The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

Excuses Why Sports Organizations Don’t Buy Insurance !

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Many sports administrators mistakenly believe that they don’t need to buy Accident and General Liability insurance to cover their sports programs due a variety of reasons. Based on my 22 years in the sports insurance industry, I have compiled the following list of invalid excuses:

1. We Have Never Had A Serious Injury Or Lawsuit In The Past…….

The fact is that sports lawsuits tend to be infrequent but have a high severity potential in terms of potential damages owed. Some sports organizations may go over five years without a serious incident but it is just a matter of time.

2. Waiver / Release Forms Will Prevent Lawsuits

The fact is that the use of a well drafted waiver / release forms is a great tool for potential contractual transfer and for triggering the assumption of risk defense under some circumstances; however, they won’t prevent a lawsuit from being filed. Even if the waiver / release does result in the lawsuit being dismissed on summary judgment, it may still cost from $10,000 to $20,000 in legal defense costs to get to that point.

Typically, a poorly drafted waiver / release will be of little value and most sports organizations don’t pay enough attention to the details. Also, in the context of a minor, only ten states will presently accept the signature of a parent to bind the minor which may result in lawsuit dismissal on summary judgment. In the other 40 states, the fallback position will be to use the waiver / release to trigger the assumption of risk defense which may result in a significant reduction in damages owed. But……..a waiver / release will never take the place of General Liability insurance.

3. Volunteer Immunity Statutes Will Prevent Lawsuits

State and federal volunteer immunity statutes are a positive step in the right direction. However, they typically have too many loopholes and exceptions that limit their effectiveness. For example, most immunity statutes exempt protection in the event of grossly negligent behavior, willful or wanton conduct, or the reckless disregard for the safety of others. The problem is that most lawsuits make these allegations and the judge will have to sort out if they have any merit which can take some time. The greater the time that is taken to sort this out, the greater the legal fees.

In addition, these statutes don’t protect paid staff and the sports organization as an entity itself.

4. Employees / Volunteers / Administrators Will Provide Their Own Individual Liability Policies

Many sports organizations will leave it up to the individual volunteers or administrators to protect themselves through Homeowner’s Liability, Personal Umbrella, or Coach Certification Liability policies. This can be a dangerous strategy for many reasons.

Homeowner’s Liability and Personal Umbrella policies may have an exclusion for lawsuits arising out of activities of the insured person as a “sports volunteer”. Furthermore, they won’t protect against the non bodily injury or non property damage lawsuits that a Directors & Officers policy may protect against such as discrimination, wrongful termination, failure to follow own rules or bylaws, etc.

Coach Certification Liability policies are a great membership benefit and were designed to act as a safety net in the event that other insurance is not in force or has an problem exclusion. However, they should not be relied on in lieu of primary insurance for the sports organization. I will explain this in detail in another blog posting.

Source:  John Sadlersports-insurance-logo.gif

 

Copyright 2002-2009, Sadler & Company, Inc.

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Baseball Field Maintenance Preseason Ball Park Audit Checklist !

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Playing Surface – Infield Dirt Area

Soil
• too loose to provide good running traction or balls die instead of bouncing.
• surface is not loose enough around sliding zones for safe sliding or balls bounce too high.
• too abrasive (rocks, etc) for safe sliding.
• too compacted to provide good drainage. 

Running paths / Sliding zones – have become worn and dip down near bases and need to be leveled off.

Batter’s box / Home plate / Pitcher’s mound – have become worn and uneven. 

Pitching mound – does not include the proper ‘table’ area at the top of mound behind and to the sides of the rubber.

Infield area – has low spots, holes or is not level and should be dragged / re-graded.

Soil build-up – there is a hazardous lip or rolling hump between the skinned area and the turf.

Skinned areas – have unsafe wet spots and / or puddles.

Warning track – there is no track or it is less than 10 feet wide.

Warning track – is overgrown with vegetation and / or uneven in grade. Watch out for unmarked sprinkler boxes in this area.

Foul areas – are uneven in grade, need reconditioning, or are overgrown with vegetation. 

 Playing Surface – Grass ChecklistBare spots – hard soil surface exposed.

Soil sub-surface – is roughly graded making an unsafe running surface.

Grass edges – grass to dirt area is not a straight line, is not level, or turf is worn too back from proper line.

