Facilities & Equipment

Required vs. Highly Recommended

November 21, 2011

Use of Safety Googles in Racket Sports

Roger Heimerman
Operations/Facility Manager
Campus Recreation
University of Massachusetts – Amherst

The establishment and review of protocol and verbiage is an integral part of the recreational sports professional’s responsibilities. Administration must ensure their facility and program policies are enforceable, reflect an emphasis on participant safety, protect the facility surfaces and equipment, and minimize legal liability.

Commonly used verbiage includes the following: not permitted, not allowed, prohibited, not responsible for, expected to, may not, required, and highly recommended. It is suggested to use these terms to best reflect the intent of the policy, promote a safe and customer friendly atmosphere and to transfer legal responsibility when applicable.

In developing policy, ‘Required’ vs. ‘Highly Recommended’ policies must be determined with care and based on the following considerations:

  •   # of staff
  •   Location of staff
  •   Staff supervision patterns
  •   Location of activity area
  •   Size of activity area
  •   Follow-through ability of staff in enforcement of selected policy
  •   Facilities vs. Programs
  •   Proper signage and/or written materials

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The Ball is in Your Court

October 12, 2011

Warning: Cell Phone Danger Ahead!

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

Cell phones have presented risk management issues for facilities ever since cameras became a typical feature. The concern has been that cell phones will be used to take photographs of naked people in locker rooms—a violation of privacy. With the advent of Facebook and texting, this is a particular concern as pictures can be posted or texted in an instant. It’s possible that the person taking and distributing the picture might not be caught, but the facility in which the picture was taken surely could find itself on the wrong end of a lawsuit. Because of these concerns, almost any locker room of a facility with a risk management policy has signs posted, prohibiting cell phone use or cell phone visibility. These warning signs are not very effective if they are not being enforced. I-Phones and 4G’s are as addictive as crack, and so the mere posting of a few signs on locker room walls will surely not do much to pry them out of their owners’ hands. Does that mean that there should be cell phone monitors in every locker room? That is probably going too far. However, when people complain about continued cell phone use, action should be taken. Perhaps an employee or volunteer can regularly walk through the locker room (of his or her own gender) and check for violations. If facility users know that the facility enforces the rule, locker room cell phone use might diminish.
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How to Avoid Making a Racket over Racquets

July 14, 2011

Using Equipment Only for their Intended Use

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

I’ll bet that on occasion employees of your organization have had to warn a child or adult not to use sports equipment for things other than their intended use. Perhaps you’ve seen someone using a baseball bat to dislodge a basketball from a net; a weight bench to stand on in order to reach something; small weights to prop a door open; or a tennis racquet to kill a bug. Most of the time, using equipment for something other than what it was designed for does not cause any harm. However, a recent court case provides a good reason that sports and recreation equipment should only be used for what they were designed for.

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Minimizing MRSA: A Three-Pronged Approach

July 13, 2011

Sarah E. Hardin, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Facilities
Campus Recreation
DePaul University

Methicillen-resistant staphylococcus aureus or the MRSA Virus, as it is more commonly known, was first addressed by John Lentz in the April 2007 issue of this publication. At that time, there were many recreational sports professionals who were unaware of the viciousness of this disease. Now, two years later, the term ‘MRSA’ strikes fear into the hearts of recreation facility managers across the country. Although we may not have had first-hand experience in dealing with the infection, we have heard enough stories to make us want to avoid it at all costs. We all wonder if we are doing enough to minimize the risks of an outbreak in our facilities.

While many institutions have already adopted a number of practices to prevent an outbreak, others may still be at the planning stages. This article is intended to assist those at both ends of this spectrum. The first section of the article provides basic information about the virus itself, as well as explaining why those in the recreational sports field should be concerned about its prevention. The second section addresses the actual practices used by recreational sport administrators to avoid or prevent the spread of the MRSA infection.

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One Strike and You’re Out: Lightning on the Playing Field

July 13, 2011

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

On September 1, 2009, the Associated Press headline, “Lightning Strike Causes Amputation”, referred to Danish soccer player Jonathan Richter’s unfortunate injury arising out of a brief thunder storm on July 20th while he was playing a reserve game. The 24 year old athlete had to undergo an induced coma for 10 days and then suffered the amputation of his lower left leg. This recent incident dramatically illustrates the danger that lightning strikes pose to athletes during practices and competitions held outdoors. The National Weather Service estimates that in the United States, the earth is struck by lightning approximately 25 million times per year. Considering this frequency, it is no wonder that in 2008, there were 28 deaths that resulted from lightning strikes.

The most recent reported appellate court decision regarding a lightning strike was probably that of Sall v. T’s, Inc., 136 P.3d 471 (Kan. 2006), which involved a golfer, through his parents, filing a lawsuit against a golf course for injuries sustained as a result of being struck by lightning on a golf course. The Kansas Supreme Court held that a golf course owed a duty of care to protect golfers from harm caused by lightning strikes on a golf course. The Court determined that there was a material issue of fact as to whether the golf course negligently performed the duty that it assumed to monitor the weather conditions and warn the golfers to come in off the golf course and so summary judgment was not appropriate. The Court noted that the golf course’s procedure was to do the following: 1) monitor weather through broadcasts on television, radio and Internet reports; 2) personnel went outside to visually inspect the weather; 3) golfers were warned by use of an air horn to come off the golf course during poor weather conditions; and 4) golfers were informed through signage what they should do in case of inclement weather.

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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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