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How does passive supervision play into PA & NJ sport injuries and lawsuits?



Passive supervision is a serious problem which often results in sports accidents and injuries. A coach or supervisor is engaging in passive supervision when they are physically present, but not doing anything. Proper supervision begins with being physically present. However, that is just the beginning. Paying attention or active supervision is critical to avoid sports accidents and injuries.

For instance, a coach is watching his football players during practice; however, his mind is elsewhere.  He does not see that one of his players is improperly tackling another player. The player is leading with his head to tackle another player, which is very dangerous because it may result in a head injury.  Therefore, the coach has to be physically present as well as mentally present.

Another common mistake in supervision, other than being physically present with your mind elsewhere, is supervising from the wrong position.  Many times, coaches will go into the middle of the environment (like a wrestling event) and stand over the kids.  However, when you are standing over the kids, you are only watching some kids and not the kids behind you.   Using the proper technique of getting into the right position to supervise is very important, and in the wrestling event, the best position is to have the supervisor's back against the wall so he can see all of the kids.

In addition, supervisors should not be overseeing a sport they don't know anything about. The supervisor or coach has to know what he is watching because with that knowledge he would know to watch out for hazards.  For example, a basketball coach should not be supervising football players during practice.  The basketball coach probably does not know anything about proper tackling techniques.  If he doesn’t know how players should safely tackle other players, how can he spot a player who is not safely tackling another player?  Therefore, being there is important, but knowing what you are watching is also important.

When a sporting event is not properly supervised, that is when kids or participants can get hurt.  If injuries are the result of negligent supervision, the supervisor may be held liable for the participant's injuries.

Injured players may be able to financially recover from the coaches and/or school or sports organization for the following damages:

  • medical expenses,
  • lost wages,
  • pain and suffering, and/or
  • out of pocket expenses.

For more information about sports and recreation safety, order our FREE DVD, which features Richard Borkowski, the nation's foremost expert in the field of sports and recreation safety.

*Last updated on July 9, 2015

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