Soil sub-surface – is too wet or drains poorly making an unsafe running surface.

Sprinklers – stick up above the dirt level and could cause a player to trip.

Texture, density or height – turf is not uniform making an unsafe running surface.

Irrigation – irrigation system does not adequately cover turf areas or comes on during practices or games.

Thatch – excessive thatch is causing turf to be lumpy and unsafe to run on.

Vegetation – there are weeds with thorns, bristles, or burrs in turf.

Uneven surfaces – there are animal mounds and holes in the turf area.

Tire ruts – there are hazardous tire ruts in turf.

Playing Surface – General Checklist
Maintenance equipment – such as rakes, hoses, etc, have been left on the field.

Litter and unsafe debris – is scattered around the field and player / spectator areas.

Sprinkler heads, drainage grates, valve boxes, etc, – in the field are above grade or have sharp edges or unsafe protrusions or boxes have no covers.

Accidents – there have been reports from / about players running into surrounding objects such as fencing, light posts, bleachers, etc.

Field design – our facility does not comply with recommended field design specifications. May vary from specs provided that the safety of players and spectators is not compromised.

Home plate / Field layout – has been unsafely altered. Home plate has been moved back toward the backstop.

Bases & Anchoring ChecklistBase coverings – have unsafe rips or gouges.

Base framework or hardware – is loose or damaged.

Base ground stake – is unsafely protruding above the surface grade.

Base ground stake – is out of alignment or not level with the surface.

Base ground stake – is not firmly secured in its concrete footing.

Base ground stake – and its footing are not installed according to the manufacturer’s requirements.

Bases – do not seat properly with the ground elevation or they are seated loosely.

Bases – are not entirely within fair territory when foul line is drawn from home plate to foul pole.

Concrete footings – have rounded edges and may twist out of place in the ground.

Home plate – surface is not level with the surrounding surface. Corners of plate are turned
upward.

Home plate – surface is worn or irregular.

Pitcher’s rubber – is not level with the surrounding surface or is not secured safely into the ground.

Pitcher’s rubber – is showing unsafe wear or gouges.

Pitcher rubber and home plate – are not aligned with each other and angle off.

 Fencing ChecklistFence posts –
• are loose or improperly set in the ground.
• are on the inside of the playing area.

Dome caps – all dome caps are not in place.

Concrete footings – are exposed above ground.

Fencing – is not securely attached to the fence posts with loose or broken ties; boards not securely attached to anchor frame.

Gaps – there are unsafe gaps under fencing.

Bottom of fence – there is no bottom tension wire or railing to secure the bottom of fence; there are gaps between the bottom of the fence and the dirt.

Top rail – there is no top railing to secure fence.

Chain link – wire ends are exposed along the top.

Protrusions – there are damaged portions of fencing that are loose, sharp, or unsafe.

Gates – are hard to open / close. Hinge or latch problems.

Backstop – there are unsafe gaps or netting with worn out boards or fencing.

Outfield fence – temporary fence is sturdy and not collapsible.

Spectator Area ChecklistNuts and bolts – on the seating area are loose or missing or protruding.

Guard railing – side and back protective railing is not in place and solid.

End caps – plank or railing end caps are loose or missing.

Walking surfaces – are uneven and inaccessible.

Steps – are even and accessible.

Wooden planks – are worn out or splintered.

Grandstand – there are gaps between adjacent units.

Grandstand – adjacent units do not match in size.

Other – there are hazardous protrusions, edges, drop offs, gaps, or pinch points.

General Safety ChecklistFoul lines – skinned foul lines have become rutted.

Chalking material – use is irritating to the eyes. Lime or similar base should not be used.

Signage – there are no warning signs posted informing players or spectators of rules or hazardous conditions.

Comforts – there are no clean restrooms for convenience.

Concessions – facility is not checked for safety and compliance with local health regulations.

Construction areas – areas that are hazardous or under repair have not been blocked off or identified.

Communications – is not happening between the maintenance staff and the facility users.

Personal protective equipment – was not distributed to all employees / volunteers based on the tasks at hand.

Car Parking – general lighting problems, potholes, or not accessible from ball park.

Orientation – employees /volunteers did not received safety orientation for job tasks and the operation of power equipment.

