Archive for the ‘Risk Management’ Category

Treating Heat Stress in Athletes

Delay could be fatal

During preseason football practice, numerous athletes fall victim to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and some will even die. Most cases can be prevented through coach, parent, and player education and by following established guidelines.

These guidelines include preseason physicals or medical clearance, proper hydration, heat acclimatization, equipment modification, activity modification, postponement/cancellation based upon wet bulb temperature index, and recognition/treatment. I was recently reading one of my favorite sports risk management publications, From Gym to Jury, and came across an excellent article that you can read by clicking on the link below.

Source: Frederick Mueller, “Heat Stress and Athletic Participation, From Gym to Jury, Vol. 24, No 2.

Set Up a Sex Abuse/Molestation Protection Program (Infographic)

Create a Hostile Environment

Whenever a sexual abuse/molestation (SAM) incident occurs, a civil lawsuit will likely be filed not only against the alleged perpetrator, but the organization, officers, board and others for failure to adequately screen staff, failure to implement policies and procedures to prevent an incident, and failure to appropriately respond to an allegation. Most insurance carriers that write SAM coverage on sports organizations won’t offer the coverage unless the organization has implemented certain controls that impact these areas.

Most sports and recreation organizations rely exclusively on running criminal background checks on all staff with access to youth. While this is required by case law and is a minimum level of due diligence, the effectiveness of solely relying on criminal background checks is questionable. This is because studies indicate that only about 5% of all predators have a criminal background that could even be discoverable upon running a background check. Therefore, the question becomes what is your sports organization doing to protect against the other 95%?

What it should be doing is educating administrators and staff to create a hostile environment for predators, implementing simple policies and procedures, and implementing an allegation response plan that requires notification of law enforcement.

 

[sc:InfoGraphic imagealt=”SAM” imageurl=”https://www.sadlersports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/SAM-Risk-Managment.jpg” imagewidth=”600″ imageheight=”1733″ permalink=”https://www.sadlersports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/SAM-Risk-Managment.jpg” infographictitle=”SAM” ]

Many sports organizations get into SAM risk management by just shooting from the hip and running background checks without putting much thought into the entire process and what can go wrong along the way. Below are potential risks organizations expose themselves to when no proper SAM risk management program is in place:

  • Slander, libel, and invasion of privacy lawsuits against the organization if background check results are not kept confidential.
  • Illegal questions on staff application form and consent to run background check form.
  • Unequal treatment of different candidates and resulting litigation due to lack of predetermined, written disqualification criteria.
  • Failure to properly understand the nature of a conviction on a criminal background check and misclassification of the offense.
  • Failure to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other similar laws.
  • Failure to have written policies and procedures in place to make an incident less likely to occur.
  • Failure to have allegation response procedures in place, including a requirement to notify law enforcement.

Sex Abuse/Molestation Risk Management Program

We recommend that a sports organization implement our written Sex Abuse/Molestation Risk Management Program which provides important administrator and staff education on the topic and protects against the above mentioned pitfalls. This program is available as a Microsoft Word document format (7 pages) entitled Sample Abuse/Molestation Plan that can be easily customized for a specific sports organization.  Current Sadler clients should access the latest and most up-to-date version of this document under the password protected section after entering the password  provided with their proof of coverage email upon binding of coverage. On the other hand, sports organizations that are not current Sadler clients should access this document under the unrestricted access section of the webpage available to general public.

However, we realize that some sports organizations may not want to adopt and implement our recommended SAM risk management program even though it is incredibly simple and we have already done just about all the work on their behalf. For these organizations, we offer a 1-page SAM risk management program that provides a basic educational program for administrators and staff. It includes written policies and procedures to make an incident less likely to occur and provides instructions on how to appropriately respond to an allegation. This 1-page SAM program can be found in our risk management library  under the document entitled Child Abuse/Molestation Protection Program – Administrators (short form).

Educational videos

In addition, we offer the following free educational training videos to our clients, which can be found under the password protected section of our risk management page:

  • How To Implement An Abuse/Molestation Risk Management Program – Administrators (14 minutes)
  • Abuse/Molestation Awareness Training – Administrators and Staff (28 minutes)

Protecting your league from injury claims

Did you know that liability protection is critical for all teams and leagues? It only takes one injury-related lawsuit to financially ruin your organization. Having the right insurance protection offers you peace of mind.

Purchasing the ight insurance coverage does not have to be complicated. The SADLER insurance experts understand your needs and the unique risks associated with your organization. Learn more about liability prevention by calling us at 800-622-7370, or apply for a customized insurance quote online now. There are absolutely no obligations, and most quotes will be sent in just a few hours. With no application fees and the most competitive rates in the industry, what have you got to lose?

