EDITOR'S NOTE: Young Voices is an e-mail forum for students college age and younger. Responses are published here every other Tuesday. A few with photos are published in the print newspaper as well. To participate, e-mail associate editor Fannie Flono for information.
Q. A new school year has started but so has a new National Football League season. And former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is out of prison from a dog-fighting conviction and is now with the Philadelphia Eagles. Some critics say he shouldn't be allowed to play football again, that he presents the wrong role model for young people by being allowed to play. What do you think? Should he have been given a second chance?
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Dane Keil, 17, home-schooled, Charlotte: Michael Vick's unforgivably evil acts towards animals and his activities in gambling definitively preclude any justification for returning to the NFL. It is shocking that the NFL would take him back after acts of such a despicable nature. He has irreparably shamed not only himself, but also his teammates, family, sport and league. Allowing a person such as Vick to play again is a detriment and embarrassment to the National Football League and the sport of football itself.
Adam Kiihr, 17, Charlotte Christian, Charlotte: Michael Vick deserves a second chance. Everybody makes mistakes and is allowed to go back to their normal life after serving their punishment. If Vick continues in his illegal ways, he will be kicked out of the NFL again and will no longer be a potential role model. If, however, Vick turns around and becomes a respectable citizen and role model, his story of repentance will only make him that much better of a role model.
Khalia Boulware, 14, Smith Academy of International Languages, Charlotte: I think that Michael Vick should have been given a second chance. Everybody makes mistakes. I'm sure that when he was in prison he realized what he did was wrong. Michael Vick is a really good football player. Just because he messed up once that shouldn't keep him from playing and letting his talent go to waste. Obviously, Michael Vick has a heart for playing football. There is no need for people to criticize him . He does not present the wrong role model for young people. He's actually showing that he learned from his mistake. Let go of the past.
Joe Trenning, 13, Smith Academy of International Languages, Charlotte: Michael Vick has recently gotten out of prison for dog-fighting charges. We all know that Michael Vick made a terrible mistake, but nobody is perfect. As a dog owner, I'm not a big fan of him for what he did, but I feel Michael should be given a second chance. He was and still is a great football player, and it wouldn't be right to keep someone from something they love because of mistake in the past. And after two years in prison, he should definitely be straightened out...for good.
Sofia Carrillo, 13, Smith Academy of International Languages, Charlotte: I strongly think Michael Vick shouldn't be given a second chance, because he killed dogs for entertainment. It was a horrible crime he made. So now it is time for him to suffer the punishment and not play football again. I believe that when you do a crime you need to pay for it! So that's how he will pay for it, which should be not playing football again. I also believe that he is showing the wrong role model for young children by playing football again. Because then children will think its ok to kill dogs and its not!
Mussango Manga, 13, Smith Academy of International Languages, Charlotte: Forgiveness. I think he should be given a second chance. We have all done something wrong. We paid for what we did and we also got a second chance. So he should be given a second chance. He deserves it. What do you expect him to do? Sit around and mourn about it? But he isn't, so get over it. He did his time and he got punished for it. He is not worried about it. It was long ago. So I think he deserves a second chance.You need to forgive him. He asked for forgiveness. So forgive him.
Jonathan Nunez,13, Smith Academy of International Languages, Charlotte: I think he should get another chance because he has lost many things already and maybe football was the worst. I also think that what he did was wrong but everyone makes mistakes and other people do worse things to animals. Now that he knows that dog fighting is wrong, I think he won't do it again because he knows that it affects his profession too. He should also knows that losing respect and money for him is bad. Now that he had lost this once he might not want to lose the respect of others again.
Daniel Shaner, Smith Academy of International Languages, Charlotte: Michael Vick did a bad thing two years ago. He participated in dog fighting and went to jail for two years. Now he is out of jail and was asked to play football for the Philadelphia Eagles. Michael Vick is going to play for them but people don't think he should be allowed to play. I think he should be able to play football again. He served his time and I think he deserves a second chance. He should participate in community service to do the right thing for animals.
Erik Neri, 13, Smith Academy of International Languages, Charlotte: I really don't think Michael Vick should play again because to do things to a dog like torture and slay them is really unforgivable. I just don't understand why they gave this guy a second chance, while millions of other Americans are laid off and don't have a second chance like Michael Vick does. Then again the NFL is all about business. I don't think hiring a guy that just got out of prison is a very smart choice. So once a criminal always a criminal.
