I am disturbed by the Rashidi Wheeler case. My hope was the the case could be settled. It does not appear that this will occur anytime soon.
I am extremely disturbed at the way some members of the media described the practice as an "illegal practice". Illegal is when you break federal, state or local laws. When you don't meet the guidelines of an association (NCAA) that you're a member of, then you may be in non-compliance or violation, but there is no illegality involved unless it is an actual violation of law.
I am at a lost to understand why the practice has been described as a "brutal practice". I played a little football and ran track in high school. There is nothing that I saw on those tapes that is any more "brutal" than what we did in high school. In fact, a lot of the practices I had in track in high school were tougher than the drills covered that they were apparently doing on that they. I can understand the delay in responding to Rashidi as an asthma attack, because they (the other players & trainers) may have thought he was just tired from the practice. That may explain why the players continued the drill. When I was in high school, the whole team did not stop practice, because one player was out of it.
I feel for the Wheeler's. There is very little that anybody can say for a family that has lost their beloved son. And yet, I can't help sensing that the way they are on a crusade to seek vengeance rather than a really attempting to understand what caused Rashidi's death and implementing reforms to reduce the likelihood of recurrence. I guess I think the Wheeler's are just lashing out at the representatives of NU (Walker, Taylor, etc.) as an outlet for relieving their pain. I just feel that they are too emotionally invested in being the anti-NU power structure to consider the full array of events that brought forth Rashidi's death (e.g., asthma?, Ultimate Orange?, medical care?, phone?, misfortune?) in any balanced fashion.
Whenever someone is higher up on the organizational chart, you can say that they are "responsible". Coach Walker is responsible for NU's football program. As an aside, the American's with Disabilities Act requires that "reasonable" accomodations be made to for persons with disabilities in employment, housing, etc. Likewise, with NU football, Coach Walker would be expected to provide reasonable measures to ensure athletes' safety. Was there something that Coach Walker could have "reasonably" done in hindsight? In any case, I do not believe that he deserves to be called "Little Hitler".
I am not the most familiar with the the details of the incident, so I am reluctant to take a stand on who is responsible "overall". However, from the tidbits I've heard and read, the real issues for NU seem to be if (1) the medical response was appropriate and (2) whether the emergency phone not working cost time that would have saved Rashidi's life. Even with the phone, it might even be argued that the City of Evanston might be "responsible". Of course, the one possibility that hasn't really been discussed seems to be if every reasonable precaution and action was taken to save Rashidi Wheeler's life.
Personally, I believe it is just a great tragedy. A young man, with hope and promise and not even near the prime of his life was lost. In this very litiguous society, we often try to affix blame to everything, rather than accepting tradegy.
My overall sense is that there is room for improvement in college athletics and at NU based on what I've learned through this case. However, I believe that aspects of the Rashidi Wheeler case have been blown out of proportion and politicized to the point that the whole case is becoming an embarrassment to all involved to include the Wheeler family, NU, the lawyers, and the Chicago area media
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