Dugout ChecklistFencing – does not extend to the end of the dugout area.

Benches – are worn and in disrepair.

Equipment – storage system is sharp, worn and unsafe.

Waste containers – supply and location is
inadequate.

Player area – is not large enough to house all players or their equipment.

Lighting Checklist Lighting system – Mandatory that an audit/check to be completed by qualified personnel in accordance with AS 2650 before season commences.

Light bulbs – there are burned out light bulbs.

Utility poles – there is no padding for the light poles, concrete bases or base bolts.

Source:  Jim Reinor / Former Rangers Groundskeeper

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Family Appreciation Day: Winter Sports Park Festival !

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AMESBURY, MA. — The Greater Haverhill and Amesbury Chambers of Commerce are collaborating to host the first “Family Appreciation Day: Winter Festival.” This event, originally scheduled for Jan. 14, will now take place on Jan. 21, at Amesbury Sports Park, 12 South Hunt Road in Amesbury.

The Winter Festival will feature unlimited snow tubing, an open skating rink, magic shows, and more. The sports park will have food and beverages for sale. For people of all ages, the event will start in the afternoon to allow young families and school-aged children to participate, and will continue into the evening to allow for professionals to participate after the work day concludes.

Families are encouraged to participate and businesses are encouraged to treat their hard-working employees. Participants should bring their own ice skates to enjoy the open skating rink. The event is split into two waves or blocks of time; Afternoon Wave (3:30 to 6:15 p.m.) and Evening Wave (6:15 to 9 p.m.). Tickets are $10 per wave or $18 for both.

Tickets must be pre-ordered by visiting either the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce, 80 Merrimack St., second floor, Haverhill, HaverhillChamber.com, 978-373-5663 or the Amesbury Chamber of Commerce, 5 Market Square, Amesbury, AmesburyChamber.com

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El Paso, Texas Sportspark to Open Soon !

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EL PASO, Texas — The east side Sportspark is set to open in the next couple of weeks and El Paso County officials said it will offer more than just new fields. This comes after renovations have been in the works for more than a year. Six fields are already in use and four more will open with the rest of the park. That includes a new concession stand, batting cages, an elevator in the main building and new security cameras. “It’s a great thing that they’re finally getting around to opening that Sportspark, because I see kids with not a whole lot to do and they just end up getting themselves in trouble,” East El Paso resident Mark Aguilar said.

  While conflict between the project’s architect and contractor put construction behind a few months, El Paso County Commissioner Carlos Leon said the renovations turned out as he expected. “I think the original design is what you see. There’s been a lot of differences in opinion between the architect and the contractor in so far as getting it done,” Leon said. Leon said the total project costs about $7 million and the county paid for it through a bond issue. “We’re hoping that these delays will not affect the new season, and it’s up to the county attorney’s office and the county to work things out to make sure that in fact there was not a loss in possible funds,” Leon said.

  Officials also expect the new Sportspark to put El Paso on the map in the baseball world. “Now that we have an actual baseball facility that people are proud of and we can actually host events, large events, it’s going to be an exciting moment for El Paso,” league coordinator Claudio Fernandez said. More out-of-town teams coming in for tournaments could also boost the local economy. “I think when you talk about leagues that are coming from out of town, that means that the restaurant business is going to boom and that means that other businesses that feed into this are also going to boom,” Leon said.

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What Bosses Should Never Ask Employees to Do !

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They’re bosses. They’re in charge. They have the power.

But while some tasks are obviously out of bounds, others are less so — which is why bosses also shouldn’t use their powers to:

Make employees feel they should attend “social” events.

No matter where they happen to be, whenever employees are with people they work with, it’s like they’re at work. Whatever happens there doesn’t stay there; it comes back to work.

Embarrassing behavior aside, some people simply don’t like to socialize outside work. And that’s their choice… unless a boss does something to make them feel they should attend. Then what was probably intended as a positive get-together becomes anything but.

And keep in mind that “pressure” can be as simple as saying, “Hey, Joel, I hope you can come to the Christmas party…” While all you may be doing is letting Joel know you enjoy his company, if he doesn’t want to attend, this is what he hears: “Joel, if you don’t come to the party I will be disappointed in you.”

