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Coaching Negligence

Sports are undeniably a major part of American educational institutions. They are a source of tradition and pride for both the individuals involved and the communities they represent. It is therefore understandable how worked up we get about our school teams, and how seriously coaches and athletes from middle school through the university level take their sports.

As with any competitive event, one of the most fundamental components to the success all teams strive for is toughness, both mental and physical. However, as important as it may be for coaches to produce this sort of stamina in his or her players, they must above all be concerned with ensuring their team’s safety.

In recent years, several cases have emerged in which coaches have denied players access to water during grueling exercises in extreme heat, resulting in heat stroke and sometimes even the death of a player under their care. A recent trial in Kentucky found a former high school football coach guilty of homicide after he forced his players to run sprints without water in 94-degree heat until one of the players collapsed from heat exhaustion. The student was brought to the hospital with a body temperature of 107 degrees and died three days later from complications.

This sort of reckless behavior is too often excused as “part of the game.” In reality, it is not only counterproductive to building team spirit, but also dangerous and cruel. Children at the middle school and high school level are especially vulnerable, as they are eager to please their coaches, not as well informed as to the medical dangers of strenuous conditions, and more prone to physical exhaustion.

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The pressures and motivations to produce a strong group of players are high. We tend hold coaches as heroes when their teams succeed, and to place blame on them when they do not. But this sort of pressure is no excuse for criminally negligent behavior when a minor’s health is involved.

If you or a loved one has been affected by actions that you believe constitute negligence on the part of a child’s coach or trainer, contact the Kenosha personal injury lawyer of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ® at 800-242-2874 for a free initial consultation.