Tuesday, September 01, 2009

He'll never get a chance to grow up

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned my opinion on high school athletics here before, and if I haven't I will soon. But there's a court case going on now that basically tries a high school coach for murder because he held grueling football practice in 100+ temperatures and denied the players water until one collapsed and died. Coaches across the country are watching this case, upset about it, because of the ramifications if this guy is found guilty. The general feeling seems to be, "If this guy gets convicted, it will severely limit how we can coach."

Yes, if a guy who worked a teenage boy to death, who killed a child with his whole life ahead of him just so he could win a game, gets found guilty of doing exactly that, it could interfere with your ability to kill teenage kids. Wow, what a harsh reality to live with. What a horrible limitation to work within, having to keep conditions conducive to living.

Construction workers, road workers, prisoners in chain gangs, all of these people are legally required to have water breaks and safe work conditions. Apparently high school athletes aren't. Because, it seems, working construction or laying asphalt or doing time doesn't build character, and playing football does.

I guess if you're one of those people who feel that sports are some vital part of adolescence, who value organized game playing in some child-development way, you could possibly entertain the notion that winning is worth personal pain and physical danger. But I think that if my kid wants to run around in tight pants for fun, if he wants to be part of the team and get the letter jacket, he shouldn't have to risk his life to play. Bruises, bumps, exhaustion, and even the occasional broken arm or blown out knee. These are supposed to be the possible consequences of being a team player. A concussion maybe, but not death.

I hope this coach is found guilty and sentenced to prison. I want this man, who seems to see his role in the kid's death as a professional mistake, a job thing, who has detached himself from it and chalked it up to being part of the kid's football career, to actually have to live side by side with career criminals and violent offenders, to have to wear the jumpsuit and eat off a prison tray. Maybe not just because of this one boy who died, but because of all the other boys who will continue to die year after year if this coach is acquitted and a precedent is set that implies that death is a reasonable risk of playing high school sports and that it is in no part the coach's fault for working kids harder than a warden can work a criminal on the side of the road.

We have laws that say a 40 year old man cannot have sex with a 15 year old girl, because he is older and should know better, because it would be too easy for him to take advantage of her and make her do something that might not be in her best interest, and if you violate that law you have to register for the rest of your life. But this adult made a kid do something that was dangerous and ultimately deadly, and he did it by using his position of authority and by taking advantage of the kid's desire to impress and to prove himself. If making the kid give him a blow job to make the team would have followed him for life, making the kid give him his life for it should too.

1 comment:

Shelly said...

I saw that story in People magazine and was outraged! And I heard recently that the coach was acquitted. It is ridiculous. That coach should be in prison.