Sports Law • Risk Management


MLB Protective Netting Extension: To Protect the Fans or to Protect the Facility Owners?

The start of the 2018 season will see all 30 MLB install protective netting to the near ends of each dugout with some teams extending their protective netting even further. In doing so, these clubs are extending the protection to spectators who are dangerously close to the action. Baseball, since the early 1900’s, has been operating under the safety net of the “Baseball Rule,” the assumption of risk that states that injury from objects leaving the field of play and into the stands are an open and obvious risk that is inherent to the game. In purchasing their tickets and attending a game, spectators agree to the Baseball Rule, which might include their suffering injuries from balls, bats, gloves, and even athletes making their way into the stands.

However, baseball today is vastly different from the games played a century ago.

An Overview of Drone Use for Sports Facilities

Drone use at sporting events has made international news in the last month when a drone piloted by a New York City high school science teacher crashed during a women’s singles match at the U.S. Open Tennis Championship. Days later, a drone crashed at the stadium shortly before a Kentucky football game. There were no injuries as a result of those two incidents. However, in a triathlon filmed in Australia, an athlete was injured by a drone within meters of the finish line.

Disaster Planning

In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, where estimates at this writing are 10,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands of people misplaced, it is time to consider whether your organization is prepared for a significant weather disaster.
1. Disaster Plan Notebook

How to Avoid Making a Racket Over Racquets: Using Equipment Only For Its Intended Use

I’ll bet that on occasion employees of your organization have had to warn a child or adult not to use sports equipment for things other than their intended use. Perhaps you’ve seen someone using a baseball bat to dislodge a basketball from a net; a weight bench to stand on in order to reach something; small weights to prop a door open; or a tennis racquet to kill a bug. Most of the time, using equipment for something other than what it was designed for does not cause any harm.

Providing Reasonable Accessibility to Medical Care at Events

Does your organization provide reasonable accessibility to medical care during recreational activities? A recent Federal Court case addressed this issue, with the Court denying the Defendant’s motion to dismiss the case and so the matter will proceed to trial unless the parties are able to enter into a settlement agreement. See: Estate of Newton v. Grandstaff, 2011 WL 2678933 (July 8, 2011)

Athletic Trainer Risk Management

On August 12, 2011, a Federal Court in Alabama issued a decision in a case in which a former football player at Auburn University sued a former athletic trainer at Auburn for failing to supervise his rehabilitation properly. See Ramsey v. Gamber, Slip Copy, 2011 WL 3568911 (2011). Plaintiff Ramsey had been injured while doing weight training at the University. His athletic trainer thereafter collaborated with doctors to design a rehabilitation plan. Ramsey alleged that Gamber “improperly ordered him to perform weighted exercise before it was safe for him to do so, in violation of doctors’ instructions.”