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Thomas Junta finishes prison term for involuntary manslaughter

Aug 28, 2010, 4:00 PM EDT

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Parents can spiral out of control when it comes to their kids. One of the most common situations where this happens is during sporting events, particularly in full-contact events that include some serious impact blows.

Yet as heated as these situations can become, you never expect someone to die during the worst exchanges. That’s exactly what happened in July 2000 when Thomas Junta fought with hockey coach Michael Costin. Costin lost his life while Junta was sentenced for six-to-10 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter, a charge for which he served time until Thursday. Here’s more from the Associated Press.

A Massachusetts man who beat another man to death at their sons’ hockey scrimmage has been released from prison.

Thomas Junta (JUN’-tah) of Reading received a six- to 10-year sentence in January 2002 for involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Costin. The case drew widespread attention to the problem of parental violence at youth sporting events.

A Massachusetts prisons spokeswoman says Junta was released Thursday from Northeastern Correctional Center in Concord.

It was a disturbing case, but Steve Krause of “The Item” writes that the story isn’t really about sports but rather the dangers of uncontrolled rage.

What is the difference between what Junta did and what happened two weeks ago at a Boston nightclub, where the participant in a bar brawl threw a heavy glass against the wall, impaling an innocent bystander in his jugular vein with a shard of glass and killing him? I say none.

In both cases, the root cause of the carnage is not necessarily the venue, but the rage … and the lack of control.

Junta’s story is certainly a cautionary tale about anger management, whether it be about sports or anything else. The difference between punching a hole in the wall/walking away from an argument/squeezing a stress ball vs. letting go and getting into a fight can be enormous. For Junta, it meant eight years in prison and a ruined reputation. For his victim Costin, it meant losing his life.

It’s easier said than done, but sometimes it’s better just to let it go.

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