The Death Of A Former Football Player At An Underground Fight In A Church Has, Somehow, Resulted In A Lawsuit

Illustration for article titled The Death Of A Former Football Player At An Underground Fight In A Church Has, Somehow, Resulted In A Lawsuit

The church along the Broken Arrow Expressway in Tulsa is of the Christian-capitalist mega-variety. You know the deal: rock shows, slick website, a gift shop, deadly unsanctioned boxing fights. One such fight on Sept. 21, 2011, allegedly resulted in the death of George Clinkscale, who played linebacker for four years for the University of Tulsa. Now, Clinkscale's parents have sued the church and its pastors.


First, it should be noted that the name of the church is Guts Church. I'm not making that up. That's a goddamn stupid name. But that's hardly the issue. The issue is that, in September, Guts Church sponsored "Fight Night VI," an unsanctioned (and, therefore, illegal) boxing card that featured Clinkscale as the main event. Clinkscale suffered a "possible concussion," was taken to the hospital, and died.

The Clinkscale family's lawsuit contends that Guts Church didn't have a licensed doctor at ringside, didn't weigh the fighters before the bouts, and failed to perform a pre-fight physical. That last allegation is critical, because fighters sometimes sustain head injuries in training that can linger and cause bleeding in the brain. Any further head trauma can easily turn the injury lethal. Of course, fighters may not realize they're injured. Or they may not tell a doctor if they feel funny. But they certainly can't tell a doctor they feel funny if there's no doctor present.

Given that the bouts were televised, and the church and its pastors, Bill and Sandy Scheer, allegedly acted as promoters and matchmakers for the fights (another violation), I have to wonder if somebody wasn't making some money off this. It's a sad story, no doubt. Clinkscale left behind a fiancee and a young daughter. As for Bill Scheer, he was Clinkscale's pastor for years. He went to the hospital with Clinkscale. He can't feel good about any of this. Nor can he enjoy that Clinkscale's death has prompted investigations by the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission and state lawmakers.

But after looking and listening to this clip from one of the Guts Church fight cards, I have to ask: Is this really a house of God?:

Here's the lawsuit for anyone interested: