Term Paper: Legal Aspects and Considerations "Coaches

Pages: 9 (2766 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Sports  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Before permitting athletes to use any practice area, the coach should carefully inspect the region to ensure it no hazards exist. Things like holes on playing fields or broken glass frequently lead to serious injury.

1. Inadequate supervision. Supervision decisions involve both a qualitative and quantitative judgments. Coaches must not only be knowledgeable regarding specific activities they supervise, they must also improvise supervision throughout the activities' extent. Two types of supervision exist: General and specific. "General supervision means the coach must be within the area, overseeing the whole activity. Specific supervision means the coach must be a specific location of the activity, such as the high bar in gymnastics" (Sabock & Sabock, 2008, pp. 283-284). Athletes should not be played or practice without proper supervision - under any circumstances.

1. Inadequate control measures. The coach should not allow one athlete's actions or those of a group create a hazardous situation for other individuals. "Horseplay not only impedes learning - it often leads to injury" (Sabock & Sabock, 2008, p. 284). Control measures coincide with supervision.

1. Poor judgment. As the coach's judgment can encompass an extensive variety of experiences, situations may arise in which the coach fails to utilize common sense. As a result, a lapse in prudent judgment can contribute to a student suffering harm: Examples include, but may not be limited to the following:

1. Asking the student to assume an unreasonable risk; for instance, activities designed primarily to build "courage."

1. Failure to apply proper first aid, or exceeding the limits of first aid.

1. Punishing a youngster with excessive running or other physically demanding exercises or drills. (Ibid.)

1. Failure to warn. Coaches may neglect to warn athletes of the potential for injury, particularly in contact sports, or fear the warning could negatively affect the players' performance. Coaches should inform parents and players, albeit, about the potential risks involved. They should also provide written material that identifies and explains ways the athlete can best avoid injuries (Sabock & Sabock, 2008).

The injury involving Jessica Schnarrs, a senior basketball player for Girard High School in Girard, Ohio, depicts an incident when a coach failed to appropriately match activities to the athlete's size and skill,. In the article, "Mismatch, sovereign immunity, and negligence," Schaefer (2006) recounts the incident in January 2003 when Andy Saxon, coach, "had male graduates with sound basketball skills practice with the girls. Saxon believed that using males with accomplished basketball skills would better prepare the girls to compete against stronger opponents" (Schaefer, ¶ 1). Saxon matched Chris Simmons, 6 feet, 5 inches tall, who weighed 260 pounds with Jessica, perhaps half the size of Simmons.

For this practice, the coaches had the players work on rebounding and passing down the court. Following Jessica's first rebound, Assistant Coach Cochran instructed Simmons to do more than just hold his arms high; he was to prevent Jessica from shooting or passing by whacking the ball across the court. On Jessica's next rebound, Simmons moved in front of her as she attempted a baseball pass. Simmons swatted at the ball with such force that Jessica's arm snapped back, resulting in a broken humerus even though Simmons struck only the ball. (Schaefer, 2006, ¶ 2).

In March 2005, Jessica and her family won the suit they filed in June 2003; seeking monetary compensation; claiming the coaches to be negligent. Ultimately, however, the Court of Appeals ruled that "Coach Saxon had significant discretion with the management of the girls' varsity basketball team, thus giving the coaches and school district immunity from prosecution" (Schaefer, 2006, Court of Appeals of Ohio Section, ¶ 3). Although sovereign immunity protected the coaches and school district in Jessica's case, high school and college coaches should not perceive this immunity as a shield to protect them and their school districts from all prosecution attempts. Some coaches will not be able to successfully use sovereign immunity as a defense. Proximate Cause and Acts of God constitute two successful defenses for high school and college coaches against negligence. In any case that involves negligence; the element of proximate cause must be proven. "It is not sufficient to merely allege that a coach was negligent in his or her duties. One must prove additionally that this negligence was the cause of the damage that occurred to the student" (Sabock & Sabock, 2008, p. 284). An Act of God does not depict an accident but depicts a force of nature, including, but not limited to lightning, striking a student. No matter the cause, in case of accidents, high school and college coaches should adhere to the following practices; not only for the best interest of the injured student, but also to help avoid having to later confront legal considerations.

Administer first aid only - do not practice medicine.

Get professional but Medical assistance as soon as possible.

Keep an accurate record of the exact circumstances surrounding the accident. (Sabock & Sabock, 2008, p. 286)

Practices like the above prove particularly useful in the event a lawsuit should occur. Purposefully practicing and following safely guidelines also serve in the best interest of high school and college coaches. In the article, "The voluntary use of physical education safety guidelines in schools: Safety guidelines can reduce injuries and the risk of legal action. So why are they often unused?" Rothe, (2009) asserts that a school's safety guidelines play a critical part in any legal claim against a coach or other staff member. "Besides helping to reduce classroom injuries, safety guidelines-if properly used-can reduce the risk of legal action against school district personnel and provide community stakeholders" (Rothe, Dealing with the issue Section, ¶ 2). Safety guidelines proffer coaches detailed procedures regarding ways to reduce the incidence of activity-related injury as well as safety standards regarding the athlete's use of sports' equipment and facilities.

Although high school and college coaches do not need to be experts in all aspects of legal liability in their coaching roles as they strive to reduce the incidence of activity-related injury to students, they need to be experts in implementing best practices and safety within their chosen sport(s). As they encourage youth to win not only in sports but also in life, potential high school or college coaches also needs to know that as they do their best - they have support from those they works with/for. In addition, they need to practice the adage Sabock and Sabock (2008) assert. As potential high school and college coaches practice implementing an "ounce of care" in their coaching efforts, the investment can help them avoid a "pound" of legal of problems.


Engelhorn, R. (2011). Legal and Ethical Responsibilities of a Coach Iowa State University. Retrieved March 24, 2011 from http://www.iahsaa.org/RichEngelhorn.html

Fitzgerald, T.B. (2005). The "inherent Risk" Doctrine, Amateur Coaching Negligence and the Goal of Loss Avoidance. Northwestern University Law Review, 99(2), 889+. Retrieved March 24, 2011, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5036474220

Football Coaches Push N.J. School Prayer Case at U.S. Supreme Court. (2008, December). Church & State, 61, 16+. Retrieved March 24, 2011, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5036476157

Pedersen, B.J. (2006). Coach quits over legal dispute: Sahuarita's Baker facing charges involving player. AZ Daily Star. Landmark Media Enterprises, LLC. Retrieved March 23, 2011 from HighBeam Research: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-149015601.html

Rothe, J.P. (2009). The voluntary use of physical education safety guidelines in schools: Safety guidelines can reduce injuries and the risk of legal action. So why are they often unused?.JOPERD - The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. Retrieved March 23, 2011 from HighBeam Research: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-196242865.html

Schaefer,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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