More than a quarter century has passed since I worked with Steve Politi at the Daily Tar Heel. But he has just offered me a reminder of his biting wit and enviable writing skill.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the latest example that the world is going nuts.
John Suk sits with shoulders slouched and his head down at the defendant’s table in Courtroom 301, a stuffy wood-paneled space inside the Somerset County judicial complex. The 31-year-old middle school teacher scribbles in a notebook as his reputation is shredded.
The plaintiff’s attorneys in Civil Docket No. L-000629-15 have spent two full days portraying the co-defendant as an inattentive and unqualified lout. He is, they argue, a villain who destroyed the future of a teenager he was supposed to protect.
“He must be held accountable for what he did,” one of the plaintiff’s two attorneys tells jurors during opening arguments.
The attacks intensify when Suk takes the witness stand to defend himself on a split-second decision he made seven years earlier. He is accused of taking a reckless course of action that showed a callous disregard for another person’s safety.
He sounds like an awful person. Then you remember what Suk did to end up here.
He instructed a player he was coaching during a junior varsity baseball game to slide.
Not into an active volcano.
Not into a shark tank.
Into third base.
Yep. Steve reaches an interesting conclusion:
So, yes, I have found the intersection of our overly litigious society and our out-of-control youth sports culture. As Suk sits there, scribbling away, I am consumed with a sickening thought: If this JV baseball coach is found liable for telling a player to slide, there’s nothing to stop the dominoes from falling everywhere around us.
In short: We’re all f—ed.