Last night, I was able to sit down quietly and read SI's multi-page feature on the death of high school football player Max Gilpin written by Thomas Lake. Naturally the entire story would impossible to post here and is also probably illegal. So instead of that, I would highly recommend that everyone go out and buy the Dec. 6 edition of Sports Illustrated.
Let me give you some background info on Gilpin. In August 2008, Gilpin collapsed during football practice at Pleasure Ridge Park High School in August 2008 when temperatures were around 94 degrees. He had a temperature of 107 when they took him to the hospital and he died three days afterwards. In January 2009, Gilpin's head football coach, David Jason Stinson, was charge with reckless homicide for his death.
He was acquitted in the criminal case and settled out of court in the civil case, Lake paints a very interesting picture of Stinson.
Going through court documents, eye-witness accounts and several interviews, Lake was able to recreated Gilpin's final day on earth. For the most part it appeared to be a very candid, non-slanted, heavily detailed account of what happened. I'd say that Lake's account really points out that this football death was more of a freak occasion than Stinson's fault.
Lake went so far as to estimate how many "gassers" the football team was running that day and said that Gilpin probably ran a mile and a half before collapsing. That's a tough practice, but in the back of my head, that's not a cruel punishment.
With that said, Stinson's own actions make him come across rather badly.
Lake does a fine, fine job presenting his case, presenting where Stinson came from and really exonerating him of blame.
But Stinson is an ass.
In that entire article, there was no remorse for the kid passing. I'm unsure Stinson even knew the name of the kid before this incident. When Gilpin passed out, Stinson was apparently unaware of it, and it was parents and assistant coaches that tended to him.
When charges were brought up against him, the area was hit with a series of natural disasters that Stinson thought was god keeping him off the front page.
By the way, Stinson is a devout Christian, but apparently he had no tears to spill for Gilpin.
I'm fine with head coaches being hard asses. I'm fine with them running a tough practice. I fine with them teaching character. By most accounts, Stinson did nothing wrong but I'd say he's handled the entire situation wrong.
A kid died, and while Stinson shouldn't be responsible, he should understand that his practice killed the kid.
Gilpin was on medication and took creatine, which were contributing factors, and some witnesses say he was sick before practice. He pushed on though because he wanted to please his father and his coach, what teenager wouldn't want to do that?
In his interview with Stinson, he comes off like John Wayne but without the good guy attributes. You can practically feel the cocky coach attitude rolling off of him.
I'm not asking for a conviction, but come on dude, these kids look up to you, you're entrusted to them and if one of them dies, you might want to show a little sadness. Just saying.