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 Washington, D.C.)
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.