Sure it's a shame that 32,436 people were shot to death in
America in 1997, that 4,223 of them were younger than 20, and
that 190 million guns are now in the U.S. But such figures have
no place in a sports magazine, which should really stick to
sports coverage lest you cancel your subscription. So let's not
dwell on the school shootings in Santee, Calif., on March 5 and
instead get straight to the sports news.
Two days before the Santee shootings, Chambersburg High defeated
McCaskey High, 72-69, in the Class AAAA Pennsylvania high school
basketball championship game. After the game in Hersheypark
Arena, a man pulled a gun in a mezzanine stairwell, shouted "Who
wants it?" and shot another man in the leg.
The day before that, in Des Moines, a North High jersey was on
display beside a basketball at the visitation for O'Dale Terry, a
17-year-old player who was shot to death by another motorist
while driving on a freeway in St. Louis, where he had gone to
visit his mother. (O'Dale's father, as a teenager, was shot in
the face, and his uncle was shot to death in the back in 1979.)
Four days before the Terry visitation, a Wilkes University
basketball player was pistol-whipped when four gunmen broke into
and robbed a Wilkes-Barre, Pa., house at 8:30 in the evening.
Fifteen days before that, Michael Langley, a popular basketball
walk-on at Loyola College in Maryland, was shot while defending
two women in a North Baltimore bar. Two 16-year-olds were
arrested. (The victim's father was shot dead four years ago in
Two days later, Markus Fyall, a 6'6" forward who averaged 20.5
points a game for Beach Channel High in New York City, began a
five-year prison sentence for attempted murder. Two summers ago
Fyall and another New York high school sports star shot a man in
the head during a robbery.
Five days before Fyall's imprisonment, a 13-year-old in
Cincinnati was arrested with a loaded .25-caliber automatic
handgun and a .22-caliber revolver after threatening some girls
in the school gym. The child had reportedly been hit on the head
with a basketball.
That same day, a man pleaded guilty to felony assault in Bozeman,
Mont., after pulling a gun on a Montana State assistant football
coach in the men's room at Zebra's bar. In the ensuing scuffle,
investigators said, the gun discharged.
Two days before that, a 19-year-old man surrendered (and would
plead not guilty) in the murder investigation of a Buffalo man
who was shot during a pickup basketball game.
Two days before that, a wide receiver for the James Madison
University football team was shot in the chest during an argument
while playing cards in an off-campus apartment.
The day before that, a teenager in Gary, Ind., shot Roosevelt
High senior basketball guard Chad Knight, who was scheduled to
make a recruiting visit that afternoon to Chicago State
University. (The teenager has been charged with attempted
That same night, in Dayton, a handgun was fired during a fight
outside Springfield South High after a basketball game.
Four days before that, a man reportedly fired a weapon "four or
five" times outside Colonel White High in Dayton, while the home
team was inside, playing Springfield South.
Eleven days before that, in Utah, a 17-year-old Provo High
student allegedly brought a pistol, owned by his father, to a
basketball game against Timpview High.
Four days before that was the funeral for 17-year-old Tommy
Johnson Jr., the football captain at Christ the King High in New
York City. Johnson was buried in his number 5 football jersey. He
died after being shot in the face by a 19-year-old man.
Two days before that, a high school football and track athlete in
Maryland was killed when a bullet passed through the closed door
of his hotel room and struck him in the head.
The night before that, during a postgame fight at the Louisa
County High basketball game in Mineral, Va., someone fired a
handgun into the air five times--"sending the crowd," according to
one report, "into a panic."
Seven days before that, a 17-year-old basketball player at Payson
High in Utah brought an unloaded handgun, which he had hidden in
his gym bag, to his team's game against Spanish Fork High.
Four days before that, on Jan. 1, 2001, the new millennium
For young Americans every day, this is the way the world ends:
with a bang and a whimper.
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: DAN PICASSO