Archive for the ‘Gymnastics and Cheer Gym’ Category

Top 5 Sports Risks Resulting in Insurance Claims

You need to know them to try to prevent them, but sports insurance still a must

Accidents can happen any time, to anyone, on and off the sports field. Many aren’t even related to playing the sport itself, and many result in serious injuries. Sadly, a large portion of them can be prevented with a little attention to hot spots and putting into place proven risk management policies. However, others are just part of the game.

We take pride in offering our clients risk management advice in an effort to prevent claims. We hope you’ll be able to avoid making the top 5 list:

  1. Wayward balls are the cause of more claims for damages and injuries than anything else in sports. Baseballs in particular are high-speed missiles that slam into players, dugouts, spectators, cars, windows, and anything else in their path. Wild pitches, overthrown lacrosse balls and basketballs, and baseballs hit out of the park are only some of ways balls can cause injuries. A real horror story to a client occurred when an assistant coach was struck in the face by a pitched baseball while warming up the pitcher. He later lapsed into a coma and died of his injuries resulting in total claims cost of $1,001,000.
  2. Falls by players, coaches, spectators, groundskeepers and officials are by far the most common sports injury. Holes in the field, slippery or wet surfaces, obstacles in or around the field, bases, field markers, and equipment cause people to fall. Falls from bleachers, benches, ladders, playground equipment, backstops, and goals are also not uncommon. Broken, sprained or twisted limbs can result in expensive medical bills and even time off work. Falls can even result result in death.  One of our baseball leagues had a claim that settled for $41,781 where a spectator fractured both ankles after stepping in a washed out grassy area of a ballpark.
  3. Vehicles of all sorts are involved in numerous sports-related claims. Many can be avoided if parking and traffic flow signage is displayed properly. Delivery trucks backing into concession stands, golf carts and riding mowers overturning, tents and awnings collapsing on vehicles, tractors hitting parked cars, vandalism, and balls flying through windshields are common incidents at the ballpark. One of our baseball leagues experienced a claim where a person was injured by being pinned between a scoreboard table and golf cart with a resulting settlement of $50,000.
  4. Roughhousing and unsupervised children can cause all sorts of mayhem. Playing or climbing on goals, vehicles, bleachers, gates and fences frequently ends in injuries. This includes unattended children in play areas, near water, or in wooded areas of the park. It’s also not unusual for players to be swinging bats or tossing/kicking balls in areas where others can be hurt, such as concession areas, parking lots and near bleachers. And in heated competitions, it’s not unusual for fights to break out among spectators or between players on the field. An example of this type of claim was when one of our local league clients was sued as a result of children climbing on statue at an awards banquet which caused $4,789 in damage to Sports insurance claimsa water fountain.
  5. Player collisions with other players, spectators and equipment are common. Baseball, soccer, football, and basketball players frequently collide with one another on the field, often resulting in concussions, fractured limbs, and other injuries. Basketball and football players often crash into spectators on the sidelines. And it’s not unusual for players to collide with teammates and coaches on the bench, down markers, goals, and bleachers. One of our clients had a situation where a youth football player was driven into a 1st down marker and fractured his arm. The insurance settlement was $75,000.

These are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to accidents that can happen in and around sports. The examples listed on this page are expected to occur with some frequency. However, it’s often the unexpected types of claims that result in some of the largest payouts. You just never know what can happen and that’s why you must have quality sports insurance. We have a whole list of horror stories about what can go wrong on our risk management page, which also includes lots of free risk management material.

Fear of Concussions in Youth Sports

More effort in awareness and education needed

The anxiety level among Americans regarding concussions was found to be quite high according to a recent online survey. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center conducted the survey among 2012 Americans over the age of 18. The results highlight the myths and misunderstanding about concussions.

Nearly 90% of those surveyed consider concussions to be a moderate to severe health concern. Nearly one-third of parents said they fear their child will suffer a concussion, and 25% do not allow their children to play contact sports because they fear they’ll suffer a concussion.

Ironically, 26% of the parents surveyed did not seek medical treatment when someone in their family suffered a concussion. Worse, 81% of those surveyed said they would not know the steps to take in treating a concussion if they sustained one.

More statistics from the survey:

  • 87% did not know the definition of a concussion, and 37% admit to being confused as to what a concussion actually is.
  • 58% could not identify headache or dizziness as immediate symptoms of a concussion.
  • Only 34% understand that fatigue is also a symptom and just 13% know that mood changes can also be the result of a concussion.
  • 79% of adults incorrectly think concussions are incurable and that the symptoms can only be managed.

