Author Archives: bfreitag27

The Hockey Boys

“Dude did you just see my dangle out there on that bender?” To someone outside of the hockey community these words sound like someone had a few too many at the bars. However, to the hockey community these words make perfect sense. Different groups seem to have different meanings to words. They all have their slang words, and their meanings to common words such and dangle or bender. I have been a part of the hockey community since I was three years old. I know most, if not all of the slang words that us hockey guys use. To many people, even parents, we probably sound like idiots; however, we actually just have our own language

            Common hockey words include biscuit, tendy, twig, siv, top shelf, bender, dangle, scrap, garbage, etc. Even penalties can be considered to be hockey language. For example, spearing, interference, delay of game, etc. all of these worlds have different meanings than in a normal life situation. Ten years ago these, I don’t recall ever using some of the slang words, but it seems that as hockey advances more words come up. You can pretty much say that our English language, because we don’t use words such as thou or thy anymore.

            Most of the hockey slang words have obvious meanings. For example a twig is a hockey stick. Because hockey sticks used to be made out of wood, we call them twigs. We often use twig when we ask “Hey bud is that a new twig?” Others are more difficult to define; like bender. A bender is a player who basically is bad, or can’t skate. It originates from when people begin to skate, their ankles tend to bend in. We often use bender when we are trying to talk smack out on the ice by saying “You better tape up those ankles you bender! I was skating all over you!”  A biscuit is a hockey puck. From the bench, we often tell our teammates to “Shoot the biscuit!” Tendy and siv refer to the goalies. A tendy is a goalie, while a siv is a goalie that lets a lot of goals in. Tendy comes from the word goaltender, which is the official name for a goalie.  Someone who uses these words may say, “That tendy is a siv. Everything is going in.” Probably the most common of all hockey words is dangle. It seems like in today’s era of hockey, more players are doings more moves. When a player pulls of a sweet move or juke with the puck, it is called a dangle. This word comes from when someone dangles something out in front of you, then quickly pulls it back; however, in hockey you make the defender think he will take the puck from you, then quickly move the other way.

            As hockey continues to evolve, more and more words will arise. In return, some words will be discarded. Every group has their own “secret” language. The hockey language is unique because of the fact that for each word there is a root to it.


Response to Nakamura

“Technology of the Internet offers participants unprecedented possibilities for communicating with each other in real time, and for controlling the conditions of their own self-representations in ways impossible in face to face interaction” (Nakamura). Lisa Nakamura wrote this in her article titled Race In/For Cyberspace: Identity Tourism and Racial Passing on the Internet to illustrate how easy it is for one to portray an “image” of their self on the web, however, this image might be a complete false identity. To Nakamura, this technology is abused because people use avatars to go on a “vacation” from themselves and their particular race. She makes a compelling argument, to which I stand by because people playing games like LambdaMOO may all be “passing” as a certain gender or race because it is impossible to tell if the character online matches the player in real life. Also because many players in the gaming community take part in identity tourism, to which results in stereotypical behaviors of certain races. Last because man people who play games like LambdaMOO play the game to get away from reality or to vacate from their real life race or gender and play out another race or gender.
In Nakamura’s article she says “it can be said that everyone who participates [in LambdaMOO] is ‘passing’ as it impossible to tell if a character’s description matches a player’s physical characteristics.” This is true not only in LambdaMOO but also in online chat rooms and other online social interaction mediums. Unless one meets someone face to face, they can’t be certain that their online description is true. People post online what they want society to see; rather that what might be actually true. For example, on Facebook, people post edited pictures or even pictures of themselves years back. Also people worry about what photos they are “tagged” in because they want to make sure they look a certain way. They do this to look younger, or more appealing to society. I even am guilty of this, but what Nakamura wants to get at is the fact that some users, in her case in LambdaMOO, take advantage of this false identity and associate their character with certain races. As a matter of fact, players who describe their character as Asian, African American, Latino, or other minorities, engage in hostile game play because they do what the character do in real life (Nakamura). She also states how even though LambdaMOO does not mention race in their self-description, race is often assumed based on certain characteristics like hair and eye color. For example, she says how players with blue eyes and brown hair will be considered white in the absence of a racial description. If the user chooses not to include a racial description, he/she will be considered white because most Internet users are white, male, highly educated, and middle class (Nakamura). That is a form of stereotyping even though it is based on demographical evidence of Internet users. This also moves us towards Nakamura’s idea of identity tourism and what types of behaviors result.
Perhaps Nakamura’s central point is her idea of identity tourism, and how it results in stereotypical behaviors. Identity tourism is when a player chooses to take on a different identity by role-playing through a particular race or gender. These players are often white and they play out male Asian samurai characters (Nakamura). This is partly due to the samurai warrior fantasy stemmed from entertainment and media like Mortal Combat and Street Fighter (Nakamura). As I stated earlier, role-playing through certain race leads to stereotypical behaviors like playing hostile when portraying minority races. Identity tourism leads to the fact that players role-play to take a “vacation” from their race or gender.
In online communities such as LambdaMOO, players who spend their time role-playing a different representation of themselves are really taking a vacation. While it isn’t a typical vacation to the Bahamas, it still is a vacation from reality or from oneself. It is a cyber vacation. To highlight this idea of vacation from oneself, Nakamura says
“The fact that Lambda offers players the ability to write their own descriptions, as well as the fact that players often utilize this programming feature to write stereotyped Asian personae for themselves, reveal that attractions lie not only in being able to ‘go’ to exotic spaces, but to co-opt the exotic and attach it to oneself (Nakamura).”
In other words, players use the description feature to create a stereotypes false identity, like an Asian samurai warrior, to be able to take a vacation to a different race or gender. These users exploit certain cultures for recreation (Nakamura). Also there are distinct actions of Asian female personae in LambdaMOO. These characters are often played by men who seek out “netsex” from other players of both genders (Nakamura). Nakamura defines the action of men playing out females as “computer cross dressing.” Some names of computer cross dressers include: AsianDoll, Bisexual_Asian_Guest, Michelle_Chang, and MaidenTaiwan (Nakamura). Names like MaidenTaiwan and Michelle_Chang are very stereotypical to Asian culture, and they also seem to be mocking or poking fun at Asian culture; however, names like AsianDoll and Bisexual_Asian_Guest seem geared towards virtual sex or “netsex.” Players who vacate to this particular false identity describe themselves as mystical and beautiful. A white American man living in Japan described his Asian female character named Geisha_Guest as
“a petite Japanese girl in her twenties. She has devoted her entire life to perfecting the tea ceremony and mastering the art of lovemaking. She is multi-orgasmic. She is wearing a pastel kimono, 3 under-kimonos in pink and white. She is not wearing panties, and that would not be appropriate for a geisha. She has spent her entire life in pursuit of erotic experiences” (Nakamura).
This description is based on a sexual Asian female fantasy and is clearly meant to be sexual. As Nakamura later stated, this obsession with Asian females and other races as sexual figures extends farther than LambdaMOO in groups like “alt.sex.fetish.orientals” (Nakamura).
Clearly identity tourism is the stem of Nakamura’s article. All of her points are based off the idea of escaping ones true identity and acting out another. Her argument is strong because of the fact that players “pass” as another identity and there is really no way of knowing their true identity other than face to face communication, players make use of identity tourism and act based on racial stereotypes, and players use other race to take a vacation from reality and themselves.