 

Youth Football Concussions During Practice

Results of study surprise many

In a prior blog on concussion rule changes, we stated that the new Pop Warner Football concussion rule to limit contact in practice would have a limited effect as only 28 percent of all youth football concussions occur in practice according to American Youth Football (AYF) injury statistics.

Now, a new study by the University Of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and funded by the NFL has drawn a similar but more compelling conclusion. The study found that youth tackle football players aged 8 to 12 were at a low risk of suffering a concussion in practice.  (.024 incidences per 1000 exposures), but that the risk was 26 times higher in games (6.16 incidences per 1000 exposures).

“This finding suggests that reducing contact-practice exposures in youth football, which some leagues have done recently, will likely have little effect on reducing concussion risk, as few concussions actually occur in practice. Instead of reducing contact-practice time, youth football leagues should focus on awareness and education about concussions,” said Anthony Kontos, an associate professor at UPMC.

Many experts agree that practice time should focus on proper tackling techniques and instruction instead of head contact.

Leaning on science, not the media

These recommendations are exactly what AYF has been preaching. We recommend against knee jerk reactions to the media frenzy on the concussion issue.  Making hasty safety rule decisions that are not backed by science isn’t a wise move. Instead, wait on the results from the ongoing scientific studies.  In the meantime, focus on educating coaches on recognizing the signs and symptoms of concussions, concussed player removal and medical treatment, and return-to-play protocol. In addition, concentrate on proper tackling technique.

AYF has included concussion awareness training in its coach certification program.

More interesting statistics from the study

The incident rate of concussions in practice and games combined is three times higher in the 11 to 12-year-old age category as compared to 8 to 10-year-old age category.  Just as the AYF injury studies have revealed, there is a direct correlation between age and injuries in youth tackle football. The older athletes are stronger, faster, and more coordinated, hitting with harder force. See our prior blog on the issue of age only vs age/weight categories.

Player in the “skill positions of  quarterback, running back, and linebacker make up 95 percent of youth football concussions.


Source: “Study: Kids Get Fewer Concussions In Practices Than In Games.” www.footballcoachdaily.com. June 6, 2013.

American Youth Football and American Youth Cheer Insurance

The Gold Standard

The risky world of youth tackle and cheer

In the high risk world of youth tackle football, flag, & cheer, risk is everywhere in the form of concussions, spinal injuries, cheer stunts, sex abuse and molestation, lack of supervision, lack of instruction, premises problems, equipment problems, etc. In this world, administrators and staff (volunteer and paid) are putting their personal assets on the chopping block every day should an unfortunate mishap occur and result in a lawsuit. This is especially true if the insurance that was purchased to protect against this risk is inadequate.

Competitors often offer inadequate coverage to AYF/AYC

What is inadequate insurance? It could be that the limits are not high enough, but the more common situation occurs when the coverage within the limits includes unacceptable coverage exclusions or loopholes. And these unacceptable coverage exclusions are much more common than you may think, and can even exist if the program is another national association program. Sadler Sports Insurance has fought the battle against these unacceptable exclusions for many years by both educating the public and our competitors. We bring a problem area to the attention of our clients and offer a custom solution Then, within the next year or two, our competitors adopt it and act like it was their idea all along.

But competitors who merely attempt to copy the industry leader are not innovators and will always lag behind.

As for inadequate limits, many organizations no longer feel comfortable with an Each Occurrence Limit of only $1 million. After all, youth tackle football and cheer is more risky compared to some other popular sports. Therefore, an Each Occurrence limit of $2 million or $5 million should be strongly considered. The Each Occurrence limit applies to the amount that is available to respond to any single lawsuit.

The General Aggregate limit is a whole different issue. The General Aggregate is the amount that is available to respond to multiple lawsuits during the policy year. Many competitors offer a General Liability Each Occurrence Limit of $1 million and a General Aggregate limit of $2 million. A General Aggregate limit of at least $5 million may be necessary in the event that multiple lawsuits are filed during the same policy year. One recent concern in this area is the possibility of class action lawsuits by players over brain damage caused by sub-concussive impacts YOUTH FOOTBALL(CTE) from helmet-to-helmet hits. The jury is still very much out on this issue and hopefully such talk is just media hype. However, the possibility does exist.

AYF is leading the way with coach training in the area of concussions and the endorsed insurance program is structured in such a way as to offer superior protection to that of most competing programs.

