Today sports fans mourn the loss of Nick Adenhart a promising young baseball pitcher, tragically killed in an automobile accident. Not long before, we learned of the death of an 'anonymous' person by Donte Stallworth. In April 2007, Cardinals' righthander Josh Hancock died in an car crash. The common theme? The tragedy that each involved a traffic fatality induced by alcohol.
Every year 25,000 people die in alcohol-related accidents, the equivalent of eight '911's every year. Supposedly, a person has a one in two chance of being involved in an alcohol-related accident in their lifetime. We parade athletes before Congress for use of anabolic steroids, yet seem all too willing to stand by and let history repeat itself, day after day after day.
Nobody demands that baseball be free of drunken fans, drunken players, or drunken managers. We celebrate the drunken exploits of "The Babe" or "The Mick". It's the misbehavior that we have no problem looking the other way.
It's not just famous athletes who die in alcohol-related accidents, it's mothers and grandparents, and children. Perhaps getting behind the wheel drunk stands as the ultimate narcissism, as the drunk driver has no regard for his fellow man. After ten at night, one in fourteen drivers is driving impaired; the number falls to about one in seven after one A.M. In other words, driving to or from work, chauffering your family and your neighbors, you take your life in your hands amidst a sea of drunks.
We can't do anything about Nick Adenhart, Josh Hancock or the departed thirteen year old sister (killed by a drunk driver) of a patient I saw today. Seventy other nameless 'Nicks' will die in alcohol-related accidents TODAY. We can work to change a culture where teenagers brag of 'getting wasted', adults show little leadership on the issue, and professional sports looks the other way, peddling seven dollar beers and showcasing distillers. It has to stop.