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What Can We Learn From Michael Vick? Should Professional Sports Hold Athletes To Higher Standards?

Posted by: Dr. Granat on August 18, 2009

   Michael Vick’s return to the National Football League has sparked much debate and a great deal of controversy.

       Some people believe he has paid his debt to society and that he  should be given a second chance at rebuilding his life and getting on a more positive path.  He could become a powerful spokesperson for animal rights if he proves to be sincere in his plans.

        Other people feel that what he did was so barbaric that he should have nothing to do with the National Football League.  They feel that Michael Vick is too evil to be in the limelight earning a million dollar salary.

          The people who want him banned from football feel that playing in the NFL is a privilege and an honor and the league should set a positive example for the public and for young athletes and exclude him from football forever.  

          The Michael Vick case reall does raise  some interesting questions.

        For example, should  athletes be  held to a higher  moral standard in our society or should  they simply be required to  follow the laws of the land like the rest of us are required to do?


        While sports get a lot of media attention and fan attention and dollars,  presently, they do not set a great moral example for society.  Steroid use, violent behavior by athletes and substance abuse have tarnished the image of American sports.

         And I am not certain if this is the role of professional sports in our society.

         So far, the professional leagues do not seem ready to set standards which are different from the rules and guidelines put forth by our legal system.

           I don’t expect this policy to change any time soon.   However, it would be interesting and perhaps beneficial to see a professional league set higher standards for their personnel.  

            Strict penalties for undesirable behavior and required community service for all professional athletes would help to attract more fans and more young people to sports in America.

      A higher standard of behavior for athletes could also enable sports to have a more positive and profound impact on our society.  

        I would hope that league officials and commissioners give this idea some thought.

        There is some great public relations awaiting the first sport to take this positive step.

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a Psychotherapist and the Founder of

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