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Soc 120 - Michael Vick: Any Integrity?

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Michael Vick: Any integrity?

Dustin Bateman

SOC 120

Professor Kay Green


According to the textbook; Thinking Critically about Ethical Issues, by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero ethics is the study of right and wrong conduct and is based on consequences. Integrity is adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. (Ruggiero, 2007). So in turn, ethical integrity is holding yourself to a higher standard of honesty, loyalty, and empathy. The best way to live your life is by always treating everyone as you would want them to treat you. Now, with all of this being stated, why is it that some superstars and celebrities feel as if they do not have to obey the law? It may be that they are blinded by their gifts and talents. Or it may be that they see themselves above the societal and government laws and regulations. In this paper, I will elaborate and argue both sides of Michael Vick's situation both scornfully and as an interceder.

First of all, I would like to break down the definition of ethical integrity. Ethics is an external system of rules and laws (Brooks and Czimbal, 2010). There are usually rewards to reap when the rules are followed and consequences to face when they are broken. Integrity is an internal system of principles which guides our behavior and the rewards are intrinsic (Brooks and Czimbal, 2010). Skills for Success (Brooks and Czimbal, 2010) states that integrity is a choice rather than an obligation. It also reads that even though influenced by upbringing and exposure, integrity cannot be forced by outside sources. When we are acting with integrity we do what is right - even if no one is watching. Ethical integrity is basically not betraying convictions or moral standards regardless of the consequence it may bring. Steroids have become a major problem for the National Football League (N.F.L.) recently. As a former football player and steroid abuser, I understand, to a certain degree, why athletes would inject human growth hormones. They will help any player that is trying to gain weight and increase strength in a short amount of time. Steroids can also assist someone in losing weight as well. The truth is that they are banned in the National Football League (N.F.L.). Actually, they are not just banned in professional sports all together; they are illegal in the United States of America (U.S.A.). When a player decides to abuse steroids, they are compromising his ethical integrity. He risks losing his job and even incarceration. While they are commonly abused by athletes and bodybuilders as a means to improve their performance and gain muscle mass quickly, do not be misled. Steroids are illegal and banned because they have harmful and potentially fatal effects on the body, and they have been a controlled substance in the United States since 1991(Zaremba, 2010). This is a topic that we would think someone should know better considering the consequences. But in fact, many athletes jeopardize their ethical integrity each time they decide to use a steroid.

A search warrant executed on April 25, 2007 as part of a drug investigation of Vick's cousin Davon Boddie let to discovery of evidence of unlawful dog fighting activities at a property owned by Vick in rural Surry County in southeastern Virginia, with extensive dog fighting facilities (Judd, 2007). There is a great debate and concern when it comes to sports players being held accountable for their ignorance, being oblivious to what is right or wrong because of their cultural background; race and socioeconomic status, and being a regular flesh toting man, not role model; because they didn't ask for that role they just want to play the game (Bradshaw, 2010). Vick paid a hefty price for a crime he said he never even knew was a crime. He later went on to say that it was a momentary lack of judgment, which completely contradicts the fact that he did not think it was a crime. On December 10, Vick appeared in U.S. District Court in Richmond for sentencing, Judge Hudson announced Vick as a "full partner" in the dog fighting ring, and was sentenced to serve 23 months in federal prison. He sacrificed his ethical integrity the moment he began holding dog fights and wagering bets.

So, if upbringing and exposure played a role in Vick's rational, and then maybe I would have some compassion and forgiveness for him. Michael Vick is the second child of four born in Virginia. His mother worked two jobs, obtained some public financial assistance, and had help from her parents, while his father worked long hours in the shipyards as a sandblaster and spray-painter (Jockbio.com, 2007). The family lived in Ridley Circle Homes, a public housing project in a financially depressed and crime-ridden neighborhood located in the East End section of the port city. One resident said that there was drug dealing, drive-by shootings and other killings in the neighborhood, then suggested that sports were a way out and a dream for many (Ress, 2007). At one point, Vick told the Newport News Daily Press that when he was 10 or 11, "I would go fishing even if the fish weren't biting, just to get away from the violence and stress of daily life in the projects" (Ress, 2007). When Michael was born, his hometown was best known for molding drug dealers and gang members. Boddie, his father, was gone more often than he was home while his children were growing up. He bounced around from one job to another after spending almost three years in the army. His mother, Brenda, kept their small three-bedroom apartment immaculate. By junior high, he became a disciplinary problem for his elders and teachers. Between his behavioral issues and his skewed perception of accepted ethical behavior, it is no wonder Michael Vick feels that society owes him something or should allow some grace. Many people think that Vick did not seem remorseful. If he does not think he has compromised his integrity, why would he be? If he was led to believe from childhood that dog fighting is not a crime, how could he explain his actions?

Some critics believe that not enough justice was enforced. In August 2007, hours after Vick pleaded guilty to federal charges in the Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting investigation, the National Football League suspended him indefinitely without pay ( ). One of his conditions upon release on bail he was ordered to comply with random drug testing. He wound up testing positive for marijuana. Shortly thereafter, Vick surrendered



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