Sports Law • Risk Management

New Technology and Sports Risk Management

If you are planning to run a marathon, participate in a triathlon, play a softball or hockey game, surf, swim in the ocean or ski, there is most likely a website that you can visit for information about the venue, participants, rules, registration, photographs and other information. Websites and social media also provide opportunities for event directors and coaches to disseminate information about safety and provide warnings to participants regarding possible hazards.

For example, there is a jellyfish calendar available for Hawaiian waters that informs surfers and swimmers which days each month when they should stay out of the ocean in order to avoid jellyfish stings. It is a simple matter to “Google” the name of any sport or recreational activity, combined with “safety” and instantly receive a long list of websites that provides safety tips. There are no excuses for not knowing the safety rules of a sport or activity since they are only a few clicks away.

For event directors and coaches, it makes sense to publish rules, warnings and safety tips on your website and other social media forums. If you find yourself a defendant in a lawsuit, you can certainly argue that warnings were issued on the website that the plaintiff had to visit in order to register for the event. Websites are commonly used for registrants to electronically sign liability waivers. Twitter can be used to provide up to the minute warnings and safety information. Text messaging can also be used for transmission. Of course, electronic dissemination can also create hazards if athletes are distracted by their smart phones rather than paying attention to where they are walking, running, riding, driving, or skating.