Examples of common unacceptable exclusions under a General Liability policy include but are not limited to:

  • volunteer vs volunteer
  • participant vs participant
  • player vs player
  • cheer stunts and pyramiding
  • bleacher collapse
  • contractual liability limitation
  • sexual abuse and molestation
  • warranty of waiver/release, warranty of concussion training
  • punitive damages
  • assault and battery
  • athletic participant

We provide a checklist that can be used to analyze a competitor’s program against the AYF/AYC endorsed program, which is especially instructive in terms of revealing unacceptable exclusions.  Sadler Sports Insurance would be glad to assist in the comparison process if you can provide a copy of the competitor’s actual policy forms (Accident and General Liability). Unfortunately, you really don’t know much if you are relying on a competitor’s certificate of insurance or proposal as those documents are not required to include information on the policy exclusions.

Beware of competitor claims that seem too good to be true

A certain amount of self promotion and puffery is expected when advertising any product or service. However, some competitors may claim to have the best and lowest priced insurance product in the market as an attention grabber but that may not be the case after the dust settles. Whenever a claim or offer sounds too good to be true, it always is too good to be true in my experience. The incredible, attractive offer usually does not hold up due to the following reasons:Football Cheerleader

  1. The coverage is not comparable in terms of policies offered (Accident policy not included in price), policy limits are too low, or it includes unacceptable exclusions from coverage.
  2. The initial quote provided ends up being much lower than the final proposal because it was based on a suppressed number of teams or participants. In the meantime, you have wasted hours of time in providing information just to get the final proposal.

Other advantages of the endorsed AYF/AYC insurance program

Only the endorsed AYF/AYC program offers an instant online proposal, payment, binding of coverage, and issuance of proof of coverage documents and certificates of insurance for field owners in real time. This entire process can take days or weeks with our competitors and can be very frustrating when not having a certificate of insurance is keeping you off the practice field.

All of the Accident claims data from the endorsed program is compiled in a special software program that crunches the numbers in a way to produce meaningful information about how injuries can be prevented and how the game can be modified, if necessary, to promote safety. This data has already been used to illustrate that age only divisions in youth tackle football are no more risky than age/weight divisions. When you participate in the endorsed program, your loss data is used in a meaningful way to improve the safety of the game.

We offer free best-in-industry risk management content including articles, forms, risk management program templates, and training videos on general safety and sex abuse/molestation protection in the risk management section of our website.

The AYF/AYC endorsed insurance program is the industry leader and offers the best protection now and in the future for the players, volunteers, administrators, and youth football industry.

Sadler Interviewed in Rough Notes Magazine

Sadler Insurance president sought for insight on amateur athletics risks

John Sadler was interviewed and widely quoted in the April 2013 edition of the insurance trade industry publication, Rough Notes. In an article entitled “Knowledge To Win In Amateur Athletics”, Sadler was quoted on a variety of topics as follows:

  • The increased risks of travel teams over recreational teams in terms of more intense competition, auto IMG_3490exposure from frequent travel, and motel downtime incidents such as drownings and near drownings.
  • Increased prevalence of individual sports instructors looking for General Liability and Professional Liability Coverage.
  • Carriers taking the sex abuse and molestation risk more seriously in wake of the Sandusky scandal by mandating risk management that goes beyond the passing of a criminal background check. Examples include the adoption of written policies and procedures such as the use of a buddy system where a single adult is never alone with a single unrelated child and an incident response plan that requires notification of law enforcement.
  • New carrier fears over concussion exposures and the imposing of Participant Legal Liability policy aggregates for larger associations that will cap total losses in a single policy year.
  • The new emerging cyber threats of hacker access to confidential information and media liability arising out of the posting of defamatory content on sports organization websites and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • The need for coach Professional Liability coverage for those frivolous lawsuits in which coaches are sued for benching an athlete or improper coaching that allegedly results in loss of a college scholarship or pro career.

Source: Knowledge To Win In Amateur Athletics; Rough Notes, April 2013

Stricter Underwriting Guidelines for Colleges

Sandusky scandal prompts carriers to reassess policies

Due to the Penn State scandal over Sandusky and the incidents of sexual abuse/molestation, insurance carriers are now more apt to tighten underwriting and require more information from schools regarding their preventive measures.

“Insurers will require more data from colleges to find out what other programs they may offer. I think insurers will pay more attention to what takes place during summer months, all the camps that take place, what procedures are in place and how schools are monitoring the environment,” said Bill Waldorf, president of a brokerage that offers insurance for schools.

Waldorf also pointed that all higher education facilities have  exposures to children because they provide daycare, childhood learning programs, athletic activities and/or summer camps.

In addition, msexual abuse/molestationany high school students who are either taking advanced placement courses or visiting for recruitment purposes , and other youth on campus for athletic events, concerts, and faith-based programs are all vulnerable.

