A Horrible Sports Death Trifecta

06.30.10 8 years ago 9 Comments


There’s nothing worse in life than seeing a young person go down with an untimely death, and unfortunately three of them have happened quite recently. We like to glorify gladiator-like athletes as they lay it all on the line to entertain the masses with rippling muscles and extreme athleticism, but at times the journey to fan adulation can end in horrific tragedy.

On Friday a sophomore pole vaulter at Grinnell College, a tiny Division III school situated somewhere in Iowa, was attempting a practice vault when his attempt went horribly awry. Robert Zhongjie Yin died yesterday because of it.

One of his coaches Peggy Brooks gave this play-by-play of the accident: “When he was vaulting he went up, didn’t go up the pole well and went off to the side…he just went up and went past the bar, and went to the side and missed the mat.” -Frat House Sports

Hopefully better safety precautions will be used all over the United States because of this incident, because it’s heartbreaking to think that there’s even a chance that someone could be severely injured while pole vaulting, which is such a controlled environment. At least he got to go out doing something he (presumably) loved.

Michael Kirkham, a 6’9″ 190 pound amateur fighter with a career record of 3-3, made his professional MMA debut Saturday night. Things turned fatal when his frail frame was no match for his thicker built opponent and he was unable to stop the deadly blows that rained down upon his skull. MMA, which has long been maligned for being too gruesome, suffered their second casualty ever that night.

The Kirkham tragedy was a typical MMA sponsored fight. The 6’9 and 190 pound fighter towered over his opponent. Nevertheless, his slight frame made him highly vulnerable. His foe used Greco-Roman wrestling and low center of gravity. Kirkham was put on his back. At this point, his opponent went to “ground and pound” mode. He mounted Kirkham and pummeled him with terrific blows to his face and head.

Kirkham didn’t “tap out” or give up the match. The referee stopped it. His intervention came too late. Kirkham went into unconsciousness. He was transported on a stretcher to a local hospital. Life-saving techniques failed to revive him. He was declared dead and became a footnote in MMA’s brief and violent history. -Helium

Finally, fringe hall-of-fame Eagles (amongst other teams) quarterback Randall Cunningham’s two-and-a-half year old child drowned in the family hot tub after the family babysitter neglected to keep an eye on him. The hot tub had been used by Randall for baptisms, as he’s become a Las Vegas pastor now that his football days are done.

A woman at Cunningham’s house was with several children when she found the boy at about 4:30 p.m., Las Vegas police Lt. Dennis Flynn said. She removed the boy from the hot tub and began performing CPR. Paramedics took the child to St. Rose Dominican Hospital, Siena campus, where he died, Flynn said. -Game On!

Adding insult to tragedy is this horrible, horrible headline by USA Today that ostensibly insinuates that the death of a child in a hot tub begins some sort of game. Someone should be fired over this fiasco.


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