Lakewood Pop Warner Sued, Alleged Improper Coaching Leads to Paraplegia

Written by PC News on . Posted in Board Members, Coaches, Litigation, Medical, Training

Could bad coaching lead to a lawsuit against your league? If the result is player injury, it can and already has. Yet another suit has been filed against a local sports league and its directors contending that a coach’s negligent instruction caused injury to the player. (Full story here).

The Lakewood (CA) Pop Warner association, its officers and directors, and the players coach were named in a suit filed recently in California Superior Court. The suit alleges that the player’s coaches repeatedly saw him unsafely tackle opponents head-first in both practices and games but did not attempt to correct his technique. The suit also alleges this was taught and that the players were given “repeated and incorrect instruction that Hill and his teammates tackle opposing players by leading with the head, rather than placing the head on the outside of the opposing player, as directed in national Pop Warner rules and coaching materials.”

According the the player’s attorneys “[f]ilm footage of the game shows Hill consistently making tackles with his head down, according to the complaint. At the moment of injury, Hill’s body went limp after making contact with another player while attempting a tackle with his head down. Doctors at Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center later determined that Hill suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury, resulting in quadriplegia.”

This suit highlights how coaching education is a necessary part of any risk management plan. When we are delivering services directly to youth participants, it is vital that the person directing and instructing the players be properly trained and aware of the latest safety recommendations. The suit against the directors claims that no protocol existed to make sure the tackling rules and safety protocol were being enforced. Willful blindness will not protect an organization from suit.

One of the frequent objections we here in our presentations is a complete misconception that developing rules will render the organization more liable if they are not later enforced. This suit highlights the point we make: you are far more likely to be sued, and in a far worse position with a jury, if you ignore known risks and choose not to make policies. Enforcement and reporting is a part of every risk management plan, and we help you there too.

See how we can help your organization be proactive and develop player safety policies that are implementable and enforceable. Contact us at 512-487-RISK.

Free Consultations Available at NSCAA Convention

Written by PC News on . Posted in Board Members, Coaches, Governing Bodies, Training

Scott Placek of Placek Consulting has been attending the NSCAA convention for years.  First, as a club Director of Coaching, later as a college club, and today as a small youth association DOC, Scott enjoys learning from the best and brightest minds in coaching education, and of course visiting with coaching friends both old and new.  However, since launching his consulting practice, the NSCAA convention provides an opportunity for Placek Consulting to offer face to face assistance to club officers and directors tasked with addressing risk management in an environment that is growing increasingly dangerous and litigious.

During the NSCAA convention, Placek Consulting will provide free 30 minute risk management consultations on a space available basis.  Most sessions will be breakfast meetings or early evening sessions following the close of most classroom events.  If you’d like to reserve some time, contact us via our webform, or call 512-487-RISK.

Imposter Coach Collects Player Details

Written by PC News on . Posted in Board Members, Field Safety, Players, Volunteer Management

In the Uvalde (Texas) Independent School District, campus entry restrictions have been tightened after a 22 year old man was found impersonating a college softball coach. (Full story here).  The suspect was arrested after having posed as an assistant coach for the non-existent Laredo Community College softball program.  His cover story was that he had been hired to help start a softball program and was scouting for players.  Because he “looked the part” he was given access to players and obtained their contact information.    He later used this information to contact the players at all hours of the day.  He was charged with five counts of impersonating a public servant.  As a result of his conduct, additional restrictions have been placed on athletic recruiters seeking access to school campuses.

This same concern should apply to youth sports clubs in general, with respect to strangers entering your field complex for any reason.  Certainly, in the select soccer environment, scouts do come to some games.  Sports photographers often show up at public parks and offer their services.  Still other people may appear offering coaching or training services to youth players and their parents.  A good risk management program seeks to control access to youth participants even in public settings.  Field monitors should be alert to people who appear out of place or seek personal information about players. Centralizing recruiting contacts can provide a means to confirm the legitimacy of a contact.  To the extent the club can control access to the venue, strict entry/contact requirements should apply.

Placek Consulting can assist you in creating a field monitoring or vendor management plan.