- Do not pursue with the terrible scourge him who deserves a slight whip.
- Horace, Satires. I. 3. 119.
The recent news regarding the death of a high school football player due to severe physical punishment for arriving late to practice is added to a long list of students who either died or were injured under insensitive coaches. What constitutes punishment for a student, any student, whether athlete or not, is a topic that has not been studied sufficiently by science. As a comparison, I watched the training of an elite military unit which pushes candidates to the limit of their resistance. Sergeants and instructors were very careful to tell each man to drop out if they felt so weak that they might lose consciousness. These soldiers were not being punished; they were trying to qualify for a few spots in a grueling try-out. There was no shame is giving up; not everybody is able to transcend their physical limits. It is a lesson that some coaches apparently haven’t learned. Some of the injured kids were too proud to admit defeat or to tell their instructor that they couldn’t continue.