Posts Tagged ‘Football’

Verbal Abuse, Violence Driving Umpires/Referees Out of Sports

Officials cite verbal abuse and threats as reason for decline

The Washington Post recently ran a story on the shortage of referees in youth sports. It spotlighted several former game officials recounting their many negative experiences. These included instances of verbal abuse by players, coaches and parents, feeling threatened physically, and lack of support from league and school administrators.

One D.C.-area baseball official assigning group is reporting it’s lowest number of umpires in over 25 years. Only 50% of their first-year umpires return to the job. About 20% of those officiating for five to seven years come back. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, just two out of every 10 officials across all sports return for a third year.

Youth soccer, in particular, suffers from a decline in referees, even as player participation continues to rise year after year. Incidences of red cards remains static. But the number of red cards for filthy and abusive language, often directed at officials, has doubled in the past year.

There’s no reason to expect this trend to change any time in the foreseeable future. The increasing referee shortage means even more game cancellations in the future than are already being experienced.

The responsibility of administrators

High school assistant football coach Scott Hartman told of being verbally attacked by players and their coach following a call he made. After the game, parents and fans hurled insults at the other officials and him. The school’s director of student activities escorted them to their cars, but chastised the referees for missing several possible fouls by the opposing team.

You’re the exact reason that we’re losing referees, and you’re the reason that parents and coaches are out of control,” Hartman told him.

Hartman points out that there are schools that make maintaining decorum a priority.

But many administrators are obviously more concerned about wins and losses, not holding coaches accountable for poor behavior.

Virginia’s Commonwealth Soccer Officials Association (CSOA) conducted inspections at Northern Virginia high schools. Loud vocal disapproval was observed in 85% of the 42 matches observed. Of those, profanity by spectators was involved in 20%.
Not surprisingly, female officials suffer all this and more. Many say they encounter sexism at nearly every event, are spat upon and called whores. “I’ve been called that and worse in at least a dozen languages” said long-time soccer official Thea Bruhn.

A tolerant environment

Officiating organizations are accused of encouraging referees to tolerate behavior by fans, players and parents. Other say coaches even dictate to officiating organizations which referees will work certain games.

Personal and advertising injuryOther factors include travel leagues that are full of aggressive parents making demands as they push for college scholarships. And young athletes observe admired professional players berating referees and exhibiting poor sportsmanship.

To participate in games, umpires and referees frequently have to leave their day jobs early and travel good distances. They often return home lateat night. Pay for youth rec through varsity-level leagues ranges from $25 to $65 per game. It’s no wonder many are deciding they’re no longer willing to sacrifice their time and energy when they’re shown so little regard.

We encourage officials to read Referee & Umpire Insurance. For more information or quote on Referee & Umpire Insurance please call us at (800) 622-7370.

Source:  Nick Ellerson.  “Verbal abuse from parents, coaches is causing a referee shortage in youth sports.” 16 June 2017.

2018 Insurance Program Released for American Youth Football

AYFThe gold standard that is the envy of the competition

The American Youth Football and American Youth Cheer endorsed insurance provider, Sadler Sports Insurance, released the new 2018 insurance program for teams /associations /conferences on May 15, 2018.

The 2018 offering is, once again, the gold standard in youth football and cheer insurance with an unbeatable combination of low rates, broad custom coverages, and best-in-industry automation that allows instant online enrollment and issuance of proof of coverage documents and certificates for field owners. But that’s not all: the program also provides best-in-industry risk management resources to prevent injuries before they become claims and groundbreaking studies on safety in youth football and cheer.

Apply, pay, and print proof of coverage documents and certificates in as little as 10 minutes

Our advanced automation is so simple and fast that you can complete the entire insurance purchase transaction and print all your documents in as little as 10 minutes. Many competitors require the completion of forms and days of waiting just to get a quote. Then, once the quote is bound, it can take several days to get the proof of coverage documents and certificates for field owners. Or, they could charge $100 extra for next day rush delivery.

After the purchase, we provide our clients access to our website so that they can self-issue certificates for new field owners 24/7. It’s so easy and our clients love this benefit.

Competitors take major rate increases

Most of our competitors have taken major increases over the past several years due to concussion litigation as well as other losses. However, our program remains stable with an average 2018 rate increase on the Accident/General Liability of only 3%. We will have no rate increase on our D&O, Crime, and Equipment policies.

