Spectator Injuries Are Still a Concern Despite Limited Sports Fans

// March 4, 2021
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Though many sports leagues throughout the U.S. have had to adapt to various health concerns and ensure their compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, the warmer months mark the beginning of the season for many teams.

Even with added precautions recommended by the CDC, sports participation naturally puts participants at risk of physical injury due to the physical activity alone. Most participants and their guardians understand this from the start, and organizations should have the necessary risk-management procedures in place.

But what about spectator injury? According to HealthDay, though spectator injuries are uncommon, they tend to be life-threatening and life-changing when they do occur. During this time, organizations may overlook this risk (or completely ignore it) as their seasons kick off due to the expectation that fewer fans will be in the crowd. Additionally, some states may be more lenient with their guidelines for sports spectatorship than others.

For every athlete, there are multiple parents, siblings, friends and fans who could potentially gather on the field to cheer them on while they’re participating in sports such as baseball, softball, lacrosse, track and field, flag football and tennis. With many of these leagues playing outside, games could still draw a decent number of fans who feel they have more control of social distancing while outdoors — this means the risk of spectator injury is still very real.

These types of hazards are not a new problem, either. Just a year ago, NBC News reported on the hundreds of injuries — and even a death — occurring from foul balls at Major League Baseball ballparks. Where does the liability fall? If a spectator attends a game, do they assume the risk of potential injury by default? According to LawInSport.com, the line is blurred because spectators knowingly put themselves in potential danger.

While the MLB is an extreme example of spectator injury, the danger is present, and the likelihood only increases with the increase in sports participation. To drive home the potential severity of these risks, ESPN reported that an amateur baseball team in New Jersey incurred over $150,000 in claims expenses due to a spectator injury from an overthrown baseball. Implementing the appropriate risk-management practices, such as facility maintenance/upkeep, proper training and employee/volunteer screenings, can help alleviate these exposures to ensure long-term success for organizations.

While having good risk-management practices in place, such as up-to-date equipment and waivers of liability, is recommended for any sports organization, having coverage in place can alleviate significant financial losses for which the organization may become liable. USLI offers a variety of insurance and value-added solutions for both youth and adult sports organizations. Our comprehensive package policy offers:

  • General liability
  • Property
  • Optional accident and health for youth-only organizations
  • Participant legal liability coverage
  • Abuse and molestation limits up to $1 million for youth-only organizations
  • Assault or battery coverage for youth-only organizations at no additional charge
  • Certain special events
  • Inland marine
  • Crime
  • Directors and officers
  • Employment practices

True to our service promises, USLI is able to offer a quote for most sports organizations over the phone, with as little information as the number of participants in a league or on a team. In addition, USLI’s Business Resource Center provides value-added resources that greatly benefit youth organizations, such as discounted background checks, concussion training, child-abuse policies and much more.

Please contact your Nonprofit Package underwriter today for more information about our Sports Advantage product.

As always, thank you for your support and business.

Contact Brian Smith
Second Vice President, Southeast Team Leader | 888-523-5545, ext. 2727

Kristin Ryan HeadshotWritten by Kristin Ryan
March 4, 2021