Tuesday, January 27, 2009

High School coach shouldn't be charged with crime

I have to wonder where the line of personal responsibility lies in a case like this:

Coach charged in player's death

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Kentucky high school football coach was charged today with reckless homicide in the death of one of his players who collapsed at practice on a hot day.

A grand jury indicted David Jason Stinson in the death of Pleasure Ridge Park offensive lineman Max Gilpin. Stinson was directing practice on Aug. 20, when the heat index reached 94 degrees in Louisville, where the school is located. The 15-year-old Gilpin collapsed and had trouble breathing.When the sophomore reached Kosair Children’s Hospital, he had a temperature of 107 degrees and died there three days later.The reckless-homicide charge means grand jurors didn’t find that Stinson’s actions were intentional or malicious, said Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Stengel. However, Stengel said, “a reasonable man should have realized something like this could have occurred.”Stinson’s attorney, Alex Dathorne, told the Associated Press that the coach maintains his innocence and looks forward to “bringing out the whole story.”“We’re certainly disappointed in the grand jury’s decision to indict,” Dathorne said.Stengel said Stinson, who coached the whole 2008 season, will surrender Monday at his arraignment and likely will remain free pending trial.Stengel said he reviewed the actions of five assistant coaches who were on the field that day and determined they committed no criminal act.Lauren Roberts, a spokeswoman for the Jefferson County Public Schools, said she’s aware of the indictment, but the school system had not been formally notified about the charge.“We’ll be making a determination about his status with the district,” Roberts said.Elden May, a Kentucky High School Athletic Association spokesman, declined comment.Stinson asked to testify in front of the grand jurors but they declined to hear him, Stengel said. The grand jury heard only from a Louisville Metro Police detective.Gilpin’s parents, Glenna Michele Crockett and Jeffrey Dean Gilpin, sued Stinson and the five assistant coaches in state court accusing them of negligence and “reckless disregard.”Along with the lawsuit and criminal investigation, the school system has been conducting its own investigation, which was still pending today.

If the coach''s tactics help the player become a millionaire, we all think it is the player who gets 100% of the money and benefits. Sure the coach might get mentioned but not in a way that matters.

I'm thinking if a player had run for hours, and then was seeking water, and the coach ordered everyone on the field not to give it to him, then that would be the fault of the coach. But a player has to know their own body and limits.

Also, there should be guidelines for coaches as to what is legal and not.
If the coach was aware his actions could be criminal, and he did them anyway then he should be prosecuted even though I would disagree with the law.

So the bottom line is that parents and students need to use common sense when engaging in sports.

A coach has numerous players that he is trying to motivate and teach.

My standard for any charges would be whether the coach was acting in good faith and being reasonable for what he was doing. Not necessarily would I have done what the coach did, but was he reasonable? Did the community know about what he was doing and allow him to continue?

From what I know today, this was a tragedy that should be left alone.

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