ON KILLING

mcnair1I played high school football. Like every HS team in America we had Hell Week. Hell was in apt descriptor. Our coaches were awful at football and awful at managing people. They had no concept of how to manage players’ health or maybe they just didn’t care. We ran Hell Week in LA smog so thick visibility was quite literally a mile. My coaches also didn’t allow players to take water breaks outside of “water break” times which were once every hour. The good news? We were allowed to eat as many salt tablets as we wanted.

I started all three years of HS football and earned all-league my junior year. That year I played both sides of the ball and played on every special team, but I quit the team the second day of hell week because we were being tortured. I told my mom to call the head coach and tell him I quit because I couldn’t breathe. The coaches relented (other parents had also called). They shorted practice  and allowed us to drink more water, It’s a miracle no one died under their watch. They thought that they were toughening us. But they were torturing us, damaging our lungs and likely damaging internal organs. If any of these techniques were tried today, they would be arrested for child abuse.

What we know now about training and the limits that one can be put through are known quantities. A player dying of Heat Stroke is unconscionable and likely criminal.

At Maryland players were put through exhausting workouts in high heat that lead to the death of a linemen named Jordan McNair. His death was senseless. Heads should roll but some people shouldn’t just lose their jobs their should lose their liberty.

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