Michael Vick: An Idol? More like a Criminal

Nothing can justify what Michael Vick did. Michael Vick also can never make up for what he did. In the encounter “Michael Vick an Idol,” Vick was said to have a positive representation on America and American culture. While some points may be absolutely positive, the encounter lacks a negative representation about fan fascination.            

            It is sad that we as Americans put athletes like Vick on a pedestal because of raw talent. We often times forget about how the player carries themselves off the field. For example, Kobe Bryant was a part of a rape scandal. To stop the negative image, all he had to do was change his number and start winning championships. Also Ben Roethlisberger was a part of a rape scandal. He also was involved in a motorcycle crash. As soon as he starting winning championships, everyone was on the Big Ben bandwagon and praised the man. Now we get to Michael Vick. Vick drowned dogs, beat them to death, electrocuted them, and basically tortured them; however, not that he playing at a high level on the field we are idolizing and praising him? How could people idolize a man who took part in such evil practices? It is because Americans are too fascinated with sports.

            America’s fascination with sports allows fans to idolize these controversial individuals. This may teach children that sports and fame make them untouchable. America’s desperate need for sports is a negative attribute of our culture. All we care about is winning, and if our team wins, we forget the negative events that happened prior. 


Be Like Mike

It all started in Newport News, Virginia on June 26, 1980 when Brenda Vick gave birth to Michael Dwayne Vick. Michael loved sports as a child. His father, Michael Boddie, taught him how to play football at a young age just to stay away from the gangs. Michael’s father wasn’t around much, and when he was, Boddie was often a bad influence. Vick’s father was often high and drunk while around Vick and his siblings. Because of the absense of a father in the house, Michael Vick was the man of the house. While his mom was away supporting the family, Vick would be the one taking care of his brother Marcus and his sisters. They would often play football in the back ally. That is where Vick refined his skills and became the talk of the town.

            When Vick went to highschool, he started quarterback as a freshman. He was electrifying on the field. He put up videogame type stats. His extraordinary play got him scouted by Syracuse and Virginia Tech. Due to the location and the fact that his mother still had to support Vick’s siblings, Michael choose to accept a full ride scholarship to Virginia Tech. At Tech, Vick started quarterback as a freshman. That same year he led his team to the national championship where they unfortunately lost. His play on the field was noticed, earning him a spot as one of the Heisman Trophy finalists. After Vick’s sophomore year at Tech he entered in the 2001 NFL draft. He was selected first overall by the Atlanta Falcons.

            While Vick was playing at Tech, he was the considered the hometown hero in Newport News. Everyone now knew who he was, and everyone wanted to be in his crew of friends. Vick never really cut ties with his childhood friends who weren’t necessarily good influences. Because he never cut ties with these friends, he never abandoned his ghetto roots. Vick lived a double life. He was a football star and a dog fighter. He was even in charge of the dog-fighting ring called Bad Newz Kennels.

            Vick was thought to be the savior of the Falcons’ franchise when he was drafted first overall. Everyone who was a Falcons fan dawned the famous No. 7 Vick jersey. He was like a God in Atlanta. Every Sunday he would keep fans at the edge of their seats because of his football ability. Nike signed Vick to a contract and made him the face of their label. Atlanta later signed Vick to a 130 million dollar contract extension making him the highest paid player in the NFL. Vick had everything he could possibly ask for; however, his life would quickly go down hill and everything he had would vanish.

            In summer of 2007 Vick was under FBI investigation for his alleged involvement in a dog fighting operation. After FBI authorities raided his one of Vick’s houses in Virginia, they found evidence of dog fighting rings, kennels, and even burial sites. Vick has no chance of getting out of this. He decided to plea guilty and serve up to twenty three months in prison.

