The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

Groundbreaking set for Erie County’s new $50M indoor sports complex !

Panama City Beach Breaks Ground on $37 Million Sports Complex !

Panama City Beach Sports Complex groundbreaking
PHOTO: Panama City Beach Sports Complex groundbreaking. (photo courtesy of Panama City Beach)

Ball Diamond Specials from BEACON Ballfields ! (June)

June 12, 2018       |       BeaconAthletics.com        |       Ballfields.com
Check out our Monthly Specials for June!

THIS WEEK’S FIELD THOUGHTS

Drying agents are a must-have tool for dealing with rain situations but be sure to use them correctly in order to use the least amount and get the biggest bang for your buck. These products aren’t cheap and a rainy season can have you plowing through budget dollars in no time if your crew is not careful with when, where and how they are using the product. Here are a few things to keep in mind about when to use drying agent, where to use drying agent, and how to use drying agent…

Click to continue reading about tips for Drying Agent from Beacon’s Paul Zwaska: Drying Agent Etiquette

Visit Ballfields.com frequently for tips & articles andGroundskeeperU.com for online training.

Lute Scarifying Rake
SAVE up to $10

IN STOCK! Typically ships the next business day. Designed with a leveling blade on one side and small tooth/small gap finishing blade on the other… and the all-important, fatigue saver — the curved rake head. The lute end is basically a straight edge that can be used for grading and leveling. The fine toothed scarifier side works particularly well on fields that have a topdressing layer on their infield skin surface. 48″ wide or 30″ wide. (Discount applied automatically)

OPEN BOX ITEM OF THE WEEK

OPEN BOX Item — 3-Wheel Streamliner Field Chalker  — SAVE $74, this is the last one available!  Now is your chance. This easily maneuverable 3-wheel chalker is an outstanding value. Get the 35 lb capacity field liner and don’t look back. Slightly-used condition. NOW ONLY $295 (Reg. $369)

By Groundskeepers, For Groundskeepers.

The time and effort necessary to train new staff each year can become overwhelming, and that’s exactly why we developed Groundskeeper U. GU is the perfect online tool for teaching new staff, summer help, and volunteers. Through videos, photos, audio, and written material your staff will learn the right way with the tried and true practices taught by Paul Zwaska.

Enjoy this by-groundskeepers-for-groundskeepers resource and, when you find a lesson or technique you know others will benefit from, be sure to share it on social media and with your colleagues!

Visit Groundskeeper University

Find what you need, it’s all here.

If you there’s something your field needs, you’ll find it in our catalog. Request your copy of The Ultimate Ballfield Resource. Our catalog features a complete listing of products to keep you rolling with everything you need all season long. This is your go-to must-have resource.

Request a Catalog

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !


www.sadlersports.com/soda

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SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

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Officials share plans for safety, reopening of shooting sports park; special meeting !

ST. GEORGE, UT — At a special meeting of the Washington County Commission, commissioners and other representatives discussed their decision to approve the recommendation of a temporary partial closure of Southern Utah Shooting Sports Park, outlined safety concerns that initiated the closure and what is being done to reopen the park.

The meeting included members of the Washington County Commission, county and city officials, representatives of the Shooting Sports Park Special Service District and interested parties.

Washington County Administrator Dean Cox addressed a packed county commission chamber, reassuring many board members and enthusiasts that it is Washington County’s intention to reopen a safer Southern Utah Shooting and Sports Park. Due to an increase in police reports, among other things, the Commission felt it was necessary to initiate a partial closure of the park, giving the Board time to enlist the help of professional range management specialists, Cox said.

Practical shooting at the Southern Utah Shooting Sports Park, Hurricane, Utah, circa 2012 | Photo courtesy of Ken Nelson, president of the Southern Utah Pistol & Revolver Club, St. George News

Background

The Southern Utah Shooting Sports Park is located just past the Washington County Regional Park, or fairgrounds, in Hurricane, and is home to six recreational shooting venues; as listed on its Website they include the following: Purgatory Clays, Red Cliffs Rifle/Pistol Range, Cowboy Action (Dixie Desperados), Southern Utah Practical Shooting Range,  Archery (RedRock Bowmen) and Blackpowder (High Valley Mountain Men).