What is being done to combat the risk of concussion/brain injury and related litigation?

Sadler Sports Insurance provides a sample Football/Cheer Concussion Awareness Risk Management Program (short form) that is strongly recommended for all teams/associations/conferences. This free program can be found under the risk management section of our AYF Insurance page. This program consolidates accepted risk management practices into a three-page document for easy board adoption and implementation. We recommend coaches complete the AYF coaching education program. Certification is required of head football and cheer coaches participating in AYF national championships. We also encourage coaches, volunteers and players view our Seahawks’ tackle resources page which demonstrates their tackling methods. AYF has provided a certification test to take in conjunction with this video on It is important for all teams/association/conferences to thicken their shields by adopting and fully implementing a comprehensive concussion/brain injury risk management program. The future of our sports depends on this action and it’s the right thing to do to protect the kids.

Check out our new risk management reports

We developed the following risk management reports to keep our clients up to date in critical areas:

Guide To Preventing Heat Stroke Death In Youth Tackle Football This comprehensive awareness training article was produced as a result of a recent heat illness death.

New Safe Sport Act Applies To Most Amateur Sports Organizations This new federal act signed into law in February of 2018 increases the standard of care required to protect youth against child abuse, molestation, and other forms of misconduct.

SafeSport Child Abuse And Other Misconduct Risk Management Plan We developed this risk management awareness program for our leagues to help them comply with the new Safe Sport Act standards.

Parade Float Risk Management For Sports Organizations Two of our largest claims have arisen out of parade float accidents where participants have fallen from floats and have been run over resulting in significant injuries. This article will help to reduce the risk of future parade float accidents.

Best-in-industry risk management resources (free)

We have an incredible line up of free risk management resources including articles, legal forms, risk management program templates for your easy adoption and customization, and training videos for administrators and staff. This includes the newly created document entitled Sample AYF/AYC Advanced Plan, which is a comprehensive risk management program customized for AYF/AYC organizations.

Be a part of groundbreaking injury studies

If you purchase your insurance through the endorsed insurance program, all Accident claims automatically become part of the database where our custom software analyzes the information to produce meaningful injury reports. This has led to groundbreaking studies on the comparison of injuries in age only vs age/weight categories and the incidence of concussions within AYF/AYC.

Get Quote Now

Please visit our webpage at or call us at 800-622-7370 if you have any questions.


High School Football Benefits vs. Risks

Contrarian voices ignored by media, advocacy groups, and most researchers

Concerns about concussions and other head injuries have a lot of parents debating about whether or not to allow their children to play high school football. But I have been stating for quite some time that I don’t think youth or high school football is doomed and believe that there is credible evidence that recent initiatives on coach/player/parent education, state laws, and brain injury risk management plans are already having a positive impact.

Unfortunately, my opinion isn’t shared by everyone, despite the evidence.

However, I recently came across an opinion piece that I would describe as the contrary voice of sanity amid a sea of sensationalism spurred by the media, advocacy groups, and most researchers. In short, these groups very much need tackle football to be considered dangerous because that is good for business, at least in the short term. There is no denying that advocacy groups and researchers are just doing their job and have provided a valuable service with the heightened awareness of this very real risk. But too often they draw conclusions which are just not backed by good science, at least for youth and high school football. Furthermore, the media is more interested in publishing the reports that will shock their audience as opposed to those with a contrarian view.

The author of the article, who is a father and physician, speaks to that in detail, but also eloquently points out the beneficial aspects of playing football.

Most of the media hype is centered around the NFL concussion lawsuits, the basis of which have nothing to do with youth athletes. The recent Boston University study about increased risks to NFL players who played youth football before age 12 is scientifically flawed. It doesn’t take into account other high risk behaviors of NFL players and there was no control group. Even the researchers admit the limitations of their study. Science and hard facts are what should drive a parent’s decision making on whether a child should or shouldn’t play football. The potential for injury, which is minimal at the youth and high school level, is only one element to consider.

Apparently, the emotional tide is beginning to turn, as the number of high school football participants is slowly rising. As a risk management expert, I encourage you to read Ed Riley’s “High school football’s benefits outweigh the risks” and consider the points he raises. And if, like me, you see the sense he makes, please share it with others.

