Sports Law • Risk Management

health

Upholding Olympic Values with Handshakes: Managing the Risk of Spreading Illness

Should Olympic athletes risk the spread of germs and shake hands with other athletes at the Olympic Games in London? Chief medical officer of the British Olympic Association suggested that athletes not shake each others’ hands and was quoted as saying, “At an Olympic Games or any major event the performance impact of becoming ill or even feeling a little bit ill can be significant… Essentially we are talking about minimizing the risk of illness and optimizing resistance. Minimizing exposure and getting bugs into the system and being more robust to manage those should that happen.” The advice of not shaking hands was rejected by the British government and so athletes will be free to shake hands, which is more consistent with the spirit of the Games.

NYC Triathlon and Open Water Swims: A Sport of Extreme Sorts

Today as I was swimming laps, I experienced fluid buildup in my lungs. The fluid made it hard to catch my breath, but my stubbornness made it even more difficult to stop swimming before I was done with my set. Not being able to breathe, however, induced a bit of panic, which increased when I had a flash that the lifeguard, who had early been distracted flirting with a guy on the pool deck, might not be paying enough attention to me should I need rescued. At that moment, I recognized that I was responsible for my well-being and that I should not fully trust that someone else would save me, even if it was that person’s job to do so. With that acknowledgement, I stopped swimming until my throat cleared enough to finish my set. This experience left me contemplating about the recent deaths that occurred during the swim segment of the New York City (NYC) Triathlon and what the athletes may have experienced during the race.

August 31, 2010: Withholding Water as Punishment

Just yesterday I was told a surprising story by a woman recalling a childhood experience with a former coach. Her coach tried an unusual tactic to motivate athletes: if an athlete failed to perform, the coach would dump some of the contents from an athlete's water bottle. Thus, as punishment, the coach took away water, a critical element for an athlete's health and overall performance.

July 14, 2010: A Lesson From Wal-Mart in Crowd Control

Managing crowd control is a lesson that can be learned from Wal-Mart. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) imposed a modest fine against Wal-Mart following the customers’ trampling of its employee, which led to the employee’s death. Customers lined up outside of a New York based Wal-Mart in anticipation of an after Thanksgiving sale there. OSHA accuses Wal-Mart of failing to protect its employee from a situation that would likely cause such serious physical harm.