Washington County was alerted to problems with the shooting sports park when law enforcement voiced their concerns of reported errant bullet strikes and rounds found in residents’ yards, siding and mailboxes. Rounds and fragments were also discovered in various locations around the nearby subdivision and in the surrounding area, Hurricane City Police Lt. Jerod Brisk said.

Reports of bullets and casings reportedly found in different residential locations created safety issues and the increase in the number and escalation of these reports caused them great concern, including bullet strikes on state Route 9, Brisk said.

There were three reports of bullet strikes on SR-9; the last reported shot lodged a bullet near the framing of a truck window after shattering it, Brisk said.  At that point, the Hurricane City Police Department appealed to Washington County advising of the risk to public safety and recommending the Southern Utah Shooting and Sports Park be temporarily closed.

A Special Board of Directors Meeting was held  Nov. 20 at the Washington County Administration Building during which it was decided that immediate partial closure of the Shooting and Sports Park was necessary until the safety issues were resolved.  Previously scheduled events would be allowed under certain conditions:

  • Close supervision by certified field safety officer
  • Venues will forward a list of scheduled events through the end of December 2015, which will be forwarded to law enforcement.
  • . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
    Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !


    www.sadlersports.com/soda

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

    www.sportsplexoperators.com

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .PlanFinalGuideAd

    “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

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Ball Diamond Specials from BEACON Ballfields ! (June)

June 5, 2018       |       BeaconAthletics.com        |       Ballfields.com
Check out our Monthly Specials for June!

THIS WEEK’S FIELD THOUGHTS

To the average Jane or Joe, when you look at a ballfield and see tarps on a mound and home plate area, they assume groundskeepers put those in place to protect those areas from getting wet from rain and irrigation. Little do they know that mound and plate tarps are critical tools to assist in maintaining moisture to these two high-wear areas of the ballfield. Protection from rain is actually a secondary benefit of using area tarps.

Mound and plate areas frequently use a high clay content soil for extra binding power in these high wear areas. Depending on the brand and the level of play the clay is designed for, high quality mound clay soils will have clay content anywhere between 30% and 70%. The higher the content, the better the holding power. But it is not just about the clay content…

Click to continue reading about controlling moisture with area tarps from Beacon’s Paul Zwaska: Area Tarps… They’re Not Just for Rain Protection

Visit Ballfields.com frequently for tips & articles andGroundskeeperU.com for online training.

8oz FieldShield Standard Hem Area Tarps
SAVE up to $20

Typically ships within 3-5 business days. Protect your batters box and home plate area. Lighten up, but stay tough.These pitching mound covers and home plate tarps handle easy, but wear hard. Made in the USA and high quality. Includes spurred, rolled rim grommets every 3 to 4 ft. (Discount applied automatically, valid only for 8oz tarps)

OPEN BOX ITEM OF THE WEEK

OPEN BOX Item — 4-Wheel Streamliner Field Chalker  — SAVE $74, this is the only one available!  Great value on this 4-wheel workhorse. Our legendary field chalker is only slightly used, so this is your chance to get the industry-standard chalker. You won’t find a better way to line your fields.Slightly-used condition. NOW ONLY $325 (Reg. $399)

By Groundskeepers, For Groundskeepers.

The time and effort necessary to train new staff each year can become overwhelming, and that’s exactly why we developed Groundskeeper U. GU is the perfect online tool for teaching new staff, summer help, and volunteers. Through videos, photos, audio, and written material your staff will learn the right way with the tried and true practices taught by Paul Zwaska.

Enjoy this by-groundskeepers-for-groundskeepers resource and, when you find a lesson or technique you know others will benefit from, be sure to share it on social media and with your colleagues!

Visit Groundskeeper University

Find what you need, it’s all here.

If you there’s something your field needs, you’ll find it in our catalog. Request your copy of The Ultimate Ballfield Resource. Our catalog features a complete listing of products to keep you rolling with everything you need all season long. This is your go-to must-have resource.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !


www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .PlanFinalGuideAd

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

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Food Truck Frenzy at O’Fallon’s Sports Park features 15 food trucks, live country music !

