Archive for the ‘Softball’ Category

Protecting Against Risk of Commotio Cordis

Study shows new chest protector is effective and youth athletes most at risk.

Athletic chest protectors are critical to the safety of hockey and lacrosse goalies, baseball/softball catchers, and umpires. There is a wide assortment of chest protectors on the market, most of which have proven to be less than adequate against serious injury and can give a false sense of security.

But one manufacturer’s product apparently now offers better protection from potentially fatal blows to the chest.

The Unequal Technologies HART Chest Protector have proven 95 percent effective in the prevention of Commotio cordis,  according to a study published in The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. Commotio cordis is a sudden disruption of the cardiac rhythm caused by a forceful impact to the chest that often results in fatal cardiac arrest.

Unequal Technologies develops protective padding for a variety of athletic of headgear, including the popular Halo headband.

Youth athletes under the age of 16 are most at risk from such incidents. About 10 to 20 cases occur annually in the U.S. More than one-third of Commotio cordis incidents occur in athletes wearing chest protectors, according to a study published in 2013. Therefore, it’s paramount that appropriate padding is properly placed.

For more information on Commotio cordis, click here.

Source: “Study Finds Unequal Technologies’ Chest Protectors To Be First To Significantly Reduce Risk Cardiac Concussions For Youth Athletes,” 22 April, 2016.

Youth Baseball and Eye Injuries

Looking at preventative measures

As everyone know, baseball season is now in full swing. But what many probably don’t know is that youth athletes under the age of 14 incur more eye injuries in baseball and softball than any other sport. In rare instances, these injuries can result in permanent damage or even blindness.

Overall, there are more than 40,000 eye injuries reported each year, most occurring in baseball and basketball, followed by water and racquet sports. Balls, bats, pucks, racquets, and sticks are used in the sports that pose the highest risk for eye injuries. These sports also typically include body contact.

The leading cause of child blindness in the U.S. is injury, with most cases occurring in sports-related activities, according to the National Eye Institute. Penetration, blunt trauma and radiation are the most common causes of sports-related eye injuries. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can result in radiation damage, which can be a particular risk when snow skiing, water skiing and participating in other water and snow sports.

Prevention measures

According to Jay Novetsky, 90% of sports-related eye injuries are preventable. Novetsky, an eye surgeon at the Vision Institute of Michigan, advocates for protective eyewear as part of every sports’ regulated safety equipment, such as safety shields, safety glasses, goggles and eye guards.

To specifically prevent injuries in baseball, batting helmets can be fitted with protective face guards and fielders can wear safety-certified sports goggles.

Many people don’t realize  that prescription glasses (and sunglasses) worn during play not only don’t offer protection, but they increase the risk of eye injury. Street eyeglasses and contacts can easily shatter upon impact and puncture the eye and surrounding areas.  Athletes who wear glasses or contacts can usually have their prescriptions matched in protective eyewear.

Return to Play

In order to return to play following an eye injury, the eye should be pain free, cause no discomfort and vision returned to normal. Release by an ophthalmologist should be required before an player with a serious eye injury returns to play. The team physician or athletic trainer should be able to determine if and when players with less serious eye injuries can return. Athletes returning to play following an eye injury should be required to wear eye protection to avoid a second injury.

Source: “Baseball Ranks #1 in Sports-related Eye Injuries for Kids.”. 14 April, 2016.

High School Facing Title IX Complaint Over Softball Fields

Posted | Filed under Legal, Softball

Softball parents cry foul over field conditions

What should evoke feelings of nostalgia and pride have instead propelled parents at Lexington High School into legal action. The South Carolina school’s aging softball field is in need of improvements, according to Tanya McCraw. Her daughter still plays there where she played while attending the school in the mid 1990s.

The players’ parents claim the girls’ softball and boys’ baseball facilities are unequal and that their complaints are being ignored. They have filed a Title IX complaint, insisting there are serious safety issues that need addressed.

