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Has Michael Vick divided the Eagles' fanbase despite his early success?


Former superstar quarterback. Convicted and jailed for runningMichael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles speaks at a press conference at the NovaCare Complex on August 14, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Vick signed a one-year contract, with a second year option, with the Eagles. a dogfighting operation.

Now, running the Eagles offense after the proposed starter was injured. The start of just another football season in Philadelphia?


The offensive line might be so porous that Kevin Kolb would be destroyed if he played in front of it for too long. So, the seasoned, fleet, Michael Vick was inserted. Any public relations decisions about Vick's past were handled last season, so this was purely a football move. That is probably close to the thought process that Andy Reid  and those who believe they are making decisions with him followed.

But, the installation of the thirty-year-old Vick as quarterback has some fans conflicted. Most have continued to support a team that Vick just happens to be the newest prominent part of. They do realize, however, that their consent will allow him to continue to rebuild his image in this contract year.

Professional sports organizations used to falsely portray their stars as squeaky clean role models. During recent decades the constant media stream has dulled that fake shine. In this situation the Eagles gambled that their power over the fans was so strong that Vick's background wouldn't matter as long as he was effective. After fifty years of failing to win a championship, the people are still with their Birds. Eagles management must believe that a fan base, which hasn't imposed consequences them for their missteps, wouldn't turn their backs on Vick for his.

Religious people, not sports fans, are generally demeaned for having blind faith in what they believe, but can't see. In the modern world of professional sports no believes in what they can't see, they choose to believe what is right in front of their eyes.

Sports fuses a shared culture between people who are different. We generally root for whoever is on our team because the organization's emblem is more powerful than the player. But, the ever growing influence of sports has morphed into an instrument that carves new commandments for a culture of fans to accept. Consider the consequences of not remaining loyal to your team.

The Eagles believe that their fans will remain devoted to their team. Regular Lincoln Financial Field: http://www.nflstadiumscentral.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/lincolnfinancialfield.jpgservices will be held at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday's, Monday's, and Thursdays during the late summer through winter months. Check the bulletin for exact times. Pastor Reid presiding.

We have been openly cheering our athletes regardless of skin color, or country of origin, for generations. But, it wasn't always that way. In the early part of the past century, many who played for our teams brandished strong European last names. They were cheered by those of a similar ethnicity and only later by everyone else. Players of that era helped to mainstream people's feelings about ethnic stereotypes and helped soften societal attitudes towards another important development, race relations.

Racial integration in professional sports began to take full effect in the mid-part of the last century. Jackie Robinson's baseball career and his life are honored through his major league-wide retired number forty-two. The inclusion of African-American and Latin athletes was smoothed, in large part, because of Robinson.

Think of how diversified the roster of the team on the other side of the street, the Phillies, is right now. That stadium sells out because of what those men have accomplished on the field. No one refers to the European-American second baseman, the African-American first baseman, or the Panamanian catcher. Those types of terms don't apply, because they don't matter to the fans. They are rooting for their guys, on their team.

Sports has fueled quiet social revolutions through the playing of childhood games. Often times, more effectively than a government passing and then imposing laws. It may well be our most embraced and effective method of social change. But, it can also cause us to gloss over other serious issues simply because “our guy” is important to the team.

So, what does Michael Vick's new prominence mean? Supporters of animal rights may never warm to the cold, inexcusable, actions he was convicted of and served time for. But, if he wins and remains a good citizen, most people will continue to focus on the here and now. Fans won't have created the message that there are no permanent consequences for selected people's actions, but they will have enabled that idea to be spread.

Vick represents an experiment at quarterback for a football team and in the continuing stretch of what society accepts from its opinion leaders. This is a different type of question than has been asked of Eagle fans previously. He will inspire kids to split the defense, by his play on the field. He may also encourage them to pull themselves away from bad influences by his community efforts off it.

Hopefully children and adults don't think that they can act as Vick did and then have someone hand massive opportunity back back to them. Fans should never forget that they don't get to live by the same rules that their sports heroes do.

Andy Reid's unexpected strategic change reinforces the standard that celebrities' lives shape our culture.

Contact Sean O'Brien at seanboru68@yahoo.com

Vick Photo by (Larry French/Getty Images North America)

Lincoln Financial Field photo: http://www.nflstadiumscentral.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/lincolnfinancialfield.jpg