            During his prison stint, Vick found God and that is what helped him turn his life around. He realized that he had lost everything he had. All he had now was his girlfriend and family. All of his so-called friends were gone, he was out of a job, he was bankrupt, and he was hated by most of the American population. He was now seen as an evil individual. Vick realized all of this. He finally figured out that he needed to change his life around. During his time in prision he met with mentor and former NFL coach Tony Dungy. They would meet for a few hours at a time talking about how Vick could make his life better. Dungy sensed that Vick had finally grown up and felt remorse.

            Luckily, Vick only served eighteen months in prison. Following his release, he teamed up with PETA to speak out against dog fighting. His first goal was to rehabilitate his image. He also wanted to prevent dogs from being hurt and put a stop to dog fighting. While volunteering his time, he also kept in shape to hopefully get another chance at the NFL. After being reinstated by NFL commissioner, he got his chance.

            Surprisingly, the Philadelphia Eagles signed Vick to a two-year deal. He was slotted in as the third string quarterback. After being used sparingly in his first year back, Vicks future looked bleak until in the offseason the Eagles traded away starting quarterback Donovan McNabb. Vick was now the back up behind Kevin Kolb; however, he wouldn’t be backing up long.

            After Kolb suffered a concussion in week one verse the Green Bay Packers, Vick’s opportunity came. Needless to say, he took on the opportunity. He dominated the game, despite a losing effort. The next week he once again started and again was a force in a decisive win over the Detroit Lions. Vick went on a tear in that 2010-2011 season earning him career best stats. He was in the running for MVP and was also selected to the pro bowl. In the summer of 2011 he resigned with Nike and later signed another 100 million dollar contract to stay with the Eagles for six more years. Vick still now considered one of the most electrifying players in the NFL. He also continues to volunteer him time speaking out against dog fighting and being a positive role model for children to idolize him. His life is back on track, and he is once again at the top of the world.


Michael Vick: An Idol

On the surface, one may see Mike Vick as a cruel, sick criminal who should rot in prison; however, he is exactly the same as all of us and he represents what America is all about. My research topic is Michael Vick America. My reaearch paper answers the question, “what Michael Vick says about America and American culture.” Throughout the paper I talk about how Vick relates to specific American trends. One of the main trends on my research paper is that fact that some superstar athletes, including Vick, have overcame so much to get to where they are now and how they never gave up. These athletes had huge successes and failures, but they never stopped fighting, just like the typical American way. Also I talk about how athletics is a way out for many inner city children living around gangs, like Michael Vick was. Michael Vick will be the main athlete I talk about throughout my paper due to his unique journey though life.

Vick grew up in Newport News, Virginia. This community was and still is one with high gang population. In the show The Michael Vick Project Vick said how he would always hear gunfire, and the only way to stay out of the gangs and danger was playing football and keeping occupied. Because of the odds against him, spots fan marveled Vick’s journey to the NFL.

He was a Heisman trophy finalist when he was a sophomore at Virginia Tech, then he went to the NFL draft and was drafted in the first round by the Atlanta Falcons. When Vick went to Atlanta he was seen as a “God.” Everyone praised him for his football abilities. Here was a kid who just overcame a poor childhood who now is at the top of the world. However, he never really cut ties with childhood group who kept and that’s when he starting getting into trouble. His attitude went tanked along with his NFL success and his freedom. He served eighteen months in jail for running a dog-fighting ring. He then went bankrupt and lost one of the biggest contracts in NFL history.  Now Vick was a convict, broke, and out of a job. Also the world hated him. When he left jail he was a changed man; he now had a positive out look on life and took advantage of his opportunity when the Eagles signed him after extensive meeting with NFL commishioner and Eagles owner. In an interview Vick said prison is what made him change. He wanted to be there for his children and he wanted to be the positive icon that so many people looked up to. He is now one of the best players in the NFL. 


Facebook Official

Community is defined by dictionary.com as “a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.” Today, it seems like this definition doesn’t really cover all the aspects of community. Now days, we have social tools such as Facebook and Twitter to interact among friends. These tools also can be used to band people together in seeking out a common goal: like a Facebook Cancer Awareness Page. Community, in today’s sense, extends to these online social networks because there are actual groups of people online who share the same culture and share all of the requirements that a community has.            

            In Malcolm Gladwell’s article titled “Small Change,” his main focus is the fact that social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are ineffective tools used to define ones activism. He labels activism as something you do that you hold a strong tie connection to. Also activism involves some kind of high risk or sacrifice associated with it. For example, in his article he talks about the lunch sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina. What happened was a few African American students sat in at the Woolworth’s lunch joint. This lunch stop was knows to not service African Americans. Because of this, these students refused to leave even when protesters threw objects and taunted at them. To Gladwell, this was activism because these students stood up for themselves and were ready to put up with the consequences. These students were sacrificing something to stand up for what they believed in; however, Gladwell feels that social networking sites don’t promote activism like the sit-ins.

