Is Cheerleading a Physical Contact Recreational Activity?

April 28, 2011

A Wisconsin Court Answers this Question

Katharine M. Nohr, Esq.
Nohr Sports Risk Management, LLC

You may have heard about the appellate decision that was issued on January 27, 2009, Noffke v. Bakke, 2009 WL 173491 (Wis.), in which the Supreme Court of Wisconsin addressed the question of whether cheerleading involves physical contact under a Wisconsin statute. The following summary provides the key facts and legal analysis so that you will know how this case fits into your own risk management planning.

Brittany Noffke, a high school varsity basketball cheerleader, fell backward, striking her head on a tile floor while practicing a cheerleading stunt without protective mats. Noffke was the “flyer” in the stunt, which required her to stand on the shoulders of other cheerleaders who formed the “base” for the stunt. Kevin Bakke, another cheerleader had the position of “post”, which assists the flyer in getting into position on the base, initially supporting most of the flyer’s weight so that her feet may be secured on the base’s shoulders, and also served as a spotter. Noffke was injured when Bakke let go of her without moving to the front to prevent her from falling. The cheerleading coach was busy supervising another group of cheerleaders and so was not there to assist in preventing Noffke’s fall.

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Trip Leader Meetings

April 28, 2011

Kathryn Hagen
Assistant Director for Sport Clubs
Campus Recreation Services
University of Maryland

Every Wednesday at 3pm, one member from each sport club with plans to travel that weekend gather in one of the conference rooms at the Recreation Center for a Trip Leader Meeting — a mandatory meeting for all clubs traveling. Sport Clubs members attending these Travel Meetings are known as “Trip Leaders”.

On “Travel Wednesdays” (so named because Wednesdays for the University of Maryland Sport Club staff are dedicated solely to traveling clubs), student trip leaders come together for a short meeting to focus on Campus Recreation Services travel policies and guidelines, as well as go over each club’s travel itinerary.

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The Need for a ‘Framework’ to Manage Sport Clubs

April 28, 2011

Ian McGregor, Ph.D.
McGregor & Associates

Across North America, Sport Clubs continue to be a major ‘sweaty palm’ issue for most Campus Recreation departments. Student-run Sport Clubs can provide an excellent learning environment for student leaders. However, from the administrator’s perspective, too many Clubs are just ‘doing their own thing’ with few controls in place to minimize problems. Hence it is all about finding that balance between freedom and control.

Many Sport Clubs operate with a fair degree of autonomy. However, the bottom line (from the Court’s perspective) is that Sport Clubs will likely be deemed to be ‘part of the University’, since they compete regionally and nationally as a ‘University’ team. Therefore the University will likely be held responsible for Sport Club activities (as these relate to practice and competition as well as travel, fund raising, social activities, etc.). Hence it is important that Campus Recreation departments effectively manage Sport Clubs to ensure that (a) the risk of participant injury is minimized and (b) a costly lawsuit is avoided.

The solution is to implement a ‘framework’ for managing Sport Clubs which provides flexibility on how to implement various Sport Clubs policies and procedures, yet incorporates some ‘bottom-line’ or ‘non-negotiable’ requirements which need to be followed by Sport Clubs.

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Toxic Artificial Turf — fact or fiction?

April 12, 2011

Jim Fitzsimmons
Associate Director
Campus Recreation and Wellness
University of Nevada, Reno

In the last decade the number of new generation synthetic turf installations has increased dramatically. Most professionals in our industry have heard all the benefits of investing in this product. It requires no mowing, no watering, no fertilizers or herbicides. There is no need to reseed or rest the field. It allows for increased field use which can equate to more revenue generation and increased programming. Cost of initial installation is somewhat high but the lifespan of the field is between 10 and 15 years.

In a 2005 analysis for the City of San Francisco Recreation and Parks, Turf Manager Lemar Morrison states “the latest generation of synthetic turf is safer to play on than natural turf. It is flat, even, soft and it does not have gopher holes, bumps, or muddy patches. New synthetic turf does not have the disadvantages of older “Astro-Turf,” which was abrasive and prone to causing injuries to toes, ankles and knees.” In arid states where the cost and availability of water is a major concern artificial turf is a sensible option.

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This is a Test…of your emergency response system

April 12, 2011

Mary Chappell, Director
Jason Krone, Associate Director, Programs, Sport Club Director
Jill Urkoski; Associate Director, Fitness and Staff Development
University of Kansas Recreation Services

The fast pace world in which we live in most definitely leaves us vulnerable to all types of risk. For those who work on today’s college campuses, it is a 24/7 duty cycle that transitions from Fall to Winter, Spring to Summer, Semesters to Quarters, and Event to Event.

When a campus incident rocks your world and that of your staff and participants, have you asked yourself “Are you ready to respond?”. Can you truthfully say that you have a plan in place for everything from evacuations, to sheltering in place? Can you say that your staff is ready to respond should they be called on to do so? If not, you are strongly recommended to start the planning process as soon as you finish reading this response guideline. The time is now. Call a staff meeting, and begin the process to develop an Emergency Response Plan that works for your Campus Recreation core mission: a plan that becomes embedded in the framework of your department, unit, reporting structure and campus environment. Quoting Frank De Salvo, Associate Vice Provost at the University of Kansas: “Emergency response preparation is not only valuable in the case of unforeseen circumstances. Such processes also contribute to team building, role clarification and accountability among staff members at all levels of the organization. It is clearly a prudent and profitable investment of time and energy.”

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CAMPUS RECREATION AND EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS

April 12, 2011

Christopher Tapfer
Emergency Management Coordinator
Washington State University

Since the tragedy at Virginia Tech last year, a key topic of discussion on college campuses has been emergency communications. Some of the dozens of reports that were developed about the Virginia Tech incident criticized the University for failing to communicate the danger of the situation to its campus community until it was too late. This is a matter of debate, and won’t be discussed here, but the issue did focus attention on the need for a college to have an adequate supply of tools that can be used to inform, warn and notify a campus of emergency situations quickly and efficiently.

During the discussions about the incident at Virginia Tech, the topic of the Clery Act was brought up many times. The key issue related to the Clery Act was the requirements for “timely warnings to the campus community about crimes that pose an ongoing threat to students and employees” and whether or not Virginia Tech failed in their duty to comply with the Act. Again, this is a matter for others to decide, but it is important that you have an awareness of what the Clery Act is and isn’t, and how it can impact a college campus.

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