Effective Sports Risk Management
A few years ago, I was appalled to hear that my former triathlon training buddy was severely injured playing volleyball. I’m sure that you are thinking that she probably twisted her knee or somehow messed up her shoulder. It was nothing as ordinary and commonplace as that. She dove for a ball, crashing head on into a concrete barrier located a few feet outside of the sand volleyball court. Her injuries were so serious that she landed in ICU and she is still suffering the effects of those injuries today, because of the negligence of the volleyball tournament directors and possibly others. Lessons can surely be learned from this horrible accident.
Every time your sports or recreation organization gives someone the keys to a motor vehicle, you are essentially lending a deadly weapon. Just open any newspaper and the proof is there. Motor vehicles are hitting and killing people even more than guns. Pair a young, old, drunk, buzzed, high, cell-phone talking, texting, eating, distracted or depressed driver with a motor vehicle and hope that everyone in the car and all that come close survive. If you gave the driver permission to drive your car and someone is injured or killed because of that driver’s negligence, you might find yourself or your organization on the wrong end of a lawsuit.
Disaster planning is often beyond the scope of what can be done by someone without formal training or experience. Hiring an expert who is trained in emergency management to review your safety and facility plans may be worth the price.
While you must pay for expert advice, there are an increasing number of experts to choose from. Universities are increasingly offering courses and degrees in variations of emergency management. Typical training includes planning for situations involving natural and man-made emergencies.
In addition to the practical reasons to hire an emergency management expert, doing so might help you offset some of the financial cost. Try to negotiate a discount in your premium from your insurance company for utilizing an expert and for developing extensive emergency management plans. But regardless if your insurance premiums are adjusted, protecting the financial investment of your organization with a high quality emergency management plan just makes sense.
Triathlon race directors must necessarily put a tremendous amount of effort in risk management in planning a triathlon. By the same token, each triathlete should have his or her own risk management plan with every training ride, swim or run and every race. After all, it is the athlete that has to endure the outcome of any injury or accident, which will certainly impact his or her ability to continue training and racing. This is part 1 of a series of blogs on triathlon risk management. The following are some guidelines for triathletes who wish to manage their risk in training and competing in the swim portion of the event.
In my law practice, I have a surprising number of cases that involve parking lot motor vehicle accidents. I have also noticed that in the last 3 years, since I’ve been walking to work several times per week, which involves walking through various parking lots, that there are many hazards. What does this have to do with sports and recreation? If you are a facility owner or manager, you have probably figured this out. With every sports and recreation facility there are parking lots for patrons to park.
Extreme sports risk management is not a new sport involving assessing risk while rappelling down a mountain. What I’m talking about is risk management for extreme sports, such as skateboarding, surfing, mountain biking, mountain climbing, bungee jumping and many other popular adventure sports that seemingly involve more risk than traditional sports, such as baseball, tennis and volleyball. One of the goals that we have at Nohr Sports Risk Management, LLC is to focus on extreme sports just as much or more than we do on traditional sports, because we feel that this segment of sports and recreation is underserved and is growing.
Here is a scenario that commonly occurs: You oversee the operations of a non-profit youth club sport. To keep costs down, you use volunteers to process registration applications and to collect game day and tournament fees. This is a brilliant plan to use volunteers because parents gladly give their time to support the team for which their son or daughter plays.
But can you trust these volunteer parents to be honest or to be diligent in securing the money they collect? Do you have a system in place to account for how much should have been collected? Have you thought about how to handle a situation when money appears to be missing?
If you are running a non-profit youth club sport, you probably cannot afford to lose money from theft or poor accounting skills. Thus, it is important to develop a loss control plan to safeguard your monetary assets. Instead of just trusting parents to do the job, at the very least train your volunteers on your money collection process and then audit the funds when they are done. With a few extra steps you can save your organization from an unnecessary financial loss.
The above quote can also be applied to sports and recreation if you substitute golf club, bat or racquet with “fist”. However, the problem with golf, baseball, tennis and other sports is probably more with lack of attention than what Justice Homes is referring to, which is most likely the intentional swinging of fists rather than with the above mentioned sports….unless you’re talking about hockey. An example of a court case involving a golf club swing is Hemady v. Long Beach Unified School District, et al., 49 Cal. Rptr.3d 464, 143 Cal.App.4th 566 (2006). In this case, Jane Hemady, a twelve year old student, filed a lawsuit against the Long Beach Unified School District, after she was hit in the face with a golf club that was swung by another student while she was taking a golf class for seventh grade physical education.
There are three fundamentals that your organization should keep in mind when preparing for potential disasters.
When addressing the concern for saving human lives, it is a good idea to list those persons whose lives you are seeking to protect. Sports and recreation programs generally will list athletes, participants, coaches, employees, fans, customers, clients, managers, suppliers, vendors, and any other people that might be on the premises should a disaster strike.