Sporting Events: When Fans Suffer

The numbers don’t lie: People, all over the world, love sports. They encourage their children to participate in them, they watch them on TV, they follow the stats and stories online or in print, and they flock to sporting events whether it be basketball, NASCAR or the Winter X-Games. Competition and the quest to be the very best is something that has been innate in humans since before the invention of the wheel, or even fire.

‘Rub Some Dirt On It’

It’s nothing anybody would wish for, but injuries happen in the course of all manner of sporting events. It’s the nature of the game, especially some of the rougher sports like football, bullriding or boxing. What is not expected, however, is the occasional instance in which the person who sustains the injury isn’t one of the gladiators in the arena, but one of the fans in attendance.

Not What You’d Expect

This has been exemplified tragically and clearly in Major League Baseball this year, but not in ways one would imagine; indeed, only one person has ever died from being struck by a foul ball in all of MLB history. In Los Angeles, a San Francisco Giants fan was beaten into a comatose state by Dodger fans. A fan at a Texas Rangers game recently lost his life when he fell over a balcony railing. A young boy at Staples Center recently took a similar tumble during a Lakers game, although he survived the fall.

As far as the old ball-in-the-stands injuries are concerned, most courts will find (as they have in Boston) that fans assume a reasonable expectation of risk when they purchase a ticket and settle into their seats for a sporting contest, one in which high-speed objects flying into the stands is a normal part of the game. The same can be said of hockey, when pucks can fly over the glass partition surrounding the ice rink. When it comes to sports, it’s all about caveat emptor – let the buyer beware… Literally.