            Within communities around the world, activism occurs. Activism can in be a form of a protest, parade, even a riot. Activism is an attempt to change something. It is what keeps our communities going. If it weren’t for activism, America likely wouldn’t be. Of course Facebook activism is nowhere near the activism of or Founding Fathers, but we shouldn’t ignore social networking. Gladwell is flat out wrong when he compares social network activism to real life activism. He says social networks provide a “weak tie” connection, and to partake in activism you need a “strong tie” connection. He later says that the social network sites are built around these weak tie connections and all they do is make participation easier. While it is easier to just “like” a Facebook page than it is to volunteer time, Facebook allows the message to get out faster and to more people. For example, when a message is posted publically online, especially on Facebook, it is out there for the world to see. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people will see the message rather than a few who attended a protest. These people who see the Facebook page and feel a connection will probably “like” it. This will lead to an online community of people who “like” the same page. 


Artifact 2: Identity Tourism

“Technology of the Internet offers participants unprecedented possibilities for communicating with each other in real time, and for controlling the conditions of their own self-representations in ways impossible in face to face interaction” (Nakamura). Lisa Nakamura wrote this in her article titled Race In/For Cyberspace: Identity Tourism and Racial Passing on the Internet to illustrate how easy it is for one to portray an “image” of their self on the web, however, this image might be a complete false identity. To Nakamura, this technology is abused because people use avatars to go on a “vacation” from themselves and their particular race. She makes a compelling argument, to which I stand by because people playing games like LambdaMOO may all be “passing” as a certain gender or race because it is impossible to tell if the character online matches the player in real life. Also because many players in the gaming community take part in identity tourism, to which results in stereotypical behaviors of certain races. Last because man people who play games like LambdaMOO play the game to get away from reality or to vacate from their real life race or gender and play out another race or gender.
In Nakamura’s article she says “it can be said that everyone who participates [in LambdaMOO] is ‘passing’ as it impossible to tell if a character’s description matches a player’s physical characteristics.” This is true not only in LambdaMOO but also in online chat rooms and other online social interaction mediums. Unless one meets someone face to face, they can’t be certain that their online description is true. People post online what they want society to see; rather that what might be actually true. For example, on Facebook, people post edited pictures or even pictures of themselves years back. Also people worry about what photos they are “tagged” in because they want to make sure they look a certain way. They do this to look younger, or more appealing to society. I even am guilty of this, but what Nakamura wants to get at is the fact that some users, in her case in LambdaMOO, take advantage of this false identity and associate their character with certain races. As a matter of fact, players who describe their character as Asian, African American, Latino, or other minorities, engage in hostile game play because they do what the character do in real life (Nakamura). She also states how even though LambdaMOO does not mention race in their self-description, race is often assumed based on certain characteristics like hair and eye color. For example, she says how players with blue eyes and brown hair will be considered white in the absence of a racial description. If the user chooses not to include a racial description, he/she will be considered white because most Internet users are white, male, highly educated, and middle class (Nakamura). That is a form of stereotyping even though it is based on demographical evidence of Internet users. This also moves us towards Nakamura’s idea of identity tourism and what types of behaviors result.
Perhaps Nakamura’s central point is her idea of identity tourism, and how it results in stereotypical behaviors. Identity tourism is when a player chooses to take on a different identity by role-playing through a particular race or gender. These players are often white and they play out male Asian samurai characters (Nakamura). This is partly due to the samurai warrior fantasy stemmed from entertainment and media like Mortal Combat and Street Fighter (Nakamura). As I stated earlier, role-playing through certain race leads to stereotypical behaviors like playing hostile when portraying minority races. Identity tourism leads to the fact that players role-play to take a “vacation” from their race or gender.
In online communities such as LambdaMOO, players who spend their time role-playing a different representation of themselves are really taking a vacation. While it isn’t a typical vacation to the Bahamas, it still is a vacation from reality or from oneself. It is a cyber vacation. To highlight this idea of vacation from oneself, Nakamura says
“The fact that Lambda offers players the ability to write their own descriptions, as well as the fact that players often utilize this programming feature to write stereotyped Asian personae for themselves, reveal that attractions lie not only in being able to ‘go’ to exotic spaces, but to co-opt the exotic and attach it to oneself (Nakamura).”
In other words, players use the description feature to create a stereotypes false identity, like an Asian samurai warrior, to be able to take a vacation to a different race or gender. These users exploit certain cultures for recreation (Nakamura). Also there are distinct actions of Asian female personae in LambdaMOO. These characters are often played by men who seek out “netsex” from other players of both genders (Nakamura). Nakamura defines the action of men playing out females as “computer cross dressing.” Some names of computer cross dressers include: AsianDoll, Bisexual_Asian_Guest, Michelle_Chang, and MaidenTaiwan (Nakamura). Names like MaidenTaiwan and Michelle_Chang are very stereotypical to Asian culture, and they also seem to be mocking or poking fun at Asian culture; however, names like AsianDoll and Bisexual_Asian_Guest seem geared towards virtual sex or “netsex.” Players who vacate to this particular false identity describe themselves as mystical and beautiful. A white American man living in Japan described his Asian female character named Geisha_Guest as
“a petite Japanese girl in her twenties. She has devoted her entire life to perfecting the tea ceremony and mastering the art of lovemaking. She is multi-orgasmic. She is wearing a pastel kimono, 3 under-kimonos in pink and white. She is not wearing panties, and that would not be appropriate for a geisha. She has spent her entire life in pursuit of erotic experiences” (Nakamura).
This description is based on a sexual Asian female fantasy and is clearly meant to be sexual. As Nakamura later stated, this obsession with Asian females and other races as sexual figures extends farther than LambdaMOO in groups like “alt.sex.fetish.orientals” (Nakamura).
Clearly identity tourism is the stem of Nakamura’s article. All of her points are based off the idea of escaping ones true identity and acting out another. Her argument is strong because of the fact that players “pass” as another identity and there is really no way of knowing their true identity other than face to face communication, players make use of identity tourism and act based on racial stereotypes, and players use other race to take a vacation from reality and themselves.


