I suppose it makes sense. Our country prides itself on being able to impact all aspects of our daily lives. From parenting to health care to love to betrayal, there isn’t a single aspect of our lives that isn’t influenced by a market of what sells and what doesn’t. So why not redemption? Someone once said that the bigger they are the harder they fall, but there’s a addendum to that little bit of wisdom. Because the harder they fall, the more money they can make on their way back up.
In America there is a plain-as-day blueprint for redemption and it is based on two fundamental principles. When you make mistakes as a public figure or sports star the formula for a comeback starts with admitting your fault. Own up to your transgressions (or at least give the perception you’re owning up to them) and be prepared to take some heat.
The second part of the equation is all about performance. Does your movie sell out? Does your T.V. show get huge ratings? Do you win back-to-back NBA championships? The truth is everyone loves a winner, and as long as you are passably contrite, fans almost always tend to flock back. You might even pick a few new ones who see the redemption angle to your personal biography as inspirational.
Yet just because winning and success are practical cure-alls doesn’t make it right or just. Personally, the idea of dog fighting sickens my heart and I have a hard time fathoming how someone could treat an animal like that. I wish that there was someway that I could look into Michael Vick’s heart to know how truly remorseful he is or isn’t. I wish I could know what happened in that hotel room in Eagle, Colorado. I wish be inside the mind of Tiger Woods to know if he was actually sorry for any of the actions that destroyed his family or if he was just sorry he got caught.
But I can’t and I never will. So all I do as a fan of sports is accept that athletes are human beings, that they make mistakes, that they try to redeem themselves for their shortcomings and that when they give an answer to a tough question they are actually being honest. Maybe that’s naive, but I’d rather be an eternal optimist than a corrosive cynic.
Michael Vick was found guilty of a terrible crime to be sure. But he also served his due to society and because of it he’s be given a second chance. So far, just as Kobe did, he’s certainly made he most of it.