February 05, 2013
One strike and you’re out!
Director of Athletics
University of New Brunswick
Saint John Campus (UNBSJ)
Athletics Directors can count on the fact that every day presents different and unique challenges in the area of Risk Management. And so it was on this particular day. Nothing out of the ordinary. The only thing pressing was the time frame to get all the games played without delay as visiting teams were travelling 4-5 hrs and not staying overnight.
The varsity soccer teams were scheduled to play at 2:00 PM (women) and 4:00 PM (men) with the football club set for a 6:00 PM start. It was sunny and quite warm for a fall day. The women’s game was therefore very pleasant and the conditions were perfect. Just the kind of scenario we all hoped for when the day began. Even the opposing team was happy with the venue, the changing rooms, the field and the officials.
The women’s game ended on time and the men’s game started at 4:00 PM as scheduled. The temperature was still warm enough that people hadn’t really notice that the clear blue sky was now cloud-covered. Still, all in all, it was nice. As the game moved into the second half, dark, ominous clouds had gathered up a storehouse full of rain waiting to be unleashed just as the weather forecast had predicted. We were hoping that the men’s game would finish before the downpour.
None of us can control the weather, even if we sometimes think we can do so by “wishing” the sun to be present for the entirety of the event. The soccer game would have continued during the rain, as it was being played on an artificial turf field. However, a much bigger issue emerged, one that we weren’t completely ready for. It was supposed to rain but that was going to be the extent of it.
August 05, 2011
Tom Griffiths, Ed.D.
Director of Aquatics and Safety Officer
Department of Athletics
Penn State University
Closing Indoor Pools during Lightning Storms is THE Great Urban Myth in Aquatics. It rates right up there with Blacks can’t Swim, Snapple supports the KKK, McDonalds put worms in Big Macs, Coca-Cola rots your bones and the Kentucky Fried Rat.
Why then do so may water safety professionals and organizations prescribe to this myth?
According to Heath and Heath in their popular and informative book, ‘Making it Stick’, Urban Myths stick like this one, because they have five important elements: simple, unexpected, concrete, credible and emotional. When it comes to the indoor lightning myth, credibility and emotion based on fear are two important and predominant traits making this particular myth stick.
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.
April 11, 2011
The case in support of a lightning policy
Kevin Johnston, M.S.
Graduate Faculty, University of Idaho
Senior Consultant, Professional Aquatic Consultants International
Why is there even a debate? The most conservative perspective is to close both outdoor and indoor pools due to the potential risk. The most liberal perspective: the pool is a safe place based on its design and there hasn’t been a documented ‘in the water’ injury or death in an indoor pool as a result of lightning. Our society has become what Beck calls a ‘Risk Society’. Risk is out there lurking in the shadows but is obscure and abstract: global warming, terrorist attacks and nuclear disasters waiting to happen. Lightning and the indoor pool can be seen in these same terms.
April 07, 2011
Tim Stoecklein, Assistant Director
Kansas State University
It has been said that the weather is the most popular topic of conversations across the world, and if you think about it, that is probably a fairly accurate statement. To play or not to play is often the question we face when it comes to our recreational programs. Typically the decisions focus on the rain, the snow, the wind, or the lightning. Sometimes it can be a combination of several as once I had to cancel a softball game due to snow AND lightning! Of all the elements served up by the environment, lightning is the second most deadly, behind floods.