Artifact 1: Michael Vick and America

Michael Vick. Perhaps that name, more than any other name, instantly creates a debate. Many look at his accomplishments on the field and respect him because of it; however, many people look at his dark side and all of the dogs that he hurt while running a dog-fighting ring called Bad Newz Kennels. So who is this Michael Vick? Is he a ruthless criminal who deserves to rot in prison, or is he this amazing football quarterback who is a human highlight reel? Michael Vick is more than just an ex-inmate or a quarterback, he is an American, and embodies everything it is to be an American. Other athletes have similarities to Vick’s story, but Vick’s story is unique unlike any other athlete’s. Vick tells us so much about America, and American culture. Americans are fascinated with sports and athletic talent, athletics are a way out of poor tough childhoods in America’s projects, the “American Way” is to never give up in achieving your goals, and America is a “land of opportunity” and second chances; Michael Vick represents all of these aspects of America and American culture; he is a sports icon, he grew up in a poor ghetto community where sports was a way out, he never gave up on becoming one of the NFL’s best players, and he was given a second chance to play in the NFL.

America’s Fascination with Sports
America’s Fascination with sports runs deeper than rooting for a team, or playing in fantasy leagues. Athletes are even role models for children. Our fascination is more of a cult following. When we call ourselves fans, we are associating ourselves with a specific group of people who share the same views. Because of America’s fascination with sports, there is the famous Raider Nation for the Oakland Raiders and Wing-Heads for the Detroit Redwings. Although Canadian, there also are the Green-Men for the Vancouver Canucks.
According to The New York Times article “Sports Psychology” by James C. McKinley Jr., avid fans of teams go through the same hormonal and physiological changes when watching games as the actual players do. Self-esteem is among one of the body changes associated with rooting for team. When a fan’s team wins, he or she has significantly more self-esteem and even showed signs of being more optimistic about their sex appeal following a victory (McKinley). Many psychologists have attempted to tackle on why sports can have such an effect on people. One of the theories suggests that rooting stems from a primitive trait from when humans lived in small tribes. The tribe’s warriors were representing their tribe. Arizona State psychology professor Robert Caildini highlighted on this theory by saying, “Our sports heroes are our warriors.” Psychologists like Caildini believe that athletes are the warriors, and fans are the other tribe members (McKinley). These “warriors” are the athletes that children look up to.
Avid fan groups like Raider Nation are known as “highly identified” fans. These fans are more or less die-hards who are not likely to jump ship when their team isn’t performing up to standards. They also insist on their team losing from bad luck instead of the opposing team being better. These also are the fans that experience the body changes during games (McKinley). Some fans are so tied to their teams that sometimes that team is what keeps them moving on through life. That is exactly the case for Gene Hamm who was injured at work and spent months at home. He said that watching New York Mets kept him out of going into depression (McKinley).
Being a fan is partaking in a multimillion-dollar institution by purchasing merchandise of a team of player; however, fans also affect athletic endorsement. Corporations promote their product by paying popular athletes to endorse their label. These athletes are often superstars of their sport, and companies pay them because of their talent. These athletes are also idols to children. Each year, nearly one billion dollars is spent by companies on athletes to endorse products (Athlete Promotions). Companies like Nike, Gillette, and Reebok sign players like Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, and Sidney Crosby to endorse their product because “consumers tend to believe champion athletes” (Athlete Promotions). Meaning that consumers believe that if a successful athlete uses a product, then that product must work well. For example, since Sidney Crosby uses Reebok hockey gear and is successful, consumers tend to believe that Reebok hockey gear will make them successful also.
Now what does have this to do with Michael Vick? Well first, Vick plays one of America’s most popular sports, which is football. He also plays quarterback, which maybe the most recognized position in all of sports; however, since Vick is providing fans with such electric play, the fans continue to root for his success on the field. Due to his success with the Philadelphia Eagles, he is providing fans with the emotional roller coaster that comes with being a fan. Vick’s number seven Eagles jersey was the sixth most popular NFL jersey by the end of the 2010-2011 season (CBS News). It seems that fans tend to forget about off-the-field issues when a player has such success on the field. Winning is everything to fans. When Pittsburg Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, had his off the field issues fans were very skeptical; however, he hushed skeptics due to his ability to win games and championships. Because of Vick’s on the field success, Nike re-singed him in the summer of 2011 after terminating his contract in 2007 because of his involvement in dog fighting (CBS News). Nike said they did this because they support Vick’s rehabilitated image and how he is now a better person on and off the field.
To many, Vick is still seen as an idol and an inspiration. Vick’s game on the football field was described in the ESPN article titled “What if Michael Vick Were White?” as being “so badass, so artistic, so fluid, so flamboyant, so relentless – so representative of black athletic style” (Toure). Many kids, especially in the African American community who see Vick as a heroic figure, try to emulate Vick’s approach to the game. There is no question that on the field, Vick makes superhuman plays; however off the field he has an equally positive effect on America’s youth. Outside of practice and games, Vick voluntarily speaks out against dog fighting. His message hits hard for those who idolize him. A seventeen year old named Morgon Dukes used to fight dogs in the back alley of his Chicago community (Gregory). Dukes noted that when Vick was brought down for his involvement in dog fighting, the fighting in Chicago diminished. The fights stopped when Vick flew to Chicago to speak out about dog fighting to Morgon and other kids at the community center. Morgon Dukes said the fights stopped because, “This [Vick’s message] was coming from Michael Vick, our hero. We felt remorse. We felt sorry”(Gregory). NFL commissioner, Rodger Goodell, recognized that kids see Vick as a role model and told The Philadelphia Inquirer, “We need our kids to see that kind of success story. This young man has turned his life around, and he is going to contribute” (Toure).

