Lauren McGrath | Friday, November 5, 2010
This past Saturday, as the band paid tribute to Declan Sullivan by playing our Alma Mater, I looked around and saw the Notre Dame family holding each other, singing in his memory. I then looked down to the field at the players, so many of whom had witnessed the accident. It was then that I noticed Coach Kelly standing with the team, his head down, his hands clasped in front of him and an NBC news camera inches away from his face, which remained there for the rest of the song. That image has been in my head ever since. To me, it captures the mindset that now surrounds the death of Declan Sullivan: finding out who is to blame.
The recent death of Declan Sullivan was a terrible accident that has affected all of us Notre Dame students, whether we knew him or not. This accident is even more tragic because it was preventable. In a perfect world, football practice would have been inside, or safety guidelines on the lift would have been followed. There are countless “what ifs” that could have prevented this accident and changed everything; however, going through them over and over again, as I am sure the Sullivan family has been, only brings anguish and frustration. It is human nature to want to have someone to blame — and maybe there is someone to blame — but what good will it bring once somebody is? Will it lessen the pain that the Sullivan family is going through? Will it bring people comfort to know that someone will have to live with that guilt for the rest of their life? And what can the blamed person even say to the Sullivan family other than “I am so sorry?”
The thing about accidents is that they are tragic and horrible and heartbreaking, but sometimes they are just accidents. It is entirely appropriate to figure out how to prevent this tragedy from ever happening again — here or at any other school. However, in focusing our attention on figuring out who is to blame, we are cheapening the death and memory of Declan Sullivan. Instead of mourning for his death and praying for his family, so many have diminished this tragedy to a University scandal and legal battle. It is time to bring the focus back to what really matters, and that is praying for the Sullivan family during this impossibly hard time and honoring the life of Declan Sullivan.