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Hogarth judge

February 2018



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Hogarth judge

White light gonna kill me, goodness knows

It seems that football coach Jason Stinson has been acquitted of murder charges after one of his players, Max Gilpin, collapsed and later died of heat exhaustion during a team practice.

Part of me is upset at this acquittal. I have no doubt that Stinson did exactly what he was accused of doing. He proclaimed that he was going to keep his players sprinting until one of them quit the team. He denied them water, and either expressed or feigned anger at them, calling one different player a "coward" after that player collapsed and vomited during the practice. The victim was apparently struggling to keep running to impress the angry coach that he was not a coward.

But then, you knew sports were like this, which is why you didn't go out for the team. You had more sense than to expose yourself to this kind of hazing malarkey. And that's what this is, exactly: yet another hazing tragedy.

Americans have got to get themselves over the foolish notion that any time a tragedy occurs, somebody is "responsible" and must go to prison. Stinson was following in the footsteps of a long line of coaches, drill sergeants, and similar figures who imagine that there's something ennobling about their hazing rituals, that they motivate their charges, "build character", or whatever bullshit they invent to justify them.

It also came to light that the victim was taking the amphetamine Adderall for "attention deficit disorder", i.e. being young, male, and extroverted. This can't have helped. He was apparently mildly fluish at the time as well.

This was a tragedy waiting to happen. The Stinson incident was not the first. "In the decade ending in 2004, 24 young football players -- 19 of them in high school, three in college, and two in the professional ranks -- have died of heat stroke..." It will happen again, so long as young men imagine that they can "prove" themselves by enduring these sorts of ritual hazing. Until we learn to hold this kind of "sport" in the contempt it deserves, there will be others.


One of them is the reason ephedra has been banned and there's been the whole fascist deal at the drugstore with Sudafed and other effective OTCs. We even have trouble getting Bronkaid any more. You have to sign something and let Obama know you're buying it.

"Americans have got to get themselves over the foolish notion that any time a tragedy occurs, somebody is "responsible" and must go to prison." We think this every time there's another news item about the poor slob who gave Jackson the medication he asked for. But in these sports hazing cases, the coach is responsible. He needed to shut his big mouth and stop treating his players like machines. But those men are elevated to such God status they are nearly invincible, they can do whatever they want. This acquittal proves it. Someone or something has got to take them down.

You're saying that the players need to turn around and rebel, that they need to walk away from it, to say "enough." But it isn't just the coaches that are the problem, they have to face the others "what are you, gay or something?", go home and face their parents, their fathers who will tell them they are quitters and cowards. It is the same god-damned macho code of honor as in the military (where recruits drop dead and they don't tell us). Someone's got to be able to stand up to all that. It's almost like some one of them has got to be their Rosa Parks.
The tendency of young men to form groups in which they test each other by feats of bravado or animal hardihood, and establish a pecking order by their willingness to persist in the face of pain or fear, seems to be so common I suspect it may be universal. The lack of appeal these things have for me may be another of those "normal person" emotions I just don't feel. As far as I'm concerned the only difference between joining the team, joining the Army, or joining the Crips is in the attitude of the larger society towards your chosen gang.

Then again, I turned around and walked away from that crap back in middle school. I cannot say that there were no consequences, but I was bullheaded enough to outlast them, thank God.

Given the apparent universality of these macho male bonding and hazing rituals, I have to question whether it's really within the power of government to eliminate them entirely. We may only succeed in driving them underground; but they appear to flourish especially when they are clandestine.