Athletics Provide a “Way Out”
Many young boys and girls who grow up in the projects in America see athletics as a way out of poverty and gang life. These young aspiring athletes grow up watching professional athletes like Michael Vick and Torrey Smith, who both came out of the projects, dominate their sport. Because Vick and Smith overcame a tough childhood, these young athletes have hope that they too can make it out of the projects. Often times, sports are the only way out, and the only way to legally make a name for yourself in the projects. A childhood in the projects is a whole different life. Young men and women, sometimes not even teenagers, often have to support their family because their parents aren’t there. While this may mature the child, it also can very much hurt the child. Toure recently wrote an ESPN article titled “What if Michael Vick Were White?” he said,
“Too many [children] are left to define manhood on their own, so they gravitate toward the most charismatic and inspiring men in their world. Sometimes those men are gritty local sports coaches who teach them the value of hard work, but sometimes they’re ghetto celebrities who are unsavory role models with bad habits.”
What Toure is getting at is the fact that often times children turn to ghetto celebrities as their role models. This results in never really getting out of the ghetto lifestyle, which is what happened to Vick until he was sent to prison for dog fighting.
Some young athletes resist the gang life like Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith. Smith’s childhood in Colonial Beach, Virginia was anything but normal. He was the oldest of seven kids, raised by a single mother who worked two jobs and attended night school (Valkenburg). Smith was in charge of basically raising his siblings because his mother was away providing for the family. He was the man of the house at a very young age. Torrey would make microwave meals for dinner and change diapers. He even was nicknamed “The Microwave King.” During his childhood, his mother was constantly poor so Torrey’s future looked bleak; however, he would make it out okay because of football. Smith described his childhood saying, “There were certain times when other kids would be able to go and have fun doing something, and I had responsibility” but Smith loved the responsibility and he said it is something he “would not take back” (Valkenburg). Today, Torrey Smith is one of the best rookies in the NFL. NFL analysis marvel at his speed and talent. They also think he could be one of the best receivers in the game. Smith is vocal about his story because he wants to reach out to “the million others” who are in the same situation he was in (Valkenburg). Some children don’t take the same path at Torrey, but take the ghetto life; however, those who choose to hold on to the ghetto life later realize that it isn’t a good life to hold on to. Michael Vick learned that the hard way.
In Newport News, Virginia, Michael Vick was grew up in a ghetto culture that accepted dog fighting. Vick’s father, Michael Boddie, taught Vick football because it was a way out of the projects (Bleacher Report). Boddie would also be high off cocaine and drunk around Vick and his siblings. He would even set up the garage so Vick could have dog fights (Toure). To get away from the hard project life, Vick said he would “go fishing even if the fish weren’t biting” (Bleacher Report). Even with all of these distractions, Michael Vick shined in athletics.
Vick was given a scholarship to Virginia Tech where he ended up starting as a freshman, and placed third in the 1999 Heisman Trophy race. After his sophomore year he entered the NFL draft where he was drafted first overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001 (Bleacher Report). In Atlanta he was praised for his talent on the field. Everywhere there was number seven Vick jerseys. Nike also recognized Vick’s talents and launched the MV7 product line that consisted of apparel and shoes. In 2005 the Falcons and Vick agreed to a 130 million dollar contract extension, which made him NFL’s highest paid player (Gregory). However all of this wasn’t enough. Vick still kept close ties to his childhood ghetto friends that were bad influences. Michael and his old friends started up a dog fighting operation called Bad Newz Kennels. He would even fly to Virginia on his off days to check on the dogs and keep his ring running (Gregory). When Vick was charged with running a dog-fighting ring and sentenced to 23 months of prison, he finally realized he needed to cut all ties with the gang life and grow up.
Today, Vick is back in the NFL and plays for the Philadelphia Eagles. He is a rehabilitated man. He also happens to be one of the games best players once again. He now helps out ghetto communities by speaking out to stop dog fighting and is a positive role model for kids.

