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Sports League Injuries: What Parents and Athletes Need to Know

Personal Injury

While participation in sports leagues dropped significantly in 2020, youth and adult sports leagues in Ohio are now back in full swing. While this is good news for participants, it also means that participants (and their parents) need to be aware of the risk of sports-related injuries.

But, while awareness is important, there is only so much that athletes and parents can do to protect themselves and their children. Sports leagues, teams, medical personnel and trainers all have responsibilities to protect athletes’ safety—and when they fail to do so, they can (and should) be held accountable.

Many of the Most Popular Sports Present the Greatest Injury Risks

It is an unfortunate reality that some of the most popular sports are also those that present the greatest risks for participants. While injury risks shouldn’t necessarily prevent participation, it is important that athletes and their parents are able to rely on leagues and other entities to provide safe facilities and environments. Consider these statistics from the Aspen Institute and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):

  • Basketball – Basketball is the most popular league sport in America for youths between the ages of 6 and 12. It is also the sport with the second highest rate of child injuries requiring hospital emergency services.
  • Football – While youth participation in contact football has waned in recent years due to concussion-related concerns, football remains the sport with the highest rate of child injuries resulting in hospitalization.
  • Baseball and Softball – Millions of youth athletes play in baseball and softball leagues in Ohio and across the United States. Each year, more than 100,000 of these youth athletes suffer serious injuries on the field.
  • Soccer – Soccer is growing in popularity in the United States. With this rise in popularity, soccer-related injuries are on the rise as well. According to the CPSC, soccer is the fourth most dangerous sport for youth athletes after basketball, football and baseball.
  • Ice Hockey – While ice hockey is less popular in warmer climates, it is extremely popular in Ohio. Ice hockey’s participation rate is about a tenth of basketball’s participation rate, and youth ice hockey players suffer about a tenth of the injuries of youth basketball players.

Common Sports-Related Injuries Among Children and Adults

Falls, collisions between athletes, impacts from bats and balls, overheating, and various other risks can lead to injuries in all types of league sports. Some of the most common injuries youth and adult athletes suffer when participating in sports leagues include:

  • Bone fractures and dislocations
  • Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Eye, ear, nose and jaw injuries
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Ligament and tendon sprains and tears (including torn ACLs and MCLs)
  • Muscle strains and tears
  • Neck injuries
  • Second impact syndrome
  • Shin splints
  • Spinal cord injuries

Holding Leagues, Teams and Other Entities Accountable for Sports-Related Injuries

Sometimes, sports-related injuries are unavoidable. But, sometimes they are not. In some cases, injuries occur because sports leagues, teams and other entities fail to take necessary measures to protect athletes on the court, on the ice or on the field.

When sports leagues and teams fail to adequately protect athletes from injuries or injury-related complications (i.e., in the event of a concussion), they can often be held liable under Ohio law. For example:

  • Sports Leagues – Sports leagues can often be held liable for selecting unsafe venues for league practices and games. Leagues can also potentially be held liable for scheduling (and refusing to reschedule) games when temperatures or other conditions present unreasonable risks for athletes or for hiring unqualified umpires or referees.
  • Sports Teams – Sports teams can face liability for encouraging (or forcing) athletes to play through injuries without the rest or treatment they need. Teams can also face liability for having athletes practice during extreme heat or in other dangerous conditions.
  • Doctors and Trainers – League and team doctors and trainers can be held liable for clearing athletes who shouldn’t be cleared. This is true whether a doctor misdiagnoses an athlete’s condition or a trainer knowingly sends a player back out with an injury that requires medical attention.

Speak with a Lawyer at Malek & Malek Law Firm

These are just a few examples of the types of claims athletes and parents may be able to pursue for sports league injuries. If you need to know more, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation. To speak with a lawyer at Malek & Malek Law Firm in confidence as soon as possible, call us at 888-444-7440 or tell us how we can help online now.