Despite the media's, the Humane Society's, the NFL's and the court sytem's attempts to destroy the influence of and support for Michael Dwayne Vick, American youths have resoundingly united in solidarity and acknowledgement that Mr. Vick is a man they look up to and admire.
The TRU Study asked teens to name their two favorite athletes(professional, amateur, active, or retired). African-American teens ranked Vick their favorite NFL player and fifth-favorite athlete overall...ranking ahead of such sports luminaries as Tiger Woods, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Reggie Bush,Peyton Manning, and Tim Duncan, among many others.
Vick's perception by teens did take a dive in one area:
In a separate survey question, teens were asked to rate a list of 63 athletes based on familiarity and liking. Results yielded athletes'"TRU*Scores," showing the percentage of teens who are both familiar with an athlete and like that athlete "very much." While Vick's TRU*Score among African Americans (40) was still higher than that of Jeter (37), A-Rod(35), and Kobe Bryant (39), among others, it was dramatically lower than the watermark 72 TRU*Score he earned from African-American teens in the Fall 2005 survey, and even his 64 from the previous Spring 2007 study.
Certainly, the drop in his 'score' in this question can be related to the media bombardment of negativity in reporting with an unstated policy to ignore all the good things in which Mr. Vick has taken part.
However, clearly the media mission was not a complete success, as his score did remain high among the Negro teens.
TRU Trend Manager Blair Fischer said, "The fact that his score is still significantly higher among black teens indicates that some don't consider dog fighting a serious crime, or believe his involvement in it is minimal."
These certainly must be relevant reasons that Negro teens still haven't completely abandoned Vick. Obviously, the media never fully completed the character assassination.
Another explanation for Vick's relative popularity among black teens lies in the fact that survey data show that significantly fewer African-American teens pass judgment on star athletes under suspicion of wrongdoing. In fact, 23% of white teens and 26% of Hispanic teens say they 'don't like' suspected steroid-user Barry Bonds, compared to only 9% of African-Americans who say the same. Likewise, more than one-fourth of white and Hispanic teens (both 27%) say they don't like Kobe Bryant, acquitted of sexual assault earlier this decade. Only 12% of African-American teens, on the other hand, say the same.
Certainly, the data makes the statement (in bold) above plausible. It would be difficult to extrapolate anything else from the data. Although smaller minds might try to somehow connect the numbers with the inference that Negro teens are inclined to be more sympathetic to their own race. But that would be a gross and biased generalization. Obviously the numbers are a product of the culturally less judgmental Negro teens. While, we suspect that the willingness of white teens to negatively rate star Negro athletes is based on the media's negative portrayal of the Negro and the other cultures' willingness to accept it.
While 'popularity' polls are generally best looked at as a fun diversion, these particular numbers do send a clear message:
Michael Vick's career may be currently derailed, but the next generation of paying sports fan is waiting breathlessly for his return.
The numbers don't lie.