Sport Clubs

Current Legal Practices in Collegiate Club Sport Programs

May 12, 2011

Steve Kampf
Recreational Sports
Bowling Green State University

Scott Haines
Recreational Services
The College at Brockport, SUNY

Robert C. Schneider
The Department of Physical Education and Sport
The College at Brockport, SUNY

William F. Stier Jr.
The Department of Physical Education and Sport
The College at Brockport, SUNY

Brady Gaskins
Office of Residential Life
Bowling Green State University
Legal liability practices within a college recreation program have long been an apprehension for the personnel who oversee programming. In particular, club sport activities have been a concern as to what the true legal liability benchmarks were in the field of college recreational sports. A review of current literature revealed a lack of benchmarking information relating to legal liability practices in collegiate club sport programs. Specifically, the information gained from this study provides programmatic direction in reviewing and proposing changes to policies and procedures relating to club sport safety.

A comprehensive research study was recently completed on the subject of legal liability that relates to club sports. Areas that were studied included the use of waivers, travel, coaching, first aid/CPR, and supervision. The following information serves as a reference point for those who oversee college club sport programs and could help in developing or reviewing policies and procedures.

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Six Steps to Sport Clubs Risk Assessment

May 12, 2011

Eric Ascher, Sport Clubs Coordinator
Diane James, Risk Management & Aquatics Coordinator
Steven Elliott, Risk Management Aide
Department of Recreational Sports
University of Florida

Risk Management is an important component of any Sport Clubs program. Because of this fact, UF RecSports chose to begin a department-wide risk assessment project with Sport Clubs. This project began in July with information from the web and other NIRSA members. Very few models were available. In August, a Risk Management Aide joined the team and the process of creating the Risk Assessment began.

The Risk Management team developed a rough draft utilizing what information had been found and what elements should be documented. A Risk Assessment Form and a PowerPoint presentation geared specifically to the Sport Clubs was developed. Drafts were sent to the Director, Associate Director, and Sport Clubs Coordinator for feedback. Revisions were made and presentations to the clubs were scheduled.

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Sport Club Member Training

May 12, 2011

Bob Gough
Aquatics & Sport Club Coordinator
Campus Recreation
University of North Carolina Wilmington

Sport Club professionals spend hours developing and writing policy manuals with the hope that club members read and understand each concept. We know through experience that this is seldom the case. What can we do to help reinforce the messages our club officers need to know? Member training can be part of the solution to this problem.
The Sport Club program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) has experienced growth each of the last seven years. The Sport Club Council (SCC) meeting was a great opportunity to include training topics – when the total number of clubs were smaller. When we reached the 20 Sport Clubs mark, the Sport Club Council meetings were taking 2 hours, and we realized that the Sport Club Council meeting was no longer the best place to train our club officers.

We began researching training programs from other sport club programs, new member orientation programs for fraternity and sorority programs, and the employee training program from the UNCW Discover Outdoor program. The process lead to the development of a weekly one-hour sport club member training program we named the ‘Sport Club Management Series’.

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Getting Ahead of Head Injuries in Sports and Recreation

May 12, 2011

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

On March 18, 2009, headlines all over the world announced that actress Natasha Richardson died from a head injury she sustained from a fall on a Quebec ski slope. An autopsy revealed that she sustained an epidural hematoma, causing bleeding between the skull and the brain’s covering. Such bleeding from a skull fracture may quickly produce a blood clot which puts pressure on the brain, forcing the brain downward. This impacts the brain stem that controls vital functions, including breathing. Logically, if all of that is happening it should be obvious and immediate medical attention would be sought. That is not the case. It is common for people that suffer head injuries to feel fine initially as it takes some time before symptoms emerge. Dr. Keith Siller of New York University Langone Medical Center, when interviewed in relation to this tragedy explained that, “This is a very treatable condition if you’re aware of what the problem is and the patient is quickly transferred to a hospital.”

The news coverage about Natasha Richardson, generally reported that she was a beginning skier who declined to wear a helmet for her ski lesson. She felt fine after her fall and turned an ambulance away at approximately 1:00pm. She later developed a headache and medics returned at approximately 3:00pm. As her condition deteriorated, she was driven from a local hospital to a Montreal hospital, not arriving until approximately 7:00pm. There were no medivac helicopters or airplanes available.

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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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