Stay Safe: Keep Your Mind on the Game While At the Game
Baseball is referred to as America’s pastime while football seems to be the more popular game. Popularity contest aside, thousands of fans and observers attend baseball games of all levels—T-Ball to Major League Baseball–all across the United States. Baseball is a game that requires some degree of patience due to the deliberate pace of the game. Fans typically fill in the gaps between the action with conversations, using smartphones, reading, and other momentary diversions. Unfortunately these diversions sometimes play a role in distracting fans from the dangers of a baseball game. Those dangers come in two primary forms—flying balls and flying bats.
This season has seen several fan injuries at Major League Baseball games due to flying baseballs (Wrigley Field and Comerica Park in Detroit) and bats (Fenway Park). MLB is now reviewing rules and standards for fan safety and the idea of extending the protective netting in ballparks is once again being discussed. A lawsuit has been filed by a fan seeking class action status to force MLB’s hand on the fan safety issue. As you can well imagine, liability issues abound when it comes to fans sustaining injuries at live sporting events.
There is no telling whether and when any changes will be made to the ballparks but in the meantime fans can take several precautions to protect themselves when at games. First and foremost, pay attention to the field of play while the game is taking place. Save the extended diversions for pitching changes, between innings, injury pauses, and other extended “time-outs” from live action. If you must take your eyes off the field of play during live action aim to do so in a limited fashion and position yourself such that you are not as likely to be struck by a ball or bat.
Another thought is to use extreme caution when diving and moving for foul balls and fan giveaways being thrown into the stands. Never lean over a wall or railing especially when you are not on the ground level of the stadium. Be sure to supervise all children in your care and do not allow them to wander near railings, walls, and other areas where they may fall or otherwise be injured.
Several years ago I witnessed a fan injury first-hand. My youngest brother and I went to a Carolina Hurricanes hockey game in Raleigh. It was a first-round NHL playoff game so the stands were packed and the action was intense. At one point in the game a puck was deflected into the stands a few rows below where we were seated. Unfortunately a woman was not paying attention to the game and was struck flush in the forehead with the puck. She seemed a bit dazed by the contact and her face was a bloody mess within a few moments. EMTs and stadium personnel quickly came to her aid and she appeared to be okay. Moral of the story: ALWAYS pay attention to the ice surface during live action at a hockey game.
These thoughts for protection apply to all live sporting events and I encourage you to implement them at your next game. Use common sense and some forethought to maximize your safety. Last but not least, enjoy your next game.