The best outside social events have themes that work for employees. Maybe it’s a kids’ Christmas party. Or a picnic at a theme park. Or taking anyone who wants to go to a sporting event. The right move is to choose one or two broad themes that cover the majority of employees interests, and let that be that.

Bottom line: never try to force camaraderie or togetherness. It doesn’t work.

Make employees feel they should donate to a charity.

The United Way was the charity of choice at a previous employer, and the company’s goal was 100 percent employee participation.

Pressure enough? It got worse; every supervisor reported results from their direct reports to the head of fundraising… who also was the plant manager.

The United Way is a great charity, one worthy of support. But bosses should never, even implicitly, pressure employees to donate their time or money. Sure, make it easy. And match contributions if you can. But make donations voluntary, and never leave the impression that results are monitored on an individual basis.

And don’t do the “support my kid’s fundraiser” thing either.

Bosses should never make employees feel that what they do with their money is the company’s business.

Ask an employee to do something another employee was asked to do.

You assign Marty a project. Then you find out Marty hasn’t finished and probably won’t. You’re frustrated with Marty, and you really need to get it done… so you plop it on Sarah’s desk because you know Sarah will come through.

And she will, but she’ll also resent it. She might be gratified to know you feel you can count on her, but she definitely won’t be thrilled about having to pull another person’s weight.

Leave Sarah alone. Deal with Marty.

Cause employees to go without food at mealtime hours.

Say you go to a 5 p.m. wedding. If there’s a reception afterwards you expect a meal to be served, right? Bosses shouldn’t invite employees out for after-work drinks at 6 p.m. The time makes it a company dinner, not company drinks.

Lunchtime meetings are the same. If it’s a working lunch, provide food. Some employees go out to eat, so if there’s no food they’re stuck.

And always err on the side of caution. If you order pizza for a group and you run out, some employees won’t remember they had two great slices; they’ll only remember they wanted a third… and you were too “cheap” to provide it.

Ask employees to evaluate themselves.

An employee who does a great job always question the need for self-evaluations. Doesn’t the boss already know they do a great job? On the flip side, employees who do a poor job rarely rate themselves as poor, which turns what could have been a constructive feedback session into a potential argument.

Self-evaluations may sound empowering or inclusive but are almost always a waste of time. If it’s feedback you want, ask the employee you can do to help further develop their skills or their career.

That’s information every employee will be glad to share.

Ask employees to evaluate their peers.

I’ve done peer evaluations. They’re no fun. “Peer” means “work with.” Who wants to criticize people they need to work with? Claim evaluations are confidential all you want, but people always figure out who said what about whom.

Bosses should know employee performance inside-out. If they don’t, they should never use employee peers as a crutch. Great bosses dig in, pay attention, and truly know the people they lead.

Reveal personal information in the interest of “team building.”

I once took part in a transformational leadership offsite. We were told to make small boxes out of cardboard. (Why do offsites always seem to involve arts and crafts?) We were told to cut out magazine photos that represented the “outer” us, the part we show to the world.

Then we were told to write down some things no one knew about us on slips of paper, put the papers inside our box (get it?)… and reveal our secrets to the group when it was our turn.

I was okay with putting pictures on the outside of my poorly constructed box, even though my lack of scissor skills was a tad embarrassing. I didn’t want to create “reveal” strips, though, and said so.

“But why not?” the facilitator asked.

“Because those things are private,” I said.

“That’s the point!” he cried. “The goal is to reveal things people don’t know about you.”

“They don’t know those things about me because I don’t want them to know those things about me,” I said.

“But think about how much better you will be able to work together when you truly know each other as individuals,” he said.

“Knowing a person’s secrets doesn’t help me work better with that person. Plus sometimes I think it’s possible to know too much,” I said. “If Pete and his wife like to dress up as a Star Wars characters on their date nights, that’s cool for them… but I’d really rather not know.”

(I stuck to my guns and didn’t end up participating, a potentially career-limiting move that turned out fine when upper management’s focus shifted from “Transformational Leadership” to “Back to Basics” and voila! I was back in vogue.)

Bosses don’t need to know their employees’ innermost thoughts and feelings. More importantly, they have no right to their innermost thoughts and feelings. They do have a right to expect solid performance.

Talk about performance, and leave all the deep dark secrets where they belong.

Ask employees to alert them when they “veer off course.”

