The irony–and part of the reason for my umbrage against the surviving Stingers–is that the removal of ephedra (which still lives on in a variety of synthetic forms approved by the FDA) from the shelves would strike me as a legitimate response to the tragedy. Ephedra indeed elevates heart rate and core temperature, which is why the Ripped Fuel bottle used to be half-covered with warnings and strong guidelines for dosage. I can see that knee-jerk reaction, and I’m about 90% sure that the Stringers made an initial attempt to sue the manufacturer before their ambitions changed. Kelci Stringer herself later would admit that Korey Stringer used Ripped Fuel, although she wasn’t sure he did on the day he died.
In the course of their climb up the chain of potential defendants, however, the Stringers actually tried to rule out the ephedra link, since that would stand in the way of suits against the Vikings and the NFL. Along the way they attempted to sue two coaches, a team athletic trainer, a team doctor, the practice where the team doctor worked, the attending doctor at the hospital where Stringer was treated for heatstroke, and now the makers of shoulder pads and helmets.
Kelci Stringer claimed all along that she just wanted to know what happened to her husband. The pattern of litigation suggests to me that her quest for knowledge overshot that particular mark.]]>
The Roberts report, however–specifically Kelci Stringer’s criticism of coaches, which raised your own dander–seems to fall in line with a pattern of displacement that has characterized the Stringer family’s “advocacy” efforts since litigation in the case of the father began. All the good that has arisen from the case appears to me to be incidental: the family is still in the process of exploring every option for monetizing the death of Korey Stringer–they’ve just hatched a suit against Riddell, the maker of helmets and shoulder pads, for their part in his death–and the investment in youth sports seems less like a disinterested effort to protect kids in general than to protect the family investment in the promising younger Stringer.
Roberts seem to think that Stringer’s work is a cry for institutional accountability. That would be true if the suits against the NFL and the Vikings were unequivocally corrective efforts–attempts to challenge the militaristic macho culture that denies 350-pound men water and shade to toughen them up and force them to make weight.
When those same legal efforts are directed against a company that makes protective equipment, however, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that a different set of underlying imperatives is at issue.