL has yet to suspend any players who have been convicted of domestic violence, of whom there have been many.
What it comes down to is that dogs outrank women when it comes to teams penalizing athletes for acts of abuse.
My guess is that this is news to you. It was news to me.
One likely rejoinder to this observation is that domestic violence is a personal (read: unrelated to athletics) matter, and that the proper place for its consequences is in the courts.
But just a moment. Abuse of dogs is not a team-related infraction. Nor is fighting in bars and giving head-bashings to strippers. And yet in these cases teams feel compelled to add their own punishments on top of a judge's or jury's verdict. They do so, quite reasonably, because these acts reflect on a player's character and on the reputation of the team.
So how, exactly, does a 200- to 300-pound athlete's beating the stuffing out of his wife or girlfriend rate exemption from this moral calculus?
Anyway, read Kobrin's piece. It adds an entirely new dimension to the Vick case.
Thanks to Karla Scott for the tip on Kobrin's article.