Dueling columns: Coach’s reckless homicide charge

Football coach responsible for athlete’s death

What is a game? According to Dictionary.com the first definition for the word is an amusement or pastime.

That sounds about right, and you know what isn’t in the definition? Death.

Death doesn’t usually come from games, but accidents you can’t see coming happen.

A pitcher gets hit in the temple by a line drive coming back at him twice as fast as his pitch. A football player gets paralyzed during a kick-off return.

But you can see the weather forecast and know when it is going to be too hot to play football. At least most coaches can do that.

I am not saying Pleasure Ridge Park High School head football coach David Stinson killed 15-year-old Max Gilpin on purpose. That is why he is being charged for reckless homicide, and I think deservedly so.

As a former baseball coach myself, I know how hard it is to manage your kids while fighting the weather during practice. And I had to deal with the Texas heat during June and July.

I made sure my kids got water breaks every 15 to 20 minutes and I cancelled practice on multiple occasions because of the heat.

And trust me, it was hard to do, especially if you are as competitive as I am, but I am glad I don’t have to deal with being charged for reckless homicide.

I hope if Stinson gets convicted, he gets the minimum, because I am sure this was an accident, but he should still be held accountable for his actions.

Maybe he can get a plea bargain and only serve a couple months in prison, then some probation time. I don’t want to see this man burn, but I do think a precedent needs to be set for high school athletes who needlessly die during practice.

One of the first stories I ever wrote when I worked for a Waxahachie newspaper was about Everman High School’s first football game after senior tight end and TCU commit, Craig Boatwright, died while running on the school’s track the day before.

It was a tough story to write and it was even tougher to be at that game. I hope coaches look at this and see that football is just a game and that it’s not worth dying for.

Billy Wessels is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Waxahachie.

Heat-related dangers a risk of playing sports

Last week, the family of a high school football player in Kentucky who collapsed at a hot practice in August and later died charged the coach of the team with reckless homicide.

David Stinson, the coach involved in the incident, plead not guilty to the charges Monday.

Max Gilpin was a 15-year-old sophomore and an offensive lineman on Pleasure Ridge Park’s football team when we collapsed during an Aug. 20 practice, according to a New York Times article. The heat index that day in Louisville reached 94 degrees, according to the report.

The circumstances surrounding the incident are unclear at this time, but Gilpin’s family has brought the charges against Stinson in hopes of bringing awareness to hydration and heat-related illnesses.

While Gilpin’s death is unquestionably tragic – no one should have to die so young – tragic things sometimes happen in sports.

Everyone who participates in any type of physical activity faces risks of injuries, and yes, even death.

Heat-related deaths have received a lot of attention lately, mostly because they appear to be happening with greater frequency. But the number of these deaths is relatively small when compared to the number of athletes that take part in physical activities every day.

Stinson deserves no punishment in this situation, unless we come to find out that he denied players water breaks and adequate rest.

Heat-related dangers are only one of the many risks football players and other athletes take every time they take the field. Getting hit at the wrong angle could leave players paralyzed for life, or even worse, kill them.

You wouldn’t hold a coach responsible for a life-threatening or life-ending injury sustained on the field of play, so why should Stinson be blamed for this incident?

Athletes have chosen their path and they must be aware of the risks that come with the lifestyle.

If Stinson is found guilty, it would set a bad precedent for all coaches of all sports at all levels. They would be in a constant state of fear of being blamed for freak accidents that may lead to a player’s death.

Sports editor Michael Carroll is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Coppell.

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