Food Truck Window

Get a great summer weekend rolling on Friday, June 1, with live music and a variety of food trucks parked and ready to serve from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at O’Fallon’s Food Truck Frenzy. Featuring a free concert of country music hits by Wildfire, the event will be held in Sports Park, located at 3589 Highway K, O’Fallon, Missouri 63368. Watch for signs to Sports Park Drive and free parking for the event.

Fifteen food trucks and concessionaires will offer favorite food and beverages for purchase, including:

  • Cardinal Nation Food Truck
  • Doughboy’s Wood Fired Pizza
  • Kona Ice
  • Luigi and Raffaele Boccardi’s
  • Orange Leaf
  • Rendezvous Café & Wine Bar
  • Sarah’s Cake Stop
  • Savor the Southwest
  • StLouisianaQ
  • Sybergs on Wheels
  • Taste Budz Express
  • Treats Unleashed
  • Thai Jasmine
  • The Crooked Boot
  • Wayno’s Mobile International Cuisine

Food truck service is subject to change without notice. 

Details and dates for O’Fallon’s Food Truck Frenzy events are posted online at www.ofallon.mo.us/food-truck-frenzy. For weather-related event information, call 636-379-5614.       

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !


www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .PlanFinalGuideAd

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

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Ball Diamond Specials from BEACON Ballfields ! (May)

May 29, 2018       |       BeaconAthletics.com        |       Ballfields.com
Check out this week’s batter’s box protection Anniversary Specials!

THIS WEEK’S FIELD THOUGHTS

Hitting and pitching mats are another tool in the groundskeeper’s tool box for maintaining the mound and home plate wear areas. They provide two major benefits to the playing surface. First, they eliminate the wear that would normally occur in the batter’s boxes or the front of the mound when any kind of practice is occurring. And secondly, the mat helps to manage the moisture in the clay areas beneath the mat during practice since normally in the past those two clay areas would have sat out in the open, susceptible to the evaporative forces of sun, wind and low humidities. These are the culprits that can rapidly steal valuable moisture from these high-wear areas…

Click to continue reading about how hitting mats can help from Beacon’s Paul Zwaska: The Benefits of Hitting Mats

Visit Ballfields.com frequently for tips & articles andGroundskeeperU.com for online training.

Pro-Model Hitting Mat with Flocked Home Plate  SAVE $20-$30

Typically ships within 3-5 business days. Protect your batters box and home plate area. 5mm thick turf mat with reinforced urethane foam back and permanent white lines and a white flocked home plate always conveniently there when you need. Available in green or clay. Baseball mats (6 x 12) or softball mats (7 x 12)(Discount applied automatically)

Pro-Model Hitting Mat without flocked home plate  SAVE $6 and get a FREE Throw Down Home Plate!

Typically ships within 3-5 business days. You can flip it around to save wear. The same 5mm thick turf mat with reinforced urethane foam back and permanent white lines, but no flocked home plate. But for a limited time you’ll get a FREE Thrown Down Home Plate to use with it. That means you can flip the hitting mat around to wear both sides evenly. Available in green or clay. Baseball mats (6 x 12) or softball mats (7 x 12)(Discount applied automatically)

OPEN BOX ITEM OF THE WEEK

OPEN BOX Item — Hollywood Kwik Release Base Set  — SAVE $75!  Will compress and then disengage from base upon impact, if necessary. Set of 3 bases. Like-new condition. NOW ONLY $290 (Reg. $365)

By Groundskeepers, For Groundskeepers.

The time and effort necessary to train new staff each year can become overwhelming, and that’s exactly why we developed Groundskeeper U. GU is the perfect online tool for teaching new staff, summer help, and volunteers. Through videos, photos, audio, and written material your staff will learn the right way with the tried and true practices taught by Paul Zwaska.

Enjoy this by-groundskeepers-for-groundskeepers resource and, when you find a lesson or technique you know others will benefit from, be sure to share it on social media and with your colleagues!

Visit Groundskeeper University

Find what you need, it’s all here.

