OK folks, I can’t make this crap up. Read on and let me know what you think.
August 8, 2009 Saturday
SECTION: SPORTS; Pg. B01
HEADLINE: A chill rushes over youth sports — New Springville LL lawsuit settlement could discourage current and potential volunteers
BYLINE: JACK MINOGUE, STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE
The headline in Tuesday’s Advance read “Little League out 125Gs for bad slide.”
The story said that Meiers Corners resident Jean Gonzalez had agreed to settle a lawsuit in which she contended her son, Martin, then 12, tore his meniscus and ligaments in his right knee in a New Springville Little League game because he wasn’t taught how to slide properly.
As expected, phone calls and e-mails followed, including one from Brooklyn and another from New Jersey.
“This is nuts” the New Jersey e-mailer began before recounting how he still has a scar on his face from a Little League game. His father’s response: “Put a Band-aid on it and get back in there.”
The New Springville LL settlement has an ominous tone. It has to give anyone connected with youth sports – any sports program, really – cause for concern.
“Am I putting my house, my paycheck, my 401K in jeopardy by serving my community’s youth?”
“Are those hold-harmless waivers which parents sign worthless?”
Yes, most leagues have liability insurance, but if a settlement is for more than the liability covered by the insurance policy, league personnel are responsible for the excess. In this case, Leigh Bernstein, the boy’s manager; an unidentified first-base coach, John Doe, were named in the suit, and even League president Luis Mojica could be held liable.
“The league had been out of the loop – we hadn’t heard anything – for a year,” Mojica said yesterday.
“We had no idea what was going on. We were shocked when we saw the story in the Advance.”
So was LL District Commissioner Bill Panzella.
“Unless there’s something I don’t know about, I don’t see Little League losing this case if it had gone to trial,” Panzella said, then added: “This settlement opens a Pandora’s Box.”
A Pandora’s Box in Little League where regardless of a player’s ability, Little League national rules require each player to play two innings and get at least one at-bat in every game.
A friend of mine recounted an incident from a few years ago involving a girls’ softball player who wasn’t really good enough yet to be on the field.
“An infield pop fly. The girl got under it, but missed the ball and it hit her in the head. Fortunately, she wasn’t hurt.”
But what if she suffered a concussion and the family didn’t feel that unfortunate injuries are sometimes a part of playing sports? Could he have been sued?
A Pandora’s Box in all kids’ sports.
Football is the most obvious example.
A player suffers a knee injury while blocking or making a tackle or carrying the ball.
Are the league, league officials and the team’s coaches liable because the family contends the youngster didn’t have enough reps, or wasn’t taught proper techniques?
Or, how about girls’ basketball where knee injuries are common? A youngster suffers a knee injury when fouled while driving to the basket.
Is the coach liable because the family contends she didn’t have enough practice? Or, maybe even the game officials because the family contends they didn’t call the game close enough?
“I’m afraid,” Panzella said, “this settlement is going to cause some people to have second thoughts about getting involved – or staying involved.”
And, with youth league administrators and coaches already in short supply, that is very bad news.
Chris Downs, Media Relations Manager for Little League International, said yesterday his organization was unable to comment because of a confidentiality clause in the settlement.
As a coach and a Father it is my resposibilty to ensure that my child and my players are put in the safest and most desirable position. When the whole weight falls on the coach to teach the rules and the basics of the games without any help at all from the parents it is most defintly a scary proposition. Before any parent drops his or her children down at the field to a coach…you would have at least hoped that time was spent talking about some of the basic rules and time was spent in the backyard or field down the block setting up a foundation…even if very basic.
I had one player who put his glove on the wrong hand and whenever a throw would come his way he would turn his back to the ball and get struck. he would then go running to his Dad crying that that “other” kid threw the ball at him and it hurt. The Father just told him to pay closer attention!. He could pay attention till the cows came home..without any basic instruction from the parents..this boy had little chance to succeed off the bat. I can teach him how to catch and throw…yet am I legally resposible if this boy gets hurt while he learns? Craziness. I better keep a lawyer on reatiner!
OK well here is my question….who’s job is it to teach kids to slide??? I took my daughter for a provate sliding lesson but at age 12 most of the girls on her travel team still do not know how to slide. One girl ( who is a top athlete) just broke her leg trying to slide. No lawsuits going on but I fear many more injuries.
my take on it – just because you “teach” a kid something, does not necessarily mean the kid will actually DO it (correctly). I can hear it now “sorry Johnny, we don’t feel your slide technique is 100% yet so you’ll have to sit this one out”. And even if they do know how to do something the correct way, again, there are alot of variables and each situation is different, that’s why “accidents” still happen!! And from what I’ve heard (I may be wrong here), most waivers wouldn’t hold up in court anyway (definitely not if the involved party/coach was found to be acting in a “non prudent” manner). Unfortunately, if some idiot is out to cause trouble, they have a good chance at “winning” in THAT game.
Both great points. It’s certainly a coach’s job to instruct a child and I can’t imagine that someone would have to get private lessons for something as basic as sliding but better to be safe than sorry especially when there are too many coaches who don’t give a crap about anything but their own kids.
as for accidents, yep, they do still happen but is anyone else absolutely floored that an idiot parent would sue over something as stupid as this? IF sliding was such a big deal for these morons, then why didn’t they take their kid in the backyard and show them how to do it?
I think the coach should be able to sue the parents for being morons but instead, the other grniuses at Little League completely validate this bullcrap and settle with these losers for $125,000?
what the hell is going on? do we need coaches for our kids or attorneys?
unfortunately, I’m not that surprised that an idiot parent would sue over something so stupid. It’s another case of “some people shouldn’t be allowed to have kids”!!! I’m more surprised that they settled…
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