Professor Blamed for SKorea Marathon Death
SEOUL (AFP) — A South Korean university professor who promised his class extra marks for running marathons has been held responsible for a student's death during the event, reports said Wednesday.
The Seoul Central District Court Monday ordered the unidentified academic and his university to pay 50 million won (39,300 dollars) to the parents of the student, the Korea Times and Korea Herald reported.
They said the professor, who taught statistics but was also a keen athlete, offered extra marks to male students who ran a half-marathon and to female students who competed in a 10-km event.
The student took part in a half-marathon in Seoul in May 2008 but collapsed and died during the event. His parents filed suit, arguing his participation was effectively compulsory.
Judges noted that competition for good grades is especially crucial during the economic slowdown.
Wow, so much to comment on here, so I'm just going to start with the obvious.
The kid did not run a marathon, AFP people. It was a half. A half something is not a whole something. I learned that in second grade, probably with some demonstration involving a pie. It disappoints me that a half-marathon and a whole marathon aren't more or less equivalents, because getting a BQ would be so much simpler if I could just use my half-marathon PR instead of my marathon time.
Which brings us to statistics. Being a stats instructor, no doubt the Korean professor knew the probability that a student would die in a half-marathon. The odds of death in a marathon are about 1 in 50,000, according to the Peak Performance web site. If we're going to operate on truly shoddy math (see previous paragraph), let's just say the odds of death in a half-marathon are 1 in 100,000. Really sucks to be that professor, doesn't it? That's what you get for your professional association with probability, buddy. A giant cosmic guffaw.
As well as one from me. You're lucky you weren't sued by the rest of the boys' parents because you let the girls run a 10k for extra credit while the boys had to do the half-marathon. Between the sexism and supposed culpability in a student's death, I wouldn't bank on a Professor of the Year Award. The odds are not in your favor. "Keen athlete," yes. Good teacher--probably not.
While I'm fascinated that the judges cited competition for grades as particularly fierce in an economic slowdown without recognizing that litigious acts by grieving parents are probably also somewhat influenced by a crappy economy, my last comment has more to do with the extra credit. Granted, I used to give my stats students extra credit for knowing trivia about Lost, so I'm giant hypocrite for saying this, but some relevance to the course subject matter always seems like a good idea. Which may have avoided the whole pesky issue of a dead student and a lawsuit. Next time, Professor, just ask your students to answer TV trivia questions. They'll think you're a little bit cooler (important for a stats instructor, trust me), and no one dies. Win, win.