If you there’s something your field needs, you’ll find it in our catalog. Request your copy of The Ultimate Ballfield Resource. Our 2018 catalog features a complete listing of products to keep you rolling with everything you need all season long. This is your go-to must-have resource.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !


www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .PlanFinalGuideAd

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Ball Diamond Specials from BEACON Ballfields ! (May)

May 22, 2018       |       BeaconAthletics.com        |       Ballfields.com
Check out this week’s moisture removal products Anniversary Specials!

THIS WEEK’S FIELD THOUGHTS

There’s no doubt, the Beacon Puddle Sponge is one of the best ways to remove puddled water off your infield skin. That’s because it will not disturb the infield soil or topdressing material as you set the sponge in place to soak up the excess water. Using brooms and roller squeegees on your infield skin to push water off is a BIG NO-NO! As that water is pushed around it picks up infield soil and topdressing, which helps to develop low spots, and will drop that material off at the edge of the skin in the grass which quickly contributes to building lips. Those lips further impede water movement off the infield skin surface, often making puddling issues chronic…

Click to continue reading about using a Puddle Sponge from Beacon’s Paul Zwaska: Sponge Away Your Puddle Problems

Visit Ballfields.com frequently for tips & articles andGroundskeeperU.com for online training.

Beacon Puddle Sponge  SAVE $10

IN STOCK: Typically ships the next business day. Remove puddles quickly and easily with this sponge that is built to last through several seasons of use. It’s easy, and won’t disturb your topdressing — absorb puddles, squeeze out the puddle water in a grassy off-field area and then hang to dry. Sold as set of 3 sponges. (Valid thru May 27, discount applied automatically)

Super Sopper  SAVE $100

Typically ships within 10-15 business days. The foam pad soaks up to ¾” of water and the adjustable roller presses it into a 14-gal holding tank. Easy transport and storage. (Valid thru May 27, discount applied automatically)

OPEN BOX ITEM OF THE WEEK

OPEN BOX Item — Bottle Buddy  — SAVE $14!  Keep it cool… and, out of the way. And, out of the dirt. Grab a 20 oz. bottle from the in-fence holder that keeps drinks cooler and out of the way (umpires will love it!). Perfect when paired with the Ball Baby in-fence ball return. These have just been re-boxed. Brand-new condition. NOW ONLY $55 (Reg. $69)

By Groundskeepers, For Groundskeepers.

The time and effort necessary to train new staff each year can become overwhelming, and that’s exactly why we developed Groundskeeper U. GU is the perfect online tool for teaching new staff, summer help, and volunteers. Through videos, photos, audio, and written material your staff will learn the right way with the tried and true practices taught by Paul Zwaska.

Enjoy this by-groundskeepers-for-groundskeepers resource and, when you find a lesson or technique you know others will benefit from, be sure to share it on social media and with your colleagues!

Visit Groundskeeper University

Find what you need, it’s all here.

If you there’s something your field needs, you’ll find it in our catalog. Request your copy of The Ultimate Ballfield Resource. Our 2018 catalog features a complete listing of products to keep you rolling with everything you need all season long. This is your go-to must-have resource.

Request a Catalog

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !


www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .PlanFinalGuideAd

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Amateur sports add more than $104M to Lee economy !

 

Amateur sports are almost like a stealth part of  Florida’s Lee County’s tourism economic profile.

Residents who don’t work in the hotel or restaurant industries may not realize what baseball players and swimmers and others bring to the county.

The direct economic impact of amateur sports on the county in 2017 was $65.9 million, according to a Lee County Sports Development Office study. The total economic impact including indirect spending was $104.4 million, according to the study.

How is that possible ?

So amateur sports spread over 12 months have a greater economic impact than spring training. Jim Larkin, general manager of the Crowne Plaza in Fort Myers, said the value of amateur sports is likely not well-known.

“I think when most people think of sports they think of spring training,” Mr. Larkin said.

Sports are something beyond the high-priced talent on display for a few weeks every year in spring training. It’s also amateur sports and baseball events such as Perfect Game, which is focused on youth baseball and had 41 events on county ballfields in 2017. It’s also Roy Hobbs Baseball, which is focused on adult players and has an annual four-week World Series in Lee County every fall.