Darla Beam, 22, Wake Forest University Graduate School of Business, Wake Forest: Michael Vick did a very stupid thing; he served his time, now he's just going back to work doing what he is paid to do, play football not to be a role model. People in the public eye have done far worse before, and are still sadly idolized. Example Bill Clinton who committed adultery on taxpayer dollars, but yet he was still allowed back to work as U.S. president. It is time for parents, and grandparents to be role models, teaching their children right, and wrong, morals, values, and faith, like mine did, so their idols are worthy individuals not merely superstars.
Julia Hoover, Myers Park: I think that Michael Vick should be allowed to play with the Philadelphia Eagles again. Everybody, no matter who you are, makes mistakes. And I think that everybody deserves a second chance as well. Of course you can never erase that first mistake, but I am sure that Michael Vick has learned from this and has grown a person as well. With a second chance, he will be able to prove himself and show people that his dog-fighting days are over and that he is a better person now. Second chances are important and everybody should get a chance at a second chance.
Kayli Nichols, 13, Smith Academy of International Languages, Charlotte: It is awful to mistreat animals. We are there for them. To provide for them, treat them correctly with care and respect, not for entertaining. Vick, though... Vick set a terrible example to those who he is a role model, too. Should he be given a second chance? Some might say no, although I would give him another chance with conditions. Vick owes much money. The fastest way to pay it off would to be play football. He should first pay off his debt. Then one-fourth of what he makes goes to animal charities and volunteer.
Irina Haerri, 13, Smith Academy of International Languages, Charlotte: Michael Vick should not have been given another chance to be a football star. I agree that he is the wrong role model for young people. If a person that wasn't a star and had done what Michael Vick, they wouldn't have been given a second chance. Torturing a dog or any kind of animal is horrible. Michael Vick should have been let out of prison, but not been given another chance to be a star and a role model. He knew what he was doing while “Dog fighting.”
Matthew Goodman, 16, East Meck High School, Charlotte: I think that the NFL should give Michael Vick a second chance because he did his time. Michael Vick is one of the best quarterbacks that there is, but it's going to take time before Vick gets better because he is not in the shape he should be in.
Ny'asia Fleming, 16, East Meck High School, Charlotte: I really think he should be given a chance but not looked at as a role model because of what he did. I understand that he fought dogs but his career shouldn't be taken (even though he could have lost it). They should look at it like two different objects but it is as if it's a job because he has to make a living somehow. And he said he was sorry, so why not give him a second chance? We're all human, and if we deserve a second chance, so does he.
Chris Morrisey, 17, East Meck High School, Charlotte: I do believe that Vick should be given a second chance to play in the NFL. What he did was very wrong and bad media for young athletes, but I do believe that Vick is sorry for what he did. Although most people do not get second chances, Vick should be allowed to play in the NFL. He's entertaining in games. I think he learned his lesson and plans to do better as a role model.
Hannah Stahl,13,Smith Academy of International Languages, Charlotte: I think it's good that he got a second chance, everybody deserves a second chance. However I think he should have had to wait at least half a year. What he did was horrible and disturbing. Michael Vick most likely got a second chance because he's an athlete. Michael hopefully learned his lesson because he is in debt of millions of dollars. What he did to all those dogs was so sad and cruel. Many people were upset by what he did and are happy he went to jail.
Ayinde Pablo Best, 13, Smith Academy of International Languages, Charlotte: Should Michael Vick be given a second chance? I think Michael Vick should be allowed to play football again. I don't think someone you don't know personally can be a role model to you; although you can aspire to have the same success they've had. I say this because, they may be a different person when the cameras aren't flashing in their face. I also believe if you've served your time for a crime you've committed, you have already paid your dues to the society. Therefore, my opinion is Michael Vick should be given a second chance.
Sophie Weiss, 13, Smith Academy of International Languages, Charlotte: I definitely think that what Michael Vick did was wrong. He was torturing live animals. But I think he has learned his lesson from being in prison. Also he has to pay a lot of money. But I do think he should be given a second chance. Nobody does everything perfect in life. Everyone has gotten a second chance in life before. So I don't think just because he made a huge mistake he shouldn't be able to play the sports that he loves, football. I think he realizes what he did was wrong and that's whats important.
