The Michael Vick Project

Feb. 2, 2010

“The Michael Vick Project” debuts tonight at 10 pm on BET. I don’t have cable, but I’m hoping to catch snippets – if not entire episodes – on the Internet. If there is true redemption to be shown (the alleged intention of the program), I’d like to see it.

Vick’s interview with Sports Illustrated contributor Dan Patrick was broadcast yesterday in anticipation of tonight’s premiere. Vick’s words, however, were not encouraging:

“People don’t understand how the dogfighting game is played,” Vick said. “What goes on. And how it’s all coordinated. It’s all underground.”

It seems Vick still doesn’t recognize that dog fighting is not a “game.” It’s not a sport to be “played.” Unlike football, it doesn’t involve willing participants. Its “winners” are not rewarded with professional medical attention at the first sign of injury. Its losers do not go home to warm beds, a hearty meal, and the opportunity to live out their lives happily and comfortably.

Dog fighting is torture. The enjoyment that comes from watching is nothing less than sadistic.

Dan asked Vick if he would still be doing it if he didn’t get caught. “That’s the scary thing,” Vick said. “I think about it. I would have continued to put my life in jeopardy. From a distance I would have still been involved.”

I don’t agree. The scary thing, Michael Vick, is not that your life would have been in jeopardy. The scary thing is that senscient beings would still be enduring terrifying agony. They would still face crushing blows to the ground, legs and skulls and jaws explosively shattering with each impact.

They would still be forced to have their skin ripped from their bodies in fights lasting two hours or more. They would still be chained to car axles, outside in freezing temperatures. And they would still be dying by electrocution, hanging, drowning, and infections left untreated from the fights.

I’ve seen the promos for the show. I’ve listened to the intro in which Vick says: “I’m on a mission… to restore my family’s good name.”

My hope is that the mission is accomplished not by edited, polished sound bytes sewn together to create the impression of redemption. Instead, I hope to see genuine, non-mandated action, backed up by words that display a clear understanding of what the tragedy here really is.

-Leslie Smith

If you watch the first episode, please come back tomorrow and post your comments.