It’s also fantasy camps and events such as the Florida High School Activities Association baseball state championships.

Baseball is at the heart of the amateur sports economic stimulus. Of the nearly $66 million of amateur sports economic impact infused into Lee County’s economy in 2017 about $47.7 million came from baseball. That’s roughly 71 percent of the total.

“Baseball is still the big dog,” Mr. Larkin said.

There is a simple reason for that.

“We market what Lee County has,” said Jeff Mielke, executive director of the sports development office.

Lee County has five baseball venues that are now used or were once used by Major League Baseball teams.

Terry Park in Fort Myers was the spring training home for four big-league teams between 1925 and 1987. That four-field complex is now used for amateur baseball.

The Boston Red Sox two old facilities, City of Palms Park in downtown Fort Myers and a five-field training facility two miles to the east, are now used for amateur baseball organizations such as Perfect Game and Roy Hobbs Baseball.

JetBlue Park, the Red Sox current spring home, is used for spring training only about six weeks out of the year. The rest of the year it gets heavy usage by amateur players.

That is also true of the CenturyLink Sports Complex, the spring home of the Minnesota Twins and the summer home of the minor-league Fort Myers Miracle.

Mr. Mielke said between all those facilities there are “26 Major League Baseball fields.”

That explains why nearly three-quarters of the amateur sports bonanza comes from baseball. But how many more events and games can be played at these venues ?

“We’ve about reached the saturation point,” Mr. Larkin said.

He said there are tentative plans to add perhaps five more fields and even lights to fields at the five-plex, the old Red Sox practice facility at the east end of Edison Avenue.

“That’s going to be a big boost,” Mr. Larkin said.

A county spokeswoman said there is a plan to develop eight youth fields and one Challenge Field — and that the complex could potentially have lights added.

Baseball drives the amateur sports economy engine in Lee County but it is far from the only sport. County officials hope to expand the number of sports that bring visitors to the county.

The number of amateur sports visitors in 2017 was 148,187, according to the study. Each of the 144 events accounted for an average of 1,045 room nights in hotels.

The events averaged $759,784 in total economic impact.

Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass, who is also chairman of the Tourist Development Council, doesn’t see any end to this trend.

He expects even more to come from baseball because of plans at what is called in the local sports jargon the “five-plex.”

The complex opened in 1993, the same year City of Palms Park opened.

“We’re looking to constantly expand,” Mr. Pendergrass said.

That means not only in venues but also in the diversity of sports events held in the county.

One of the benefits of these sports events, according to folks in tourism and hospitality, is timing. Big numbers are posted in the summer when tourism hits a lull.

July was the biggest month in 2017 for amateur sports in Lee County in terms of economic impact, hotel room nights, event participants and event spectators.

The direct economic impact in July was nearly $15.9 million.

“It’s something we’ve been talking about for years — year-round tourism,” Mr. Pendergrass said.

Mr. Larkin said July used to be considered a “lackluster” month for local hoteliers before the amateur sports boom.

Only one other month other than July topped $8 million in impact in 2017. That was November when the impact was measured at $11.6 million.

Amateur sports events in July accounted for 10,263 hotel nights, according to the study.

John Naylor, a former general manager of the Pink Shell Resort & Marina on Fort Myers Beach, knows how much the impact of amateur sports has grown in Lee County in the past quarter of a century. He recalls starting up a fledgling program to boost sports tourism in 1992.

“Our goal was to drive 2,500 room nights in the off-season,” Mr. Naylor said.

The only month in 2017 that didn’t produce at least 2,500 room nights was September with 2,152.

Mr. Mielke recalls that not that long ago a year with 100,000 room nights was considered a good year.

In 2017, that barrier was cracked by more than 50,000, with a total of 150,670.

Nobody likely knew it then but 1992 was the dawn of a new era in sports tourism. CenturyLink, which was originally called the Lee County Sports Complex, had just opened in 1991.

City of Palms Park and the “five-plex” were opened in 1993 and then in 2012 came JetBlue.

When JetBlue opened that also meant City of Palms Park and the “five-plex” were available for amateur events 12 months out of the year.

No matter the month the athletes and their families spend money.