Decreasing the level of fear

Fear of concussion among many parents is affecting their decision to permit their children to participate in contact sports. While there has been much progress in educating coaches, trainers, parents and players about concussion risk management and treatment, there’s much work to be done.

Sports are a healthy physical and social activity for children and teens, and fear of injury should not prevent them from participating. Concussions are treatable and when properly managed, athletes can return to play. “With careful evaluation and treatment by a well-trained specialist, even the most complex injuries are manageable,” says Erin Reynolds, fellowship director of UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.

Click here for the full survey results. We have more articles on concussions on our blog and offer free concussion risk management material in our risk management library.

Source: Susan Manko, “Are American Parents Too Afraid of Concussions?” 05 Oct, 2015.

The Dangers of Cheerleading

Lack of safety standards needs attention

I recently came across a news release from the national media on cheer injuries.  In addition to the usual horror stories, it included the following points of interest:

  • Over the pasta 26 years, 73 cases of catastrophic cheerleading injuries in the U.S. have been traced by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at UNC.  These included fractured skulls or broken necks that led to permanent disabilities and two deaths.
  • According to estimates by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, almost 30,000 cheerleaders are treated in emergency rooms nationCheer Stuntawide each year.
  • Emergency room visits from cheerleaders have tripled since the mid-80’s when cheerleading turned competitive and incorporated high risk gymnastics stunts. Cheerleading popularity and participation also increased during  this time.
  • High risk stunts such as basket tosses, pyramids, and certain tumbling runs top the list for injuries, which are frequently executed on gymnasium floors, grass, and dirt with nothing separating the cheerleader from the hard surfaces.
  • High school cheer is not considered an official sport in most states.  Therefore, cheer doesn’t necessitate the same limits on practice time, safety equipment, or training for coaches that are essential for other high school sports.
  • The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA) requires cheer coaches to be certified in 13 states.  Certification often only requires an online test for coaches, which offers no training in spotting techniques or gymnastics.  And only about a dozen states regulate cheer by the rules that are set by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
  •  NFHS  offers an online cheer coach certification course comparable to the AACCA course.  Yet, each state will determine if the coach is required to take the certification course.
  • In 2010, AACCA  introduced its first set of rules, which bans double twisting dismounts and basket tosses.  However, that rule only applies to the youngest cheerleaders who are on either the elementary, middle or junior high teams.
  • Susan Loomis, the NFHS rulebook editor for spirit teams comments that there is no acting ‘cheer police’ at the high school level.  She herself does not know what the repercussions would be if someone did not follow or broke a rule.

Source:  MSNBC 

Cheer Gym vs. Competition Cheer Squad Insurance

What’s the difference?

Cheerleading is no longer simply a group of girls jumping and yelling along the sidelines of a ball game. It’s a performance sport that has exploded with nationally televised cheer competitions and even big screen movies about cheerleading. This expansion has led to competition cheer squads that go head-to-head for recreation and cheer gyms that are in the businesses of teaching cheerleading and building cheerleading groups for major competitions.

A point of confusion that we encounter when reviewing cheer insurance applications is whether the group is a competition cheer squad or a cheer gym. It is vitally important that the correct insurance coverage is written for the organization and their specific exposures.CheerleadersBlue

Making the determination

Six questions that we always have to ask are:

  1. Are membership dues paid monthly, quarterly, once per season, etc.?
  2. Is the organization’s facility owned, a long term lease, private, etc.?
  3. Is the organization cheering for one team or a competition squad?
  4. How are the coaches compensated?
  5. Is the organization a 501c3 non-profit?
  6. Does a board of directors oversee and run the organization?

We understand that not all applicants fall clearly into a competition squad or cheer gym category, but these questions allow us to make an educated assessment of the needs of the organization and provide the correct cheer insurance coverages.

A cheer squad typically pays fees once per season, uses school/local facilities, cheers as a squad for sporting teams, and is coached by volunteers. A cheer gym usually pays monthly dues, owns or has a long-term lease for a facility, cheers strictly in competitions and pays coaches a salary.