Parents’ list of complaints include:

  • A storm drain in foul territory along left field line is uncovered posing a trip hazard.
  • The home plate backstop isn’t adequately padded to protect players or fans.
  • The outfield is dimly in areas and is riddled by divots from by bands that use the field to practice.
  • The dressing area is so small that players often change their uniforms in their cars.
  • Dugouts are small and have dirt floors that turn to mud during heavy rains.

What’s in dispute

Officials from the school district say minor problems on the field are being addressed but reject claims of any dangerous conditions. The school replaced lights that were burnt out, is removing mold from the concession stand, and already installed plastic piping along the top of the fences.

But an upgrade to the 24-year-old field would need to be added to a plan that’s already in development for renovations and new facilities, according to district officials. And that would require voters agreeing to a raise in property taxes. Even then, the improvements wouldn’t be made until 2018.

A recent $1.5 million upgrade to the boys’ field include a new backstop, bleachers and dugouts. Funds for that project came from money saved on other project. The boys also have an indoor practice facility, which was built with donated money.

Understanding Title IX

School districts and private educational institutions that receive federal funds need to be aware of Title IX and the potential for litigation and should respond accordingly to make sure that illegal disparities between boys and girls facilities don’t exist. Title IX claims and their legal defense may potentially be covered under a Directors & Officers Liability policy depending on how the complaint is worded.


Fortunately, all’s well that end’s well. While the school district never admitted to violations of Title IX requirements, they did agree to make upgrades. Upcoming renovations include improved lighting, dugouts, backstop, fencing, sound system, practice facilities. Access to weight training for female players, additional fan seating, improved restrooms and a new concession stand are also in the plans. Read about it here.

Source: Tim Flach, “Lexington High’s softball field is unsafe, players’ parents say,” 10 March, 2016.

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.

UF Softball’s Great Bambina

Gator pitcher ties the Babe’s record

University of Florida senior Lauren Haeger tied Babe Ruth’s record of pitching at least 70 winning games and hitting at least 70 home runs. Nicknamed the Haeger Bomb, the Gator pitcher is a wildly popular player who boosted ESPN’s prime-time broadcast of the last three games of the Women’s College World Series to 2 million.

Haeger is idolized by thousands of young softball playing girls who want to be just like her.

“It’s great to be a role model for them and show them it can happen because I was once in their shoes,” said Haeger.

Haeger is a product of the UF athletic program, which is serious about gender equity. Athletic director Jeremy Foley has watched his Gator teams  win the SEC All-Sports Trophy 22 of the last 23 years and 14 national titles since 2008 (more than than any school in the country). The UF women have won 10 national titles in the last five years.


Source: Mike Bianchi, “Bianchi: Haeger’s sunflower power is reason Gators softball outdraws NHL,”, 06 June, 2015.

Benching of Youth Participants and Resulting Lawsuits

Parents who pay want their child to play

It’s not yet what you’d call a trend, but there’s certainly an uptick in the number of parents filing lawsuits to get their child off the bench and onto the playing field.

Parents put out big bucks in registrations fees, equipment and travel costs associated with high school and youth club and travel teams, to say nothing of the time they invest attending practices and traveling to games. Many parents sacrifice their time and money for their children hoping to get the attention of college coaches, earn scholarships, and improve chances of college admissions – or even advance a professional athletic career. So, it’s understandable that some are dissatisfied when their child rides the bench more than he or she plays. In other words, they expect a payoff for their investment.

There is also an increase in lawsuits by parents of children who have been cut from teams, injured, disciplined by coaches or penalized by officials. But is hiring an attorney the answer? Many are questioning not only the attitude of entitlement, but how the children, who generally play for the fun and camaraderie, are affected by such lawsuits. What are the children learning when parents step in so heavily handed to smooth the way? Will they learn they’re entitled to play on a team simply because they attend practice? And are parents setting these athletes up to be bullied by other team members?

The increasingly competitive nature of youth sports has helped shift many parents’ focus from fun, exercise and sportsmanship to an investment in their children’s academic and professional futures. Youth sports officials are watching the case of a 16-year-old volleyball player. The girl earned spot on a volleyball league but ended up on the bench, so her parents filed suit against the volleyball association, alleging it won’t let the girl play or to switch teams, per the contract she signed.