“They’re buying gas here,” Mr. Pendergrass said. “They’re paying the gas tax, which helps with roads. They’re buying lunch and dinner.”

Lee County’s Sports Development Office has a $1 million budget, according to Mr. Mielke. He said those funds come from the bed tax. That means property taxes on Lee County residents does not fund his office and its mission.

He added that attracting 144 events last year wasn’t done solely by his four-person department.

“We are tied at the hip to parks and rec,” he said.

Lee County’s Park and Recreation Department maintains the facilities that helps attract sports organizers and keeps them coming back year after year.

There are some obvious events that won’t work in Lee County. It doesn’t have snow or mountains so snow skiing is out.

On the other hand, Lee County is blessed with serene and warm waterways well suited to other events.

“We’re trying to get more diverse, get more watersports here,” Mr. Pendergrass said.

That includes events held on frozen water.

The Eastern U. S. Synchronized Skating Championships were held in January at Germain Arena. Mr. Mielke said about 2,000 skaters participated. They came from up and down the East Coast, from Florida to Delaware to Massachusetts and other states.

He said organizers expressed an interest in returning in the future.

Mr. Pendergrass hopes to not only build more facilities but also upgrade facilities such as the 40-year-old Lee Civic Center in North Fort Myers so it could attract a more sports events.

“Long-term, I’ve said to staff, I haven’t said publicly, I’d like to see us do more things at the Civic Center,” Mr. Pendergrass said. “It’s kind of behind the times. … Long-term, bringing that up to date, either re-modeling or re-building so you can bring more events.”

That no doubt sounds good to Mr. Mielke.

“We’re focusing on adding indoor sports,” Mr. Mielke said.

Indoor or outdoor, the economic impact of amateur sports may continue growing in Lee County. 

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !


www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .PlanFinalGuideAd

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

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Concussions in Youth Sports: Who’s Liable ?

   Paul Anderson paul.anderson@marquette.edu) is director of the sports law program and National Sports Law Institute at Marquette University Law School.

Joseph’s mother, Debra Pyka, sued Pop Warner claiming that it knew of the harm related to concussions in youth football and did nothing to inform Joseph or his family. Pop Warner eventually settled the case, leaving its potential liability unclear.

Much of sports concussion awareness is related to class action lawsuits against the NFL and NCAA. However, while there are thousands of college and professional football players in the United States, there are millions of kids playing youth and high school football — 3.5 million and 1.1 million, respectively. As a result, the number of actual and potential concussions suffered by youth football players is exponentially higher.

Due to a lack of understanding of concussion symptoms and the problem of underreporting, the exact number of concussions occurring in youth and high school sports is difficult to pinpoint. However, a 2016 study by FAIRHealth found a 500 percent increase from 2010 to 2014 in concussion diagnosis for those under the age of 22, with 46 percent of those diagnoses occurring in the 15-to-18 age range.

Debra Pyka’s lawsuit on behalf of her deceased son is not unique. When a child suffers a concussion and its debilitating effects, parents often search for someone or some organization to be liable for their child’s harm.
Blame game
Some have argued that sports participants who cause others to suffer this type of harm should be liable. This is not likely, as a participant’s duty is to use due care to not increase the risks of participation in sport, and these days there is virtually no sport in which concussion is not an inherent risk of participation (Knight v Jewett, 3 Cal. 4th 296 (1992)). Some states even have statutes that provide immunity to participants for negligent conduct in sport. In Wisconsin, for example, sports participants would be immune from liability, as no cases have argued that another participant could or did intentionally cause a concussion (Wis. Stat. §895.525(4m)).

Coaches have also been sued when a player suffers a concussion. In 2017, Sean McNamee, a high school football player in Florida, won a $2 million settlement from the Hillsborough County School District after his fall onto field striping equipment caused a serious concussion. The court found that McNamee’s coach breached his duty not to increase the risks inherent in football participation by providing inadequate supervision of the football field and by leaving the striper there. Though coaches in every jurisdiction have a similar duty, they also benefit from several immunity defenses — including public official and sovereign immunity — that can come into play if they work for a public school or other public entity.

