By now the entire country knows about what happened here a few days ago. I write about it for two reasons. One, because there is a discussion that can occur in light of tragedy. And two, because this event happened a few miles from me and was responded to by co-workers of mine. Needless to say, everyone is a tad shook up.
This is one of those stories that happens every so often in the Sports world. A kid, seemingly in the best shape of their life, playing a sport they love, all of a sudden drops dead from a heart attack, leaving a school or community in complete shock, wondering where they go from there. It is called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, which, simply put (because do a lot of you really care if I go all techno-babble on you about this? No.) a thickening of the heart muscle that impedes blood flow out of the heart. Some of the more famous incidents include Hank Gathers, Chicago Bears Defensive End Gaines Adams and Oakland A's pitcher Joe Kennedy.
Now, in the face of this tragedy, the community is grappling with what to do. They secure a perfect season, given to them by this star athlete who hits a last second shot, then dies on the court minutes afterward. Do they play another game? How do they honor this kid? So on and so forth.
So is this what people locally are saying about this tragedy?
Not really. They're bitching at the school, parents, medical community, etc. "This should've been prevented" was one comment. "How many times will this happen before something is done?" was another. "Someone should sue the school district" was another. Really? A lawsuit? C'mon.
Look. I hate when this shit happens. It's always a blame game. I get that a 17 year old star athlete shouldn't die at all, let alone this way. So, what do you do? Cardiac Caths, MRI's and EKG's should be part of physicals for athletes of all ages? But then the bitching will start about cost, inconvenience, blah blah blah. So yeah, it is preventable, sure. But I'm pretty sure the kid would play anyway, regardless of those results. Why? Because it made him happy.
Does it suck? Sure. Is it preventable? Maybe, maybe not. Should we get all up in arms over something that is purely genetic and, shit, it just happens? No. People should think about that, mourn, and move on. He's happy he went out doing the very thing he loved...playing ball, celebrating a victory, living life.
We should all be so lucky.