We have more more posts on this topic on our blog.

Shockstrip External Helmet Pads

Product intended to reduce micro traumatic brain injuries and concussions

Check out for complete information on this new product, including the testing results, coach, player, and parent testimonials, and information on concussions.  Test results include adhesive compatibility, friction coefficient analysis, drop testing, and linear impact testing.

Shockstrip is one of many newly-introduced products that claim to reduce impact forces helmet-to-helmet contact that will reduce the chance of micro traumatic brain injury and concussion.

Shockstrip may void the helmet manufacturer’s warranty but they are offering their own warranty in it’s place.


New Concussion Research Project

Lab dummies, martial artists and boxers used in the study

Concussion testingTwo new studies are being conducted by the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University under the name of the Cleveland Traumatic Neuromechanics Consortium. The purpose of the studies is to prevent head and neck injuries and to develop better treatments.

“There are many more questions than answers about brain injuries,” said Adam Bartsch of the clinic’s Head, Neck, and Spine Research Laboratory. What researchers want to know is what level of force or number of repeated impacts causes temporary or permanent brain damage.

The first part of the study will focus on the testing of football helmets using dummies that are rammed by an air powered device under under various conditions that mimic real life impacts. Researchers hope to learn what can be done to helmets to improve impact absorption and protect the skull. The second part of the study involves studying up to 600 mixed martial arts fighters and boxers over a four-year period.

Source: Research Hopes To Curb Head, Neck Injuries In Athletes; Insurance Journal, April 2, 2012

Concussions and the Future of Football

The potential socio-economic consequences of the concussion crisis

The concerns about head injuries and cognitive problems among football players of all ages continues to mount. Lawsuits continue to be filed by former NFL players andcollege and high school athletes suffering from concussion-related symptoms. Is it possible that the consequences of all this could one day mean the end of football?

There are plenty of doomsday scenarios that would have us think so:

  • Insurance companies may decide against insuring colleges and high schools against football-related lawsuits.
  • Coaches, team physicians, and referees would consider their financial exposure in such a litigious atmosphere.
  • Parents might keep their kids from playing football, and set off a domino effect with other parents.

This could result in the NFL lacking a feeder system and advertisers and networks shying away from the negative publicity. It might take 10 to 15 years, but it could happen under the following circumstances:

  • More players cFootball injuryommit suicide with autopsies revealing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
  • A class-action lawsuit is filed.
  • The NFL changes it policies, but its later proven that less than concussion levels of constant head contact produce CTE.
  • New technology in helmets and pads fail to solve the problem.
  • High schools close their football programs, the Ivy League quits football, California stops participating and busts up the Pac-12. This is followed by the Big Ten and East Coast calling it quits, leaving football as a regional sport in the southeast and Texas/Oklahoma.
  • Advertisers drop like flies.

Hopefully, this doomsday vision will never materialize as youth football, high school, college, and pro organizations will recognize the threat and will be quick to implement:

  • Massive education programs for players, parents, and coaches on the symptoms of concussions, procedures for evaluating possible concussions, removal from play policies, return to play policies, etc.
  • Baseline neuro-psychological testing to compare against post-concussion testing
  • More studies on the effects of cumulative impacts or hits to the head that are not concussions
  • New helmet technology
  • Rule modifications to limit helmet-to-helmet contact

General Liability  insurance carriers that insure football organizations will be following these developments closely as they are concerned about the liability potential.

Source: “What Would the End of Football Look Like?”, Tyler Cohen and Kevin Arier, February 1, 2012.

NFL’s Defense in Concussion Lawsuits

Will NFL use Workers’ Compensation as an exclusive remedy?

More than 20 lawsuits name the NFL as a defendant alleging the league negligently misled hundreds of former players about the dangers of concussions and other head injuries.  The league’s official provider of helmets, Riddell Inc., is  a defendant in some of the suits.

The NFL will probably argue that players who suffered concussions should be covered solely by provisions of the league’s collective bargaining agreement, according to Michael McGlamry, an attorney representing many of the players. Those provisions include workers compensation, disability benefits and the NFL‘s 88 Plan, which covers medical and custodial care of retired NFL players with dementia.

Source: Business Insurance, January 30, 2012

Deadly Concussion Risks

The dangers of returning to play too early

The National Alliance for Youth Sports posted an article citing football as the deadliest sport for youth athletes. The information was gleaned from a study conducted by Barry Maron of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation using information from the National Registry of Sudden Death in Young Athletes.

