Abuse leads to tragedy in sports

Gillian Daley/ Staff Writer

His name was Jordan McNair.

When emergency service medics finally covered his strained and overheated body in a sheet and begun to move his corpse the long distance across and out of the University of Maryland’s football field, he was only nineteen.

McNair, who will never see his twentieth birthday, died June 13 of this year in the dog days of summer.

His death is unique in that the burden of guilt for it can be totally and utterly laid at the feet of the University of Maryland – most pointedly, it’s training staff, without whom, McNair would most certainly still be alive today.

The nation looks on incredulously, nearly two months after McNair’s passing, at the University of Maryland.

The school is still staggering in the shockwaves that this young student’s death left behind him; Officials are still drafting statements, investigations still are being opened and closed.

Yet, we’re still waiting for answers.

McNair’s parents, Tonya Wilson and Martin McNair, are still awaiting proper answers and real explanations.

How could this have possibly happened? How could one of the top universities in Maryland have effectually worked one of their young athletes, literally, to death? What consequences (other than generous severance agreements) can we hope to see for those who are directly responsible for McNair’s death?

He died of heatstroke complications, nearly two weeks after he collapsed in the sweltering summer heat of College Park.

But he also died of neglect. It’s not unfair to say that neglect, mistreatment and stupendous incompetence ended Jordan McNair’s life.

Because on May 29, McNair had been instructed by university coaches to run lap sets of 110 yards in over the overwhelming heat of the summer’s afternoon.

After nearly ten 110 yard sprints, he collapsed.

His body was left on the field whilst his teammates were instructed to continue with their training. Due to the incompetence of his trainers and coaches, he did not receive basic immediate care.

He wasn’t given cold immersion treatment. He wasn’t given enough fluids. He wasn’t taken out of the sun.

They didn’t even bother to take his temperature. Not even after he started having seizures was he given proper attention.

Nearly an hour after the first convulsions began, someone finally contacted the emergency services.

By that time such severe damage had been done to the 19-year-old athlete’s body and brain that he would eventually die, nearly two weeks later as a result of complications.

A dangerous cocktail of callous disregard for the safety of children and downright ineptitude is apparently what passes for best practices with the University of Maryland’s football training staff.

According to reports that have come pouring out of the floodgates since McNair’s death, “abuse” is a commonplace misnomer for “care” with the university’s football staff.

In fact, the Washington Post reports that the program operates via a culture which is heavily saturated with “bullying and abuse.”

They cite instances similar to the events surrounding McNair’s death, where players’ physical needs were simply ignored.

Additionally, other equally disturbing accounts from players, which describe humiliation tactics and the utilization of fear on the part of the university employees against student players.

Name calling, hazing and verbal abuse are apparently routine for the student-athletes to endure.

Which leads one to believe that the horrific death of McNair isn’t a stand-alone tragedy.

Rather, it’s one chapter within a much larger and much more frightening story.

It’s an example of how dangerous it can be to create a culture of abuse between student-athletes and hired coaches in university sports.

Coaching abuse. It’s a refrain we’ve heard time and time again throughout the years.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

Photo by Sandro Schuh on Unsplash.

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