Sports Safety for Administrators
League, Club, and School Administrators have a huge responsibility. It can be fun, but overwhelming. The current state of youth sports presents some significant challenges for administrators.
Preventable harm remains unacceptably frequent...
It can happen in an instant. Sports injuries are inevitable, regardless of your cautious attempts to prevent them. And suddenly, if you have no plan, no documentation, you’ve got a big mess on your hands.
Risk Management and Youth Sports Organizations
With so many responsibilities, sometimes medical safety gets put in the "it won't happen to us"or "we don't need that" category. Unfortunately, this has come back to bite organizations like US Soccer and Pop Warner Football.
“Both Pop Warner and USA Football fail to adequately ensure that their coaches were properly trained and educated on the topic of safety”
"Defendants failed to create and implement league-wide guidelines concerning the treatment and monitoring of players who suffer a brain injury during a practice or a game”
"executive director of Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc., conceded in a deposition that the national Pop Warner office does not check whether coaches in fact receive such [safety] training.” (Ref)
Risk Management professional Diana Urbanchuk explains, "my responsibility is to help organizations identify risks and make informed decisions about proactively managing, avoiding and/or financing these risks. Sports organizations must seriously contemplate the following:
What could possibly happen to their athletes, third parties/spectators, or their staff?
What is the likelihood that each identified risk will occur?
What is the effect to the organization if a loss occurs? (financial, reputation, future viability, etc.)
What can reasonably be done to reduce severity, likelihood or impact of these risks?"
The Question of Liability
The article School Liability—Student Athlete Concussions in the U.S. "reviews the litigation landscape of concussions in student athletics and the latest claim and settlement activity."
"... plaintiffs' attorneys across the nation are aggressively pursuing school districts and coaches on behalf of concussed student athletes. The crux of the allegations in these lawsuits involve multiple concussions, returning to play and/or practice too soon, negligent supervision, lack of an emergency medical response plan, and inadequate immediate medical response"
The use of waivers "to release an organization from liability" is now being questioned as a defense. "... it is becoming more probable that a court will not uphold said waiver and the civil suit for damages will be permitted to proceed."
There are concussion laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. All these laws apply to school based sports and 24 of them also apply to non-school based leagues and clubs. However, none of these laws provides an implementable system which leaves the leagues and schools responsible for documenting, tracking, communicating the remove from play and return to play protocols and ultimately complying with these laws.
Attorney Alan Goldberger, a nationally recognized authority on sports officiating and sports law, educator, and multi-sport official says:
"On a national level or even on a statewide level, the people who govern sports can't really be assured that the people who are actually present and coaching, officiating or administrating the particular event will know what to do unless they have developed policies and protocols and mechanics that people who are involved might actually utilize."
"...people need to understand that pamphlets won't do it and laws are not a panacea that if you have a law that all of a sudden magically everything will be OK. Somebody has to know when to have the child taken out and evaluated or the whole thing breaks down."
"Changes in athlete attitudes on reporting concussive symptoms will likely not be accomplished through legislation alone." Am J Sports Med. 2014
How can leagues, clubs, and schools be proactive? Developing policies and providing both coach and parent education are a start, but without a centralized incident management and reporting system, organizations are leaving themselves in a precarious situation.
TeamSafe®Sports was developed with input from a team of U.S. team doctors and trainers, emergency room physicians, pediatricians, professional athletes, parents, coaches, athletic directors, league administrators, and an emergency medical services operator. Our goal was to address these issues head on in order to mitigate risk and let you focus on running your organization.
The quest for safety is not antithetical to encouraging youth sports participation—safety is an essential building block for increasing youth sports participation.
We make registration with TeamSafe®Sports easy. All your organization has to do is upload the league database to the TeamSafe®Sports web portal and that's it! We create your organization's account and your parents and coaches are automatically emailed a link to download the TeamSafe®Sports app. Learn more about this process....