One of my bosses was long-winded. He realized it and asked me to signal him whenever I thought he was monopolizing a meeting. I gave him the signal a couple of times; in each case he irritatedly waved me off, probably because he felt what he was saying was just too darned important.

Bosses should never ask employees to monitor their performance. To the employee it’s a no-win situation.

Ask employees to do something they don’t do.

Not something a boss “wouldn’t” do, but that a boss doesn’t do. Would is irrelevant. Actions are everything. So lead by example. Once in a while, help out on the crappiest jobs. Not every time, but definitely some of the time.

Employees may never care as much as their boss, but they will care a lot more — and will be willing to do whatever it takes — when they know their boss is also willing to do whatever it takes. Once in a while, “all hands on deck” really should mean “all.”

Think it doesn’t matter? It’s been twenty-five years but I still remember the plant manager helping us load trucks at midnight in an attempt to meet a critical customer deadline. We worked our butts off because we weren’t just told how much it mattered — we could see how much it mattered.

What about you ?

What do you think bosses should never ask employees to do ? 

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3 Social Media Trends You Should Know About !

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   It’s the beginning of a new year, and chances are you’re resolving to do several (hundred?) things for the first time, differently, or better. But before you start listing out your new and improved social media plans for 2014, I’ve scoured the Internet to give you a head start.

To find out what the experts are saying will be big in social media this year, read on. Their predictions will help you nail those resolutions — and maybe even keep a few of them.

1. The Social Media Job Scene: Bigger and Better

According to Business Insider, there are six social media jobs that are going to explode in 2014: SEO Specialist, Social Media Strategist, Online Community Manager, Social Media Marketing Manager, Social Media Marketing Coordinator, and Blogger or Social Media Copywriter.

If you’re determined to find a social media job this year, research the jobs on this list — which are you most qualified for? Interested in? On the flip side, if you’re an executive at a company that plans to invest more in social media this year, these jobs are good predictors of what people will be paying attention to in the social world in 2014. Know anything about SEO and social media? If not, you may want to add “hiring an SEO specialist” to your resolution list.

2. Beyond Facebook: The New Platforms on the Block

Forbes outlined the top seven social media trends it predicts will dominate 2014. The most interesting? MySpace will make a comeback, Google+ will “become a major factor” and there will be more micro-video. Here’s what this means for you:

  • Since MySpace part two is still in its infancy, I wouldn’t suggest building out an entire social strategy for your brand on the platform just yet. I would, however, keep an eye on if — and how —brands are adopting the platform this year.
  • As the article states, Google+ is proving itself to be an integral part of Google’s grand scheme in terms of SEO, social signals, and providing a more personalized search experience. If you don’t have a Google+ account, this should be the year you resolve to try it out.
  • If you haven’t mastered Vine or Instagram’s video feature yet, now is the time to get comfortable. If the prediction is correct, making compelling short videos will be as important as writing in 140 characters. The earlier you can master the trend, the better.

3. Small Moments, Big Trends

PR Daily took a look at 10 social media moments in 2013 that it believes are precursors to major trends in 2014, including Oreo’s tweet during the Super Bowl, Facebook launching hashtags, and Pinterest’s makeover. What do these milestone moments mean for your social media resolutions this year?

  • Oreo’s hugely successful live tweet during the Super Bowl was a moment that social media experts talked about all year. PR Daily predicts that, similar to the way brands pay for product placement, companies will make deals with networks to learn a TV show’s storyline beforehand so their content is more timely. Which would be a really interesting way for brands to not only publish timely content, but also hugely relevant content. Resolution: Watch this space.
  • PR Daily predicts that Facebook’s introduction of hashtags signals that brands will be incorporating hashtags into their TV, print, and radio spots more frequently to strengthen their social campaigns. If you’re not fluent in the language of hashtags, make that one of your top goals.
  • Pinterest got a makeover this year and introduced features like Place Pins, analytics, and Rich Pins, strengthening its ROI for brands. Not on Pinterest? Make a point to check out its new functionality.

As you’re mapping out your priorities for the year, there’s nothing more powerful than arming yourself with information. But if you find yourself getting lost in the noise, remember your #1 resolution for your brand: Keep it genuine and authentic. The rest will follow.

Happy New Year !

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