Sporting goods manufacturers may be hazardous to your health.
That's the word coming out of Montana as a jury found aluminum bat manufacturer Hillerich & Bradsby(maker of Louisville Slugger) liable for the 2003 death of prep baseball pitcher Brandon Patch. (Local paper's coverage of the ruling)
The crux of the prosecution's argument in civil court was that Hillerich & Bradsby failed to provide adequate warning as to the dangers of their aluminum bats. Though I'm saddened to hear of the tragedy that has befallen the Patch family, I'm not entirely sure what "adequate warning" means.
A label on the bat? A signed waiver accompanying each Louisville Slugger? A safety coordinator at each youth baseball game in the country explaining what "can happen" when a ball pings off a bat?
I'd be curious to see what you folks think. I believe this ruling could have long-lasting consequences to youth sports in this country.
Los Angeles Times reporter Melissa Rohlin did a great job with an in-depth piece on cheerleading, particularly at the high school level, and just how dangerous and unsupervised the stunts are.
The father of one cheerleader who was seriously injured in a stunt told Rohlin, "I didn't know that they were throwing her up in the air. That's for professionals. Why would the school allow that?"
It's an interesting question, and the statistics that the Los Angeles Times throws out there are startling. The most amazing evidence was done by Fox Sports, which scientifically examined a common cheer stunt--the basket toss--where a cheerleader is thrown in the air and caught by three of her teammates.
Fox concluded that the impact of a fall from a basket toss (basically, if the teammates don't catch her) is 2,000 pounds. In comparison, the force that an NFL linebacker crunches an opponent is 1,800 pounds.
So what do you think? Is there reason to be seriously concerned about the sport of cheerleading? Should there be a rule limiting how high in the air cheerleaders can be thrown, if at all?
I know at my college alma mater, they used to do amazing, complicated stunts about 10 years ago. Cheerleaders weighing about 95 pounds would get flung in the air by big bulky guys, do about three backflips and fall safely into the arms of 2-3 teammates. They stopped in recent years, basically going no higher than standing on the outstretched arms of their male teammates. It's not quite as cool looking, but you also don't tense up when they're on their way down.
Is that how it should be? Or should we chalk up these injuries (some very serious) to being part of the sport?