Here is my dilemma.
I am a high school baseball coach, and the first season I witnessed these kids playing their first game I was disgusted. Their coaches never did anything but sit there, and the boys moved out of the way of the baseball at the plate 36 times. Simple math, that is 9 free runs, and in our league, when the first pitcher hits 4 kids, he is removed. Every pitcher after that can only hit 2 before they are removed. Quite simply, if those 36 balls had hit our team, we would have won by default without having to hit, run, field, pitch or even play the game.
Keep in mind this team had a head coach that for the last 7 years lost every single game he played with them.
Now I am head coach, and this was our first practice:
I stood at the plate, with my helmet on, and showed the boys how to correctly turn in to the ball to best reduce possibility for any injury, in short, there is an extremely small chance of injury this way. I let them throw the ball as hard as they could, and took 16 welts from my team.
Next, I put each kid up there and let them take a pitch as well. I throw in the upper 90's, but I was only barely touching 60 if that in practice.
They all had fun with this, and took it to heart and since then, very few kids have moved out of the way at the plate. However, if they do move during a game, they take one from me in practice much harder.
So here is the deal, I've been getting some heat for this training tactic, to which my rebuttal always goes unanswered:
So would you not have me hit ground balls to the boys, because the ball might hop up and hit them?
Would you not have me run the team, because they might twist an ankle?
Would you not have me let them play catch because they might miss the ball and get hit?
Would you not have me let them bat during a game because the pitcher might hit them?
Would you tell a football coach they cannot have the boys tackling during practice because someone might get a jammed finger?
The conversation always drops there, because no one has any real answer to my questions. The fact of the matter is, in my opinion, is that in every sport, there is a risk of injury. And to shun one part of the sport for want of safety is to shun the entire sport. You cannot have runners run the bases but not slide because they might get a skinned elbow, you cannot have the catcher move out of the way of a wild pitch because it might hit him in the arm. Quite simply, injury possibilities are everywhere, and in this game, the whole point of my teaching is to keep these kids from getting injured. If the kids hated this tactic, they would let me know. Instead, they always try to see who has the biggest welts at the end of the game.
My question is this, is there any legal difficulties that could be presented to me if I continue this training method? If it is completely legal and under my jurisdiction, I will continue. But if a lawsuit should be able to present itself against this training method, I will cease immediately.
Thank you in advance for any help on this topic.
The state of jurisdiction is Kansas, USA.
1 Answer from Attorneys
Based upon the facts you present, it is possible that you and the school may be sued.. The chance of injury may not support a judgment. But, if an injury occurs (such as a kid taking one in the eye) you may have few defenses available. For job security purposes, you should get this training method approved by the athletic director. Otherwise, the first claim will likely mean your termination, and possible arrest for assault.
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