Medical personnel have also been sued based on claims that their negligence exacerbated the harm caused by a youth sports concussion. According to recent reports, on March 21 a jury in Montana found a health system not guilty after an athletic trainer it had provided to Belt High School cleared a football player to return to the field one week after he had suffered a concussion in September 2014. The player collapsed on the sideline with a severe brain injury during the subsequent game, leaving him a paraplegic — unable to speak or care for himself. Thirteen days of testimony revealed a lack of communication among coaches and care providers, but no liability was assigned to the health system. Although some cases have found that the medical provider’s own conduct caused the harm and breached the duty to provide reasonable medical care — for instance, an athletic trainer found liable for not adequately communicating to a physician the symptoms of a concussed football player (Pinson v State, 1995 Tenn. App. LEXIS 807 (Ct. App. Tenn. 1995)) — more often than not at the youth and high school levels there exists no individual qualified to provide proper medical care. After suffering his concussion, Sean McNamee was sent to the locker room, where he was examined by a coach instead of being referred to a medical provider.

Injured high school athletes and their parents have even sued the governing bodies that set the rules and often host the actual competitions during which injury occurs. Targeted organizations have included Pop Warner, USA Water Polo, USA Soccer and the National Federation of State High School Associations, as well as state high school athletic associations in Illinois and Pennsylvania. Each suit has focused on claims that these organizations bear some responsibility because their concussion protocols are inadequate and increase the risk of harm.

Courts, however, have continued to find concussions an inherent risk and have been reluctant to find these organizations liable.

While most state statutes mandate education for athletes and parents so that they can recognize the symptoms of concussion, barely more than half of these laws mandate education for coaches — the gatekeepers deciding when an athlete should be removed from a game. [Illustration by Arnel Reynon]

Evolving law
By 2015, all 50 states and the District of Columbia had enacted youth concussion laws modeled after the so-called Zackary Lystedt Law (Rev. Code Wash. §28A.600.190), passed in Washington state in 2009 in honor of a high school football player who suffered serious brain injuries after being sent back into a game with a concussion.

While most state statutes mandate education for athletes and parents so that they can recognize the symptoms of concussion, barely more than half of these laws mandate education for coaches — the gatekeepers deciding when an athlete should be removed from a game. In addition, while every statute includes some sort of return to play (RTP) guidelines, none specifically follows any recognized medical standards for these guidelines. While virtually all statutes leave the RTP decision to a health care provider, it can be difficult to determine exactly who is qualified.

Perhaps most important, half of these state laws provide some form of immunity. Wisconsin’s law, for example, provides civil immunity from harm for coaches, officials and volunteers in certain circumstances for failure to remove a player and for improper authorization to participate (Wis. Stat. §118.293(5)). Given this immunity — and the fact that courts will rarely hold other players, coaches, medical care providers and organizing associations liable unless they increase the risk of harm — injured children are left with little hope of recovery.

This situation may have changed in July 2017. Drew Swank had been diagnosed by a physician as having suffered a concussion after a violent hit while playing 8-man football in Spokane Valley, Wash., in September 2009. His symptoms cleared, but while playing in the following week’s game, Swank vomited and collapsed near the end of the second quarter. His parents alleged that the team’s volunteer coach berated Swank during that game, even pulling on his helmet’s facemask. He died two days later.

Faced with a state law and its immunity provision (the model for Wisconsin’s provision), the court reviewing the Swanks’ claim against the school and coach implied a cause of action into the law that can be brought to enforce educational standards and other requirements (Swank v. Valley Christian Sch., 188 Wash.2d 663 (2017)).

If other states follow this court’s lead, we may begin to see statutes containing educational, RTP and other additional standards beyond the already established duty to provide a sports experience that does not increase the risk of harm. This may finally provide some impetus for coaches and others involved to be properly trained and to err on the side of caution when any symptoms of concussion occur.

In the end, this is not a football problem alone. The risk of concussion is high in many other sports — from soccer and field hockey to water polo and cheerleading — and if courts allow enforcement of these laws, perhaps we will shift from focusing on the after effects of concussions to following standards of care that protect athletes from this harm in the first instance.


This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of Athletic Business with the title “Concussions in youth sports: Who’s liable?.” Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry.

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