The factors few people take into consideration

There is a difference in premium cheer squad and cheer gym insurance premiums for good reason. The typical cheer squad is exposed to participant and coach injuries. Coverage is provided for the cheer squad itself as well as for the volunteers. Cheer gyms have a much greater risk of exposure than a cheer squad. The following points are taken into account when determining exposures of cheer gyms:

  • The operation or long-term use of a facility creates a property exposure for anyone that comes onto the property and sustains a premises-related injury.
  • Some cheer gyms provide extra services, such as private lessons, birthday parties, after school programs and/or soft play areas.
  • Being run as a business means the coaches of cheer gyms are considered experts in the sport of cheerleading. This increases the standard of care owed to the participants and the bodily injury liability exposure.
  • A professional liability exposure may result if the participant of a cheer gym sues over not being offered a college scholarship, or other expected benefits due to improper coaching.

Being under insured is just as risky as being uninsured. The cheer gym owner/trainer can lose personal assets, future earnings and even their business in the event a lawsuit arises and the correct coverage isn’t in force. No cheer gym owner should take the risk of losing everything in the event of a devastating injury resulting in lawsuit in order to save a few dollars on premium.

Please visit our website for more information on Cheer School & Cheer Gym Insurance and Cheer Squad Insurance.


Cheerleading Should Be Classified as a Sport

The American Academy of Pediatrics weighs in

The American Academy of Pediatrics announced it’s recommendation that cheerleading  be classified as a sport in all 50 states. This would mean cheerleaders would receive the same safety attention as other athletes. Currently, only 29 states classify cheerleading as a sport, an activity that approximately 3 million girls participate in every year. There is an average of 26,000 cheerleading injuries  each year, and there were 37,000 injuries requiring emergency room treatment reported in 2011.

According to NBC Nightly News video below, performing the high-flying lifts and flips requires the skills of a gymnast. Injuries have been surging in terms of broken bones and concussions. In addition, 66% of all catastrophic injuries to high school girls occur in cheerleading. Falling from 15 to 18′ in the air while performing can result in skull fractures, broken necks, and broken bones.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests the following should be mandated:

  • Qualified coaches
  • Better medical care
  • Limits on practice time

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Source: NBC Nightly News

ACL Treatment in Youth Athletes

Delayed treatment increases chance of future knee injuries

Kids who are treated for an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury more than 150 days ACL injuryafter the injury occurred could have a higher chance of future knee injuries.

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center conducted research on children who delayed ACL reconstruction surgery. The results showed that the delay increased the risk of having a medial meniscus or chondral injury in the knee in their future.

The additional injuries can cause prolonged recovery time, hinder their return to play, and worsen the long-term function of their knee.

The research also showed that out of 370 patients who had ACL reconstruction between 2005 and 2011, 200 patients were older than 15 and 170 patients were younger than 15. The study also showed children 15 or older having a higher chance of medial femoral chondral injury.

Source: Sporting Kid; Summer 2012

A Reality Check for Youth Sports Administrators

Learn from the Paterno, Spanier, Curley and McQuery mistakes

This blog post isn’t specifically about the Penn State case and who was or wasn’t fired. Rather it’s a reality check for all involved with youth: no one is invincible. Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Mike McQuery did not commit the physical crimes against children that Jerry Sandusky did.  However, they were responsible and liable for their own actions when there is even a hint that someone is abusing a child.

The Penn State case is making national headlines because of its legendary coach and its football program, but it’s important to understand that such behavior occurs frequently in youth sports.  Most readers of this blog are involved in teams/leagues/youth programs in sYouth sports risk managementome capacity or another. Are you a coach, athletic director, team mom or a parent on the sidelines?  Whatever your position, today is the day to step back and realize where exactly you fit into the lives of the kids participating in your youth sports organization.  You are there to protect them at all costs.

Our previous blog post, Child Predators in Youth Sports, is a must read for anyone who is involved with children. It includes a link to a Sports Illustrated article written with the help of actual predators in youth programs detailing how they got away with their crimes. Did you know that, according to the article, studies have found that the average molester victimizes about 120 children before he is caught? That’s extremely disturbing! The blog post also offers useful risk management guidelines that your organization can implement today. And share this post with others so that we all can make a difference.

Follow this link for more articles on preventing sexual abuse and molestation.

Head Injuries and Concussions in Youth Sports

Reducing the chances of inherent sports risks

Concussion diagnosisAll sports carry some type of inherent risk, but what are they? For contact sports, a very common occurrence is the concussion (defined by Websters as “a stunning, damaging, or shattering effect from a hard impact; a jarring injury of the brain resulting in disturbance of cerebral function.”) According to the CNN report below, there is increasing evidence that brain damage actually occurs during a concussion.

What are some ways that your local organization is being pro-active in preventing head injuries or putting measures into place to nurture the injury or prevent further injury once it has occurred?