The study revealed that football accounted for 57 percent of sports deaths among young athletes. Many of those deaths could have been prevented if the athletes with head injuries had been kept off the playing field, according to the research team that scrutinized 30 years of data.

Of the 138 football deaths caused by head or neck injuries, 12 percent were players who returned to the playing field following a concussion. Their deaths were caused by what is called ‘second-impact syndrome.’ Some of these athletes were cleared for play despite displaying symptoms from a previous head injury.

The position of running back was the single most deadly position in football, according to the research, with 33 deaths in 30 years. There were 69 deaths that occurred among various defensive player positions.

Source: “Football Is Deadliest Sport for Young Athletes, Study Finds,” Sporting Kid, Fall 2011, National Alliance For Youth Sports

Chartis Educational Program on Sports Concussions

Chartis insurance (now AIG) has launched a new initiative called “Ahead of hte Game” to enhance public awareness on how to identify the warning signs of sports concussions and the proper response. Their website includes a number of educational materials for coaches/athletic directors, parents/teachers, and athletes. The materials include fact sheest, clipboard sheets, a tip sheet on baseline testing, tip sheet on signs and symptoms, concussion, and a Q&A section.

According to Sadler Sports Insurance’s injury statistics, concussions account for about 5% of all reported injuries under youth tackle football Accident insurance. Due to the potentially catastrophic nature of concussions, this topic deserves long overdue attention.

Chartis is one of many accident insurance carriers that Sadler Sports Insurance represents and makes available to it’s clients.

New State Laws on Sports Concussions

Ironically, it both protects and increases liability

Recent state legislation set guidelines for youth athletes returning to play following a diagnosed concussion. The New York Times published an article on the new laws and the need for increased education among doctors, coaches, parents and players on return-to-play protocols for concussed athletes. It stated in part:

“A Washington state law that mandates strict procedures for handling youth athletes’ concussions has served as a template for similar policies. It has helped shape laws in several other states….

“Modern guidelines state that athletes of all ages and in all sports, after sustaining a concussion, should not return to play until they display no symptoms (like dizziness, headaches, nausea or sensitivity to light or sound) both before and after gradually increasing physical exertion. It is less known that students feeling symptoms should be advised not to tax their cognitive function by playing video games or even studying too hard.

concussion risk management

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Where things go awry

One player’s mother asked her school district to incorporate a baseline neuropsychological testing program to help evaluate when a player has recovered and can return to play, according to the article.  She was told that such testing, “due to liability and legal issues, is not recommended either by the insurance provider” or the state’s interscholastic activities association.

“If you purchase the program, you better be using it consistently and properly, because if you don’t, that opens up liability,” according to a source from the Washington Schools Risk Management Pool. “If you don’t own it at all, then you do not have that liability, and you are not responsible.”

The national media has recently covered high profile lawsuits involving serious injuries and deaths resulting from players returning to action too soon after a concussion and suffering a second, serious or fatal injury. In addition, studies on NFL athletes have highlighted concerns over the long-term effects of repeated concussions.

A number of groups have recently lobbied Congress and state legislatures for the passage of concussion protection laws such as the Lystedt Law referenced in the article. Many experts are trying to set new standards for more advanced concussion care,  including a pre-season neuropsychological cognitive test to establish a baseline for comparison after a concussion. It is believed that comparing the post-injury test to the pre-injury baseline is the best way to determine appropriate return-to-play protocol.

A cost of preventing concussions

However, such testing can cost up to $10.00 per athlete and requires administrative scheduling and expense. In addition, once a sports organization adopts any safety standard, failure to fully implement can result in liability.  “If you purchase the program, you better be using it consistently and properly, because if you don’t, that opens up liability,” according to a source from the Washington Schools Risk Management Pool. “If you don’t own it at all, then you do not have that liability, and you are not responsible.”

The testing normally involves hiring a firm to bring in computer equipment with specialized software to a predetermined location to administer testing for all program athletes that can take up to 30 minutes per athlete.

The debate and discussion on the topic of sports concussions and return-to-play protocol will result in better educated medical professionals, coaches, trainers, and parents.

I recommend that you read the New York Times article in its entirety.