Never Give Up – “The American Way”
The stereotypical American is a tough, rugged individual who is hard working and never gives up. Never giving up is the quintessential American way. This has been America’s outlook on life since Revolutionary times when the Colonists defeated the mighty British for independence. We also see this American outlook in sports, and through sports athletes who never give up in achieving their ultimate goals. These athletes don’t let anything get in their way from poverty, to disease, to even jail time.
Boston Bruins goalie, Tim Thomas, is considered one of the best goalies in the NHL today. He is a recipient of multiple Vezina Trophies, which are given to the NHL’s best goalie. He also won the 2011 Conn Smyth Trophy, which is given to the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs. To top off his collection of hardware, his name is engraved on the Stanley Cup when he led the Boston Bruins to win the 2011 Stanley Cup. However, his journey to the top of the NHL was anything but easy.
Tim grew up in Flint, Michigan where his parents didn’t have much money at all. They did whatever they could to keep Tim in hockey. They even sold their wedding rings to send Tim to goalie camp (Hurley). Thomas put together a decent collegiate career at the University of Vermont and entered the 1994 NHL draft. He was the 217th pick (Hurley). There were nineteen goalies selected before Tim Thomas. Only seven of them made it to the NHL, and two made All-Star teams (Hurley). Due to his unconventional playing style, teams didn’t really give him a chance to play. He bounced around European League and Minor League teams for almost a decade until finally the Bruins gave him a chance in 2006. Tim never looked back and took sole possession of the starting goaltender spot in his second year. At 35 years old, in his third NHL season, Tim recorded a 2.10 goals against average and a .933 save percentage (Hurley). Both of these stats were at the top of the league, earning him his first Vezina Trophy. Due to a hip injury, his 2009-2010 season was a set back and many thought he was a one hit wonder. He lost the starting goalie job and became a backup (Hurley). Just like Tim Thomas has always done, he didn’t give up. The following year his stats were back at the top, earning him another Vezina Trophy, Conn Smyth, and Stanley Cup. Like the “American way” Tim Thomas never gave up. He just kept on pushing to be the best.
One of the best stories of persistence is the comeback of Mario Lemieux. Mario was a superstar of the NHL playing for the Pittsburg Penguins. He is recognized as one of the best players to ever lace up skates. Rocky Bonanno, an NHL.com writer, wrote, “Nothing could stop Mario Lemieux. Not the toughest defensemen, not the best checking lines, not the swiftest forecheckers, not the most innovative coach. Nothing…not even cancer.” In the 1992-1993 season Mario was on record pace for goals and points when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease (Bonanno). Mario ended up winning the battle verse cancer, just like he won every battle on the ice. The night of Mario’s radiation treatment, Mario’s Penguins were facing the Philadelphia Flyers. He rejoined his Penguins that night and scored a goal and recorded an assist in a 5-4 losing effort (Bonanno). He did this after having radiation treatment just hours prior. When the season ended, Mario was right back on top of the NHL in goals with 69 (Bonanno). Like Tim Thomas, Mario kept fighting to get back to doing what he loved.
Prison was what Michael Vick had to overcome in order to make it back to the NFL. Vick didn’t only just make it back to the NFL; he also dominated and is now considered one of the best. In July of 2007 Vick was sentenced to 23 months of prison due to his involvement in a dog-fighting ring (Bleacher Report). Before this conviction, he was living a celebrity life and not taking football or anything seriously. He was a last in, first out player. He was often criticized for “skating on talent alone” (Price). While being incarcerated, Vick met with his mentor Tony Dungy to discuss how to be a better man, father, and athlete. Vick now wanted to do what ever it took to get back on top.
After being released from prison, the Philadelphia Eagles signed him. Vick now found himself watching extensive film, and being a student of the game (Price). He was doing what elite quarterbacks did to become the game’s best. Today he is looked up to by teammates, and he is also been talked about as being one of the games toughest, hardest working players (Price). Teammate Jason Avant described Vick’s story by saying, “We look up to him. The Bible says, ‘The righteous man falls seven times but he gets up again.’ He’s [Vick] getting up and trying, and it’s helping him and helping our team. Guys look at him not as a quarterback; we look at him as an inspiration. We look at him as a guy who has been through hell and back and he’s conquered it” (Price). Vick is one of the most knocked down quarterbacks in the NFL. Almost every play he is on the ground, yet every play gets up and keeps going. He lets nothing get in his way. Not even prison.

New Opportunities and Second Chances
Ever since European settlers discovered American, this land was known as the “Land of Opportunity.” It was where people could sail to and start a new life. It was also a second chance for some. Our prison system even is in place to offer second chances to people who deserve them. We see this same theme in sports: from players getting into legal trouble to players getting traded. There is often always a second chance and a new opportunity to prove yourself as an athlete. This is exactly what happened to Michael Vick. Michael Vick received a second chance at freedom and at the NFL following his stint in prison.
Before prison, Vick was living the dream. He was the highest paid player in the NFL. He had a huge Nike endorsement. He even was on the game cover of Madden 2004 (Gregory). Because he didn’t cut ties with his ghetto roots, he found himself in jail, bankrupt, and unemployed. Everything was taken away from his evolvement in running a dog fighting operation. It took prison for Vick to realize he needed to change. All he needed was a second chance at freedom and at the NFL. Luckily, NFL commissioner, Rodger Goodell, offered Vick a second chance at the NFL when he was released from prison.
Following his release the Philadelphia Eagles gave Vick a second chance to be on an NFL roster. Although many fans were outraged, Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie met with Vick prior to his signing to look for any signs of “faking” a regret (Price). Lurie later said to Sports Illustrated “Of course he [Vick] could say all the right things. That’s why I tried hard to read his eyes and expressions. You can read someone’s genuine empathy or warmth or regret; it’s hard to fake. Even the best actors you can see though. I could really see an amazing regret, a terrible regret” (Price). Even Lurie who is a dog lover recognized that people could change and gave Vick the chance he deserved.
America’s prison system is set how it is to rehabilitate the convicted and give them adequate sentencing. He served his time, found a job, and even does community service by speaking out against dog fighting. Time magazine writer, Sean Gregory, described Vick’s legal issue as “how the system should work.”
After starting quarterback, Kevin Kolb, was injured, Vick was penciled in as the starter. Needless to say, he didn’t look back. He tore up the NFL and was dreaded by defenses around the league. Mike Ditka described Vick’s 2010-2011 season “Like a man playing with boys” (Price). He put together career year and was in the running for league MVP. He won Comeback Player of the Year for the 2010-2011 season. Vick still continues to be one of the best players in the game. Michael also puts most of his free time into speaking out against dog fighting. He is continuing working to rehabilitate his image on and off the field as being a positive idol (Gregory). Earlier this year he signed his second 100 million dollar contract to stay with the Eagles. Now that his life is back on track, friends and family “say he seems ‘free’ for the first time, unburdened by the distractions” (Price).