Elijah Duke, 13, Smith Academy of International Languages, Charlotte: Michael Vick has done his time. He spent two years in prison, he was alone in prison for 23 hours of every day and now he must pay $20 million to creditors. He won't even be able to play football until the 7th game of the season because of his suspension. When Michael Vick was a kid, dogfighting was happening all around him. Unfortunately dogfighting was part of his mindset, therefore, he did the same as an adult. Michael Vick deserves a second chance, something to get his mind off of the hate he's facing. Forgiveness can be hard.
Kim Lukau, Smith Academy of International Languages, Charlotte: Michael Vick shouldn't have the privilege to play football because that makes him an icon that people will want to follow. I believe in forgiveness. Michael Vick has committed a crime, in the slaughter of the dogs. Mr. Vick paid the price for his crime. He also made an apology and turned himself into the authorities before his incarceration date. The life of NFL players paves the path for millions to follow. His action can send a negative message to the fans that crime is an acceptable action. Michael Vick lost the right to be an icon, celebrity, or leader.
Abbey Birchfield, 13, Smith Academy of International Languages, Charlotte: I think that Michael Vick should be given another chance, because we all make mistakes. I also think that he deserved to be put in jail for torturing the innocent dogs for no reason. Although he is not a very good role model at this point, I think that he could learn from his mistakes. If Michael is caught doing more dog fights or another crime then he should not be given a third chance. If we don't show mercy to Michael Vick, how will we ever expect someone else to show us mercy when we make a mistake?
Trinity Johnson, 13, Smith Academy of International Languages, Charlotte: Yes, Vick should have a second chance. I believe he is being discriminated against since he is a celebrity. A normal citizen would serve time for the crime and return to work. Vick already served time and humiliated himself in the public's eye. Celebrities such as Brittany Spears and T.I. have done unimaginable things but are still admired by students. These are bad role models who have been given a second chance and Vick should have the same opportunity. A crime is a crime and each should be punished once. Equality and forgiveness are part of America's values.
Amelia Cary, 13, Smith Academy of International Languages, Charlotte: Michael Vick should no longer be allowed to play in the NFL, due to his horrible crime. He killed and tortured numerous, innocent dogs, without remorse. Michael Vick decided to take the risk and throw away his present money, which is now being used to pay off his debts. Many people say, that since he has served time in jail and is dealing with bankruptcy, he should be given a second chance. His dogs were never given such a chance! If a dog fought badly, it would be tortured to a horrible extent, which even resulted in death.
Stephen Idol, 15, Providence High School, Charlotte: The fact of the matter is that Miachael Vick made a horrible mistake, served his sentence, and is kindly being given a second chance by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. However, I think that the prison sentence and the house arrest will have taken its toll upon his ability to play football at a high level, and I think that his true punishment will be vanishing into the vast group of bad and mediocre players in the NFL. Both his fans and his bitter enemies will know what an utter failure he is.
Khevna Desai, 16, School of Math, Engineering, Technology & Science @ Olympic High School, Charlotte: Although Michael Vick committed the crime, I believe he should be allowed to play again. The crime he committed is a horrible one which is not to be forgotten, however Vick admitted his mistake to America which takes courage. Not everyone can be the perfect role model and being a celebrity does not automatically make you one. But by admitting his mistake, Vick accepted and observed the punishment given without hesitation, a responsible decision. The dog fighting charges are now in the past, and should not shadow his phenomenal football career. I believe that Michael Vick is still a role model because he acted truthfully in a time when most would cover up the truth.
Nicole Lindholm, 14, Smith Accademy of International Languages, Charlotte: Michael Vick should not be given another chance to play NFL football. He recently got out of prison from a dog-fighting conviction and owes about $20 million dollars to creditors. Vick only served 2 years in prison, which in my opinion is not enough. On NFLshop.com, they are selling pet jerseys with Vick's number on it. Who would want to buy a jersey for their pet that has a guy's number on it that abused and fought pit bulls until one died? Is Vick the role model you want your kids to have?
Montana Roberts, 12, Smith Academy of International Languages, Charlotte: Should Michael Vick be given a second chance? No. In my opinion, Michael Vick's dogfighting has shown him to be ruthless and cruel. He tortured and killed poor, helpless animals, and now they're considering to let him play football again. I don't think he should be allowed. Since the police cut off his previous outlet for violence, he might start hurting other players on field. I believe it's a bad idea to let a man like that play a dangerous sport.