Monday, March 23, 2009

Support Our Stinson????? had a story today about a new website devoted to legal defense for Jason Stinson. Stinson has the right to a fair trial and I'm sure he has many friends and family who support him. But this website leaves a bad taste in my mouth for many reasons.

  1. There is substantial testimony that Jason Stinson DID deny water to players during a very hot day. That's perfectly fine (okay, no it isn't) if you're dealing with adults, but not when you are in charge of minors.
  2. There is substantial testimony that Stinson taunted his players for desiring water, apparently wanting to toughen them up by dehydrating them.
  3. The website never mentions Max Gilpin and his death. While this is perhaps understandable, the martyrdom of Stinson is a bit heavyhanded in light of the fact that a young man is dead and he died on his watch.
  4. The chairperson of the legal defense fund, Rodney Daugherty posts this quote in a message on the website: "I respectfully request that you donate if you can afford to. If you are a coach of any sport from the youth leagues on up, you should pay attention to what is going on. This trial, regardless of its conclusion, will affect the way young athletes are coached and trained all across the United States." Does this mean that Daugherty feels coaches should be concerned that they will no longer be able to deny children water during practice, run them mercilessly in the heat, and to taunt them if they collapse?
  5. There are a number of coaches associations supporting Stinson. While I understand this to some extent, I also think this makes a mockery of the child that has died.
  6. The website states: "Coach Jason Stinson has spent many years in the Louisville area being a Christian friend, mentor, leader, teacher and coach to many." What does his religion have to do with anything? Was there something in the Bible about "thou shall give no water to wussy children who don't want to practice hard?" or "thou shall taunt children who are not able to practice in 90 degree temperatures?" Regardless of whether Stinson is responsible for the death of Max Gilpin or not, there is ample evidence that his coaching methods were harsh and potentially dangerous for impressionable young men. I don't consider that moral or "Christian".
Again, I think Stinson deserves a fair trial, and I don't believe for a second that Jason Stinson wanted any child at his practices to suffer injury or harm. Stinson didn't do anything that I'm sure 75% or more of his colleagues in other schools has done. But to run a practice in unbearable conditions and to deny children water in the name of macho BS is a bit much for my tastes. In the end, I hope the truth about what happened that day comes out and that any necessary changes to the responsiblities of coaches will occur. It sounds like they are long overdue.

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