As an athlete or celebrity, you are always in the news and tabloids. Your everyday life is under surveillance and under constant scrutiny. So sometimes when a celebrity/athlete messes up you must forget about it because at the end of the day we are all human and we all make mistakes. Sometimes though these celebrities/athletes can get away with way more than a person should be allowed to.


That’s why I have chosen this topic, if a celebrity/athlete makes a mistake how we should handle it and if that mistake is something big like for example, Michael Vick was caught in 2009 for having a house in middle America where he would organize and partake in betting on dog fights. He was prosecuted for this and did his jail time, so he went legally through the system but still when he came back to play football everyone said he shouldn’t be allowed back into the NFL because of his actions. But as soon as he stated to perform well people started to forget that he even did something wrong. I think there should be a middle ground to these things. Also, I wonder if an athlete/celebrity can do something like this, or something even worse, can we separate what they did and what they have accomplished in their career and still appreciate that side of it. This is something I really want to research about and learn if we can separate these two things, also how many different cases there are like this.


Some of the people of the top my head would be Kobe Bryant and his rape case, Bill Cosby and his multiple rape allegations, and one of the biggest ones in our society would be OJ Simpson. The case of OJ Simpson is one of the most interesting to me because with the others we know for the most part that they did what they were prosecuted for, however in OJs situation it’s a divided society because a lot of people say that he did not commit the murder and a lot believe that he did. So, let’s say OJ did do it, could we still say that he was a great football player and one of the greatest running backs of all time, or would that be too disrespectful to Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. For a non-athlete example that had a situation like this would-be Michael Jackson and his child molestation case. Michael Jackson the king of pop and one of the greatest singers/entertainers of all time, had his legacy tainted by child molestation case, so can you look past that and say yea I still love MJ and his music or can you not even listen to his songs without thinking about it. You could be in the third more neutral party and say I do love his music and videos but don’t respect him as a person. Hopefully by the end of this essay I can answer that question.


            To completely understand this topic, I had to first research all the cases we have had in the past where a celebrity or athlete broke the law. I looked at news articles watched documentaries and some YouTube videos to try and understand all sides of the issue. I really dove into the case of OJ Simpson because it was the most interesting to me. Just as prerequisite I do believe OJ Simpson was responsible for the murders of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson. But I tried to not put my bias towards him in this essay because it’s a research paper. What I found is that during his case there were an alarming amount of people who had the thought that even if he did do it doesn’t matter because he is the greatest football player ever or that he was the role model for a lot of people and that’s why they believe he didn’t do it. They didn’t do the research on the case, instead they made a snap judgment because he was a well-known athlete. OJs Lawyers even used this in court presenting OJ as celebrity who is being picked on and they really used the race card in his case towards the white police officers.


Some of the people I talked to in my friend group said that if he did do it doesn’t change the fact he is a great football player and that we should be able to separate the two things. So, the thing that I asked myself then is, if we separate the two things and say yes OJ the football player was great and OJ the person was not, would that be disrespectful to the families affected? This question, to me, has no single answer to it because it really depends on what the person did and how that affected the other person, because each individual takes something differently so that would have to be dissected on a case to case basis.


The thing I learned about researching is that you really must find a source that stays neutral and shows all point of views you yourself also should stay neutral with the given topic. So, the thing that really drove me on this paper was to try to stay as less egocentric in my research and report as possible. I really tried to keep my own emotions out for the essay. My least favorite part was reading the testimonies by the families because when a celebrity is prosecuted the fan following they have go after the Peron prosecuting them. This can be hard for some who isn’t a celebrity and doesn’t have all the security and professional help that someone with more wealth can afford.


            This issue will be debated till the end of time, especially now that we get news so quick we forget about the news from just a month back. So, this will be issue that never goes away because it doesn’t have a definite answer on how it should be solved. So, what I thought before the essay came true, I had a feeling that I wouldn’t come up with a definite answer because it’s such a wide-ranging issue. The thing we must look at is how each person is affected. In a, less extreme case than OJs like Michael Vick, we need to look at how bad it was for Vick as well. He missed all his prime years in jail. So, it really depends on the exact case. That something that I really didn’t think about at the beginning of the essay is how the celebrity/athletes was affected. One of the most convincing sources was a YouTube video I watched that showed how each side of the cases was affected and that really made me open my eyes and I concluded that we can’t be the judges and juries of our society we have those people in place for that so we should let what happened happen and come up with our own feelings on what you think of that certain person.


Works Cited

Piquero, Alex R., et al. “Race, Punishment, and the Michael Vick Experience.” Social Science Quarterly (Wiley-Blackwell), vol. 92, no. 2, June 2011, pp. 535-551. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1111/j.1540-6237.2011.00781.x.

I choose this source because it shows how whites were more likely to view Michael Vick’s punishment as too soft. However, non whites were in Vick’s corner and had the opposite views. Race remained a huge variable in Vick’s case because of this. Till this day race drives what people think of Vick. Attitudes toward both criminal punishment and NFL reinstatement vary across race. These results underscore that white and nonwhites perceive the law and its administration differently.


Grano, Daniel A. “Michael Vick’s “Genuine Remorse” And Problems of Public Forgiveness.” Quarterly Journal of Speech, vol. 100, no. 1, Feb. 2014, pp. 81-104. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/00335630.2014.888460.

2009 April near the end of Michael Vicks prison term for dog fighting, Roger Goodell said if Vick could show genuine remorse he could continue his NFL career. At the same time Vick was planing on how to perform in interviews and public appearances. This showed how the NFL could make us forgive an athlete way easier than we would a normal human.


Markovitz, Jonathan. “Anatomy of a Spectacle: Race, Gender, and Memory in the Kobe Bryant Rape Case.” Sociology of Sport Journal, vol. 23, no. 4, Dec. 2006, pp. 396-418. EBSCOhost,

This article argues that coverage of the Kobe Bryant rape case showed divisions in America, because the allegations against Kobe showed tensions involving Black masculinity, White femininity, and the role of sport and celebrity in public life. 


Black, Ray. “Where Did We Go Wrong?: Bill Cosby and the Anxiety of Communal Responsibility.” Black Scholar, vol. 34, no. 4, Winter2004, pp. 16-20. EBSCOhost, 

I choose this article because in the last couple of years the biggest shock to everyone has been Cosby. Bill Cosby was apart of one of the most famous sitcoms in all of history. HE was especially a big favorite for the minorities because he showed you can be smart, rich, and successful as a colored person, in his show. That’s the reason this article and case hit so hard for some people he was America’s favorite and now is one of the most hated.