The crowd mentality of a mob, combined with the peer pressure that so often pushes teenagers to the edge of reason, made Vancouver's riot last week a very poor place to be for 17-year old Nathan Kotylak.

Kotylak was caught lighting a rag on fire that was tucked into the gas tank of a police car during the riot following the Canucks' Game 7 loss to Boston in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Over the weekend, he apologized:

Video courtesy Global News.

There were a lot of dumb mistakes made that evening in Vancouver, and a lot of people will be dealing with the legal system for quite some time because of it. But Kotylak may have cost himself a life dream.

That's because he's a member of the men's Canadian water polo team, and his skills in the pool have earned him a scholarship to the University of Calgary. But his future is now in limbo as countless cell phone cameras and video cameras caught him committing a heinously stupid act. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong decision. And he may never live it down.

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Kotalyk's Canadian national team executive director, Ahmed El-Awadi, expressed his disappointment at hearing about the allegations, but maintained they were still allegations for now. Kotalyk hasn't been charged yet, but if he is, it will be for arson and inciting a riot.

What Kotylak did was inexcusable. And he apologized only after attention was drawn to him on a massive scale.

But it could have been much worse. Kotylak wasn't shoplifting or hurting other people, and the vehicle was clearly already trashed beyond repair.

It doesn't make it right. But his confession seemed pure to the point of being poignant. Does he deserve to lose a bright future?

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