General Liability policies, which typically only respond to certain lawsuits alleging bodily injury or property damage, don’t cover these types of lawsuits that allege loss of college scholarship or loss of pro career. Such lawsuits generally require a Professional Liability endorsement on a General Liability policy or a stand alone Professional Liability policy.

Source: Tracey Schelmetic,, 21 Apr. 2015.

Applying Title IX to Municipal Field Usage

Do girls have equal rights to field usage?

A client in Oregon contacted me about a problem the local softball league is having as regards access to fields. I doubt this problem is unique, and perhaps other organizations can benefit  from this information.

The local rec baseball and softball teams share a municipal ballpark, which includes multiple practice fields. Apparently, the girls are not given equitable field time except in the fall, when the boys don’t play.The softball teams have offered to help maintain and build fields to pull their weight, to no avail.

The coach asks if Title IX or another statute applies in this case since the fields are part of a public facility.

According to our research, Title IX does not apply to municipalities unless the public facilities were being used for school-based programs. However, the equal protection clause provides an avenue to request injunctive relief if that becomes necessary. However, that can certainly be avoided if the municipality would simply allot field space based on the percentage of boys teams vs. girls teams. For example, if there are 75 boys teams and 25 girls teams, the girls teams should have access to 25% of the prime practice opportunities.

Understanding how the law works can help girls gain access to fields and can help the municipality stay out of trouble.

If you have a question or concern about your sports organization, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Congratulations, J. Sandy Jones!

Posted | Filed under Softball

Dixie Boys Commissions Inducted into Alabama Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame

Congratulations to our client, J. Sandy Jones, the commissioner of Dixie Boys Baseball, Inc., on his induction into the Alabama Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame. Induction ceremonies will be held January 19, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

AASA Sandy Photo 1 Jones played competitive softball for 28 years. During that time he participated in 12 national tournaments, was named to two all-American teams, and was a team member with many of the best teams in the state of Alabama. Teams that Jones participated with won seven state championships. Two of the teams that Sandy participated with during his career were ranked as one of top-20 teams in the nation.

Sandy ended his slow-pitch softball career in 1999 with his team ASA State Championswinning the Class B ASA National Championship. Jones was named to an all-American team for the second time. The championship team was sponsored by Caraway Steel and based out of Auburn, Alabama. The 1999 year had Jones batting in the lead-off position for most of the year and posting a .709 season average.

“You meet many great people through playing softball, including the players, umpires and those that manage the tournaments and program on behalf of ASA. During my playing career, I wanted to be a good ambassador for the game by displaying a spirit of good sportsmanship at all times, a real desire for fair play and a real respect for the game including my opponents, the umpires and tournament officials.” – Sandy Jones, Commissioner/CEO (1995 – present)

S.C. Supreme Court Tosses Softball Suit

Rules softball is a contact sport with inherent risks

In March 2004, Jeff Wagner joined a father-son pickup softball game at a Boy Scout camping trip.  During the game Wagner and another father, David Cole collided, resulting in a broken rib for Wagner.  Cole suffered a head wound, went into convulsions, and then spent a few days in intensive care.  Personal distress and injuries led Cole and his son to sue the Boy Scouts and Wagner.

The South Carolina Supreme Court wrote in its opinion that despite Cole playing in a casual game in which teams weren’t even keeping score, he was still playing softball, which is considered a contact sport. In tossing out the claim, the court stated, “Where a person chooses to participate in a contact sport, whatever the level of play, he assumes the risks inherent in that sport.”

Source: Insurance Journal, 2011

Protecting Players Against Hot Bats

Posted | Filed under Injury, Softball

ASA Softball Takes Preventive Steps

Click here to access an interesting Question & Answer from the American Softball Association (ASA) regarding the issue of hot bats and their bat testing protocol. The article discusses compression testing performed in the field by ASA personnel, lab testing, non-approved bat lists, and Track Man Doppler radar to test batted ball speeds under actual field conditions.