Love him or hate him, Michael Vick says everything about America. There is no denying that the man is more than just an athlete. Every athlete has his or her own story, and every athlete tells us something about being American. Sports today are one of the largest parts of American culture. Americans are fascinated with sports, athletics offer a way out of the projects, athletes never give up just like the “American Way,” and America is the land of second chances and new opportunity. What makes Vick’s story unique is the fact that he contains everything there is to be American. He may never get the credit he deserves, but one thing is for sure, and that is there is no arguing with what Toure wrote in his ESPN article, “Michael Vick has become heroic.”


Reflection: Work in Progress

Looking back at the semester, I see a large leap in my maturity as a writer. Because of what I learned in this class, I now take into consideration my audience, and write according to who my audience is. I also had the opportunity to write in a blog format which changed the way I thought about college assignments. Even though I learned a lot, believe it or not, I still have some things I need to work on. However the strengths definitely outweigh the weaknesses.
Before writing, I take in consideration my audience. This affects how I structure certain sentences and it also affects the tone of my piece. I also consider the purpose of the assignment. For example, in our introductory encounter, we were supposed to compose a piece that represents us. I would like to think I am a funny sarcastic guy, so I composed a funny sarcastic piece of writing. Saying it was out there would be an understatement. I talked about chemical spills resulting in me getting super human powers. My audience was my peers and the tone wasn’t meant to be serious, so I wrote a piece as if I was just hanging out with my peers. However, for my final project I had to get serious. In this paper I wanted to appeal to sports fans. Because of this, I used more statistics and I also didn’t necessarily explain what some of the stats meant. I did this on purpose because of my given target audience. Also my tone was serious due to my passion about the topic. I talked about how Michael Vick represents America and American culture. I went into depth on serious issues like athletics being a way out of ghettos. Of course I wasn’t going to keep that topic light; I really wanted my audience to walk through Vick’s shoes so they could understand what it is like.
Writing in a blog format changed the way I thought about college writing. To be completely honest I didn’t want to take this class at all. I actually don’t like writing either; however, the blog format made it entertaining. I felt more people saw what I was writing instead of a teacher skimming through it and giving me a lousy grade. My experience with the blog was cut short unfortunately because for some reason my computer wouldn’t submit my compositions. When it did submit them, early in the year, I enjoyed the feedback I got. This class actually made me start to like writing. Although I seemed to wait until crunch time every deadline, I enjoyed staying up all night to write my papers because I knew my work wasn’t going to go unnoticed. Writing for this blog really motivated me to want to write my final paper. I actually plan on posting it to a sports blog or even trying to submit it to a magazine. I want people to react to what I wrote and I want to see the feedback.
In the beginning of the year, I distinctly remember telling Kim that I don’t make mistakes. I’m not sure what that says about me, but here I am saying that statement is false! Perhaps the biggest mistake I make when writing is my chronic procrastination. It really is a disease. It has to be. It seems like each and every paper I write, I wait until the last minute to do it. I feel that this doesn’t make it as well written. If I didn’t wait until the last minute, I would probably be less stressed. I would also probably have a better grade. I have notices some improvement. Even though I was up until the morning hours typing my final paper, I paced myself that week getting bits and pieces done. My best aspect of my writing is my voice. I feel that I always seem to effectively exhibit something about me in my writing. My love for sports is throughout my writing. I even included it in my journal. The journal topic was about how everything eventually gets remixed. I talked about music, but then I threw in how sports, particularly hockey has been changed and remixed. I gave examples on how rules have changed and how the players have changed.


Michael Vick an Idol

On the surface, one may see Mike Vick as a cruel, sick criminal who should rot in prison; however, he is exactly the same as all of us and he represents what America is all about. My research topic is what Michael Vick says about Americans and American culture. One of the main trends on my research paper is that fact that some superstar athletes, including Vick, have overcame so much to get to where they are now and how they never gave up. These athletes had huge successes and failures, but they never stopped fighting, just like the typical American way. Also I talk about how athletics is a way out for many inner city children living around gangs, like Michael Vick was. Michael Vick will be the main athlete I talk about throughout my paper due to his interesting journey. Vick grew up in Newport News, Virginia. This community was and still is one with high gang population. In the show The Michael Vick Project Vick said how he would always hear gunfire, and the only way to stay out of the gangs and danger was playing football and keeping occupied. Vick’s journey to the NFL was marveled because of the odds against him. He was a Heisman trophy finalist when he was a sophomore at Virginia Tech, then he went to the NFL draft and was drafted in the first round by the Atlanta Falcons. When Vick went to Atlanta he was seen as a “God.” Everyone praised him for his football abilities. Here was a kid who just overcame a poor childhood who now is at the top of the world. However, he never really cut ties with childhood group who kept and that’s when he starting getting into trouble. His attitude went tanked along with his NFL success and his freedom. He served 18 months in jail for running a dog-fighting ring. He then went bankrupt and lost one of the biggest contracts in NFL history.  Now Vick was a convict, broke, and out of a job. Also the world hated him. When he left jail he was a changed man, he had a positive out look on life and took advantage of his opportunity when the Eagles signed him. He is now one of the best players in the NFL.


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