I read with great interest the predicament that Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Kasen Williams have created for Steve Sarkisian, their teammates, the University of Washington and their fan base. By choosing to drink and drive, these two athletes have placed their football program, as well as potential National Football League careers, at risk and disappointed their entire community. Worse than this, their negligence placed other people in harm's way and could have produced lethal consequences.
My brother, Matthew, was killed in 1984, at the age of 16, in the state of Utah by a drunk semi-truck driver. This event altered my life and devastated everyone in my family, especially my father who was following my brother at the time and witnessed his death from about 150 feet away. My dad held my dying brother in his arms until he was gone. Sobbing, my father could only keep asking "Why?"
The truck driver had spent the previous night gambling and drinking at a nearby Nevada casino, and at the time of the accident his blood-alcohol level was only one half of Jenkins.' At his court sentencing, the driver, not unlike Jenkins and Williams, was "remorseful."
Just two days earlier, my brother had competed in the high jump at the state finals and placed second. He was an outstanding athlete who was involved in three sports and was loved by all of his teammates and classmates. Losing Matthew in this tragic way was a devastating blow to our small high school in Central Utah and to our community as a whole.
Coach Sark, is it so important to win football games, even in the face of the grand opening of your fabulous stadium, that you will pass up the opportunity to help these athletes understand that all choices have consequences and that we must all be accountable for our actions? Should these student- athletes not be held accountable for irresponsible behavior that could have taken an innocent life like my brother's?
Thousands of prospective athletes, football fans and the news media are watching you, Coach Sark. They anxiously await your decision, and many hope your punishments will be made with integrity and courage. A "win at all costs" decision will send a loud and clear message to student-athletes and fans and will encourage other youth to make the wrong decision about driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or both. Please send a message that could help prevent others from suffering the permanent and painful loss that my family and I had to experience so many years ago.
Randall Burr is a practicing dermatologist from Meridian, Idaho, and is a BYU graduate and University of Utah school of medicine graduate.
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