Friday, April 11, 2008

Run 'til you Die

This is a picture of Ereck Plancher. He was a football player at the University of Central Florida. He died after collapsing during a conditioning drill on March 18th, but that is not even while the story begins. We have seen athletes like Korey Stringer and Rashidi Wheeler die during conditioning drills, but neither of them died like Ereck Plancher did.
The above link tells the story of how Plancher was obviously struggling during conditioning drills, yet his own coaches insulted and disparaged him as he was in the process of dying before their very eyes. Four of his teammates are on record of how UCF coach George O'Leary singled out Plancher for finishing last in various drills and berated his effort in front of the entire team. Later that evening Plancher died, and UCF and O'Leary had to go into damage control. He has denied the reports stated by his own players, the ones who were taking part in the same drills as Plancher and were running side by side to a dying man.
After the high-profile deaths of the aforementioned Wheeler and Stringer, there were many reports of how college and pro programs alike would be more aware and understanding of players who were showing signs of physical weakness or possible life-threatening symptoms. Unfortunately it doesn't seem like these advances made it down to Orlando. At UCF it appears the same old draconian and macho attitude that lead to the death of numerous athletes before Plancher was not only still being applied, but even worse was being forced upon the members of the football team. If it is true that O'Leary (the same guy who lied on his application while trying to become coach at Notre Dame) and the rest of his assistants basically turned a blind eye to a dying player, then something a lot more serious than a half-baked claim of institutional change needs to take place. I would sure believe the statement's of Plancher's teammates over that of legendary douchebag O'Leary, and therefore I believe that not only should O'Leary and his staff be immediately fired but he should also be charged criminally in the role of Plancher's death.
I find it inconcievable first of all that a coach and his staff wouldn't be able to tell the difference between lack of effort and much more serious symptoms that were being shown by Plancher. As his own teammates stated, he was obviously having trouble breathing, yet none of the coaches saw him struggling and then compounded this mistake by basically saying he was half-assing a workout, (make that a pointless workout in MARCH, not the actual football season). If this is true, it not only violates the stated responsibility of a coaching staff to not only coach and train its players, but also monitor their well-being and physical stability. These coaches are trusted with their players lives, and frankly it looks like the coaches of UCF care more about the results of a mat drill than the actual lives of one of their players.
So here we are, almost a month after Plancher died. He is in the grave, having died for a conditioning drill, while O'Leary and his staff are still getting paid to supposedly run a football program. If this doesn't seem fair to you either, then lets hope that someone else besides a random blogger like myself makes it a point to bring this issue up to someone who can actually do something not only to murderers like O'Leary and the rest of the UCF coaching staff, but also the entire NCAA that unfortunately seems to turn a blind eye toward the well being of the very players that make them such a powerful organization.

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