Monday, July 27, 2009

Sports talk, Rose, Vick, rehab and recognition

Here are my thoughts since these subjects are in the news.

I think Pete Rose should be considered for and voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Here is my reasoning. Yes, gambling and the implications, if not the reality, for throwing a game is rightly considered the greatest enemy to the integrity of the sport. (I would argue that illegal drug use and performance enhancers have overtaken gaming/game throwing to share the greatest threat category, however). So I was certainly in agreement when Pete Rose was banned for life, even though as a fan, I felt the agony along with him of such a finality.

Having said that, however, I have always felt he should be inducted according to his real accomplishments in the sport, minus the punishment he received. Punishing for a wrong doing must logically be separated by a fair minded people from now erasing, shunning or denying what was good and valid in his achievements. If his performance and statistics were achieved because he had clubbed guys on the opposing team on the head before the game, LOL, thus lowering their stats to increase his, of course that would be different. I'm being a little silly in that example just to make a point. Gambling and game throwing, while a severe threat to the sport overall, do not automatically mean either his accomplishments were ill gotten gains either via performance enhancement OR performance degradation of opponents, unless a conspiracy was uncovered where everyone was throwing games in unison. Without such evidence it is obvious that Pete Rose was correctly punished for his proven singular role, but he should still be recognized for his valid and legitimate accomplishments.

This is particularly obvious because after Pete Rose, we now have decades of "asterisk" baseball, where a muddle of baseball achievements will always be questioned because of the years of performance enhancement, such as steroid, usage. This era, by negative example, demonstrate even more the singularity of Pete Rose's misdeed and bad choice. While he committed an error that is considered a grave threat to the sport, the sport itself is now filled with statistics that result from widespread collusion in the use of performance enhancing drugs. This makes what Pete Rose did put in its proper perspective: punishment by banning from the game, yes, but ignoring his legitimate achievements, no. Consider him eligible and be honest in appraising his record and put him in his place in the Baseball Hall of Fame, is my advice.

This makes me think of Michael Vick, as I have thought about him during this week and these past months. Again, as a people, not just sports fans, you must ask yourself one question: Do you believe in punishment followed by a chance at rehabilitation and redemption, or not? Don't be hypocrites. Either you believe in the theory that one punishes according to the crime (and he was given a prison sentence, which he served, fines, loss of his income and job, etc, all as punishment and consequences, such as loss of endorsement opportunities) or you don't. You either believe a fit sentence is adjudicated, served, and then considered completed, or you do not. If you do not that means you don't think anyone can ever be punished enough, and that is a breakdown of both civil and moral code. Secondly, either you believe in rehabilitation and redemption, or you do not. Do not be a hypocrite and say that you are enlightened etc yet you will never trust someone again once he or she had erred. Either you believe in opportunity for redemption, or you do not. If you do not then you seem to fall into a category of considering others (not yourself of course) of being "once stained always stained." Like the hypocrisy of some about punishment, hypocrisy of not believing in redemption is also a breakdown of both civil and moral code.

So I believe that if a team wants to give a chance to Michael Vick, he should be made eligible and allowed to get on with life, consistent with what people SAY they believe about both punishment and rehabilitation/redemption.

Best of luck to both men, and all other people who find themselves in such a situation, and also those in the responsible positions to decide not to be hypocrites.