Most General Liability underwriters in the sports and recreation niche will be looking for the following elements as a precondition for offering sexual abuse/molestation coverage:

  • Criminal background checks on all paid and volunteer staff with access to youth
  • Written policies and procedures to make an incident less likely to occur
  • Written allegation response plan including a requirement to notify law enforcement

Also, many college and university insurance carriers may no longer underwrite camp exposure and may require camps to take out their own General Liability including coverage for sexual abuse and molestation. Here is the link to the Sadler Camp Insurance Program.

We have more information on sexual abuse and molestation risk management in our library.

Source: Insurance Journal, East, 2012/07/19

Online Training for Youth Sports Administrators

Volunteers need program management skills

Typically, volunteer administrators who supervise youth sports programs are unprepared to deal with the responsibilities of this position. This can result in inefficiencies, legal problems and adverse publicity.

Volunteer trainingThese individuals wear many hats and manage numerous league job functions such as equipment, safety, insurance for teams, background checks for staff, social media, marketing, as well finances and legal matters.

The National Youth Sports Administrators Association has an online training program that provides education in these areas and assists with making youth sports a safe and satisfying experience for all involved.

John Sadler assisted with the course development on the insurance section. See our NYSCA-endorsed team/league sports insurance program. 

Source: Sporting Kid; Fred Engh; Summer 2012

Weight Limits in Youth Tackle Football

Are they necessary for protecting lighter players?

A study of injuries occurring from 2009 to 2011 in American Youth Football, Inc. indicates that the risks of injuries to lighter players is about the same in the weighted (age groups and maximum weights for all players), modified (age groups and maximum weights for ball carriers only), and unlimited (age groups only) divisions. This is the most recent study to shed light on the hotly debated topic within the youth tackle football community on the pros and cons of weighted vs. unlimited divisions.

A prior Mayo Clinic Study concluded that the number one predictor of injuries in youth tackle football is age and that weight groups would not appear to protect players. The study found that the risk of injury to an eighth grader was four times the risk of injury to a fourth grader. Therefore, the higher the age, the higher the chance of injury, and as a result, correct age groupings are critical to limiting injuries.

The American Youth Football, Inc. study tracked the progression of injuries to players of various weight categories through the weighted, modified, and unlimited divisions. The percentage of total injuries to lighter players (both below average and significantly below average) was about the same regardless of the division in which they participated. The percentage of total injuries to below average weight players ranged from 9.25% (weighted) to 11.50% (modified) to 8.96% (unlimited). The percentage of total injuries to significantly below average weight players ranged from 0.00% (weighted) to .30% (modified) to .71% (unlimited).

Most scientists and doctors who have studied the issue speculate that older players are injured more frequently because they run faster, hit harder, and are more aggressive. However, youth players who are larger don’t necessarily impact with more force if they aren’t fast and strong.

American Youth Football, Inc. and Sadler Sports Insurance are dedicated to giving back to the youth football and cheer community with critical studies on safety issues that impact the quality of the sports experience. All participants in the endorsed AYF Accident/General Liability insurance plan contribute data to these important studies.

See the full version of American Youth Football study on injuries to lighter players in weighted vs modified vs unlimited divisions. And you can read our earlier article debating weighted vs unlimited and a link to the Mayo Clinic study.

Source: John Sadler; Sadler Sports Insurance; American Youth Football, Inc. Accident Insurance Claim Database

Super Bowl Insurance and Risk Management

More at risk than the main event

Special sport events insuranceSuper Bowl fans are likely unaware of the risk exposures of the event and those extending far beyond the venue’s gates. Planning of an event the size and scope of a Super Bowl begins years in advance. The types of insurance policies typically needed for a Super Bowl-type of event are spread among multiple insurance carriers and include the following:

  • General Liability and Excess (limits may exceed $100 million)
  • Property
  • Media Liability
  • Event Cancellation
  • Weather Insurance

And there are Super Bowl exposures that require risk management controls:

  • The event itself, including field, stands, and surrounding parking lots for the normal exposures of slip/trip/fall, crowd management, and security
  • Preparation for potential terrorist attacks, including prevention and response
  • Halftime show with all the people on stage and fireworks
  • Pre-game airplane flyover
  • Adverse weather that prevents participant and ticketholder arrivals and departures, including postponement and cancellation contingency plans.
  • Surrounding activities such as pep rallies, parties, entertainment events, etc.
  • Collapse and other liability resulting from temporary event structures such as stages, bleachers, platforms, tents etc.
Source: Planners Tackle Super Bowl Risks, Rodd Zolkos, Business Insurance, January 30, 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.