First and foremost, add Declan Sullivan and his family to your prayer list today.
Sullivan, a 20-year-old junior at Notre Dame, died Wednesday when a video tower he was standing in collapsed while filming the Fighting Irish football practice.
A special Mass is being held in South Bend today to remember Sullivan – which is appropriate and necessary.
What wasn’t necessary, though, was for Sullivan to be in the tower in the first place.
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Potash makes an impassioned, and I believe correct, plea for football officials including head coach Brian Kelly to be held accountable.
Towers of that sort are not meant to withstand winds above 30 miles per hour. Winds yesterday in Northern Indiana topped 50 miles per hour. Living in Indiana myself, the current system has swept away the final vestiges of summer, but it shouldn’t be a regular transition between seasons to serve as an otherwise ordinary safety reminder.
Sadly, Sullivan even posted on Twitter how frightened he was in the tower within the hour of his death.
This already has been a difficult year for the Irish on the football field with a 4-4 record and three of the four losses coming by double-digit margins. As is always the case with a new coach anywhere, and especially at a place as high-profile as Notre Dame, being placed under the microscope is a given.
For Kelly, talking about Xs and Os is far easier than talking about the tragedy which happened yesterday, but consider this.
When you were 20, how excited would you have been to have a role with your school’s football team if you weren’t a player, particularly at a place like Notre Dame where the sport is held in such high esteem? I would have been beyond thrilled.
By the same token, even if a situation looked potentially dangerous, would you still perform your job unless someone specifically told you not to? Probably. The difference between 20 and even 25 or 30 – much less older – to say to someone in authority, “Hey, this probably isn’t a good idea,” is huge.
That should have been taken into account as well.