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Concussion-Related Lawsuits in Youth Sports

April 21, 2014

There will be an increase in head-injury-related insurance claims and lawsuits “in a variety of youth sports and non-professional organized sports leagues,” according to an online article that appeared in today’s edition of Insurance Journal.

From the article:

[Robin] Dusek, a Chicago-based attorney, said insurers should prepare for increasing claims arising from players and their families against non-professional sports leagues, including high school and junior high football, soccer, hockey, rugby and lacrosse.

“We live in a litigious culture. There’s more awareness of this as a problem. I think that’s going to cause more people to take action and make them see it a lot of different ways because deep pockets are always an issue with litigation. I think it’s going to be particularly apparent with youth sports, because a lot of park districts and schools will be protected or protected to some degree by governmental immunity, and so they won’t be a viable target for a lawsuit,” Dusek said.

The claims could impact several lines of insurance, according to Dusek. A medical malpractice claim could arise if a doctor failed to properly diagnosis a head injury and allowed an athlete to return to play. A homeowners’ insurance claim could arise as a result of a coach being sued for his or her alleged role in an injury claim.

“Individual coaches may be sued because a lot of coaches will have homeowners’ policies or other umbrella policies that protect them from liability, or protect their exposure to liability, I should say. Doctors who don’t take the necessary steps to make sure a kid doesn’t have a concussion and then it turns out they have a concussion and they play and they get hit again and maybe have a more lasting impact because of that,” said Dusek.

 


Assistant Coach Suits Up for Her HS Team

January 27, 2014

An assistant coach for the DeSoto County High School girls soccer team in Arcadia, Florida, played alongside her athletes in two end-of-the-season matches.

From the Herald-Tribune (HT):

On Jan. 10, in matches against Lemon Bay in Englewood, Bulldogs assistant coach Juany Gonzalez played for both the DeSoto junior varsity and varsity, the regular season finale for both teams.

The district superintendent and high school principal took immediate action, firing both Gonzalez and Desoto girls head coach Narce Hinojos.

And why didn’t the players say anything?

Again, from the HT:

When asked why the players did not immediately report the situation to school officials, Gary said, “The kids were a little afraid to tell on adults doing the wrong thing.

 


SL Interview: Not Your Dad’s “Hoosiers.” Andrew Cohn and Davy Rothbart Look at Indiana HS Hoops

December 10, 2013

la84_SL_121013_MedoraIn November of 2009, New York Times reporter John Branch traveled to the tiny hamlet of Medora, Indiana (population: about 500 people), located about 80 miles south of Indianapolis. Medora is home to the nation’s largest covered bridge, but amidst the shuttered plastic factories and brick plants Branch could find few signs of the Rockwellian idyll of small-town rural life.

“There is little to cheer but for the high school basketball team,” Branch wrote, only to signal yet another death knell: The basketball team “does not win.” The previous season, the Hornets finished 0-22.

Branch, who last year won a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for “Snow Fall,” his multi-media account of skiers killed in an avalanche, depicted a bleak and depleted town, with a high poverty rate and rampant drug use. Medora, he suggested, “could be this generation’s anti-Hoosiers,” a reference to the 1986 film about the real-life Milan High basketball team that won the state championship in the mid-1950s.

Branch’s article served as inspiration, and foil, for filmmakers Andrew Cohn and Davy Rothbart. After reading Branch’s story, they decided that Medora and its high school basketball team deserved a deeper examination. They moved to neighboring Seymour, embedded themselves with the team for six months during the 2010-11 season, and filmed the interaction between the players, their parents, and their coach.

After initial filming Cohn and Rothbart raised over $60,000 on Kickstarter to pay the costs of editing the film. Cohn spent the next year shaping 600 hours of footage into an intimate, moving documentary, with the misadventures of the basketball team serving as a metaphor for the crumbling, yet resilient small town. (The film’s executive producers include actors Stanley Tucci and Steve Buscemi.)

Medora” premiered at the SXSW Film Festival and it has been making the rounds of the festival circuit ever since. “Medora” will air on PBS in the spring of 2014 as part of the Independent Lens documentary series.

Cohn and Rothbart are longtime collaborators; they are Midwesterners by birth — they both grew up in Michigan — and basketball junkies for life. Rothbart is the editor and publisher of Found Magazine  and the author of “My Heart Is an Idiot” and “The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas.” His stories have aired on “This American Life.” Cohn is a screenwriter and documentary filmmaker who is a senior editor of Found Magazine. He is creative director for 21 Balloon Productions.

SportsLetter interviewed Cohn and Rothbart while they were in Indiana to screen the film there. (Rothbart was only available to answer the first question.)

–David Davis

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Is There an App For That, Yet?

November 6, 2013

la84_sl_110613_HLG_DNA_Baby_msnbc_comFor a simple $169 a Boulder, Colorado, company will conduct a DNA test on your young athlete and tell you what sport he or she should play.

Fun schmun! Why have your kids waste time on an activity that they weren’t BORN TO PLAY!

From KDVR.com:

[The test] looks for variants in each of the two ACTN3 genes. The company claims a variant in both copies means a genetic advantage in endurance sports like long distance running.

One variant, they say, means you’re best suited for mixed pattern sports that use strength and endurance like soccer or cycling.

According to the company, no variants means a kid is better suited for sprint, power and strength sports like football or weightlifting.

“It’s a test that’s really used for assessing where an individual might be best suited for a sport,” said Mike Weinstein, founder of Atlas Sports Genetics. “If it turns out that they are say an endurance athlete, then that may be what they are more prone to be good at, and that may be what they want to be going into as a sport.”

Matthew Taylor, a medical geneticist at CU School of Medicine is not so sure:

“If you are looking at it for which sports should I choose? Which one would I be better at? Could I compete at a higher level in this versus that? I think that those data just are not there,” Dr Taylor said.

Nothing much has changed since MSNBC.com’s 2009 report on the same company.  Atlas Sports Genetics still is in business and parents still are using the service … well, there has been a $20 increase on the price of the test:

Like more than 200 other parents to date, Hilary and Aaron Anderson paid $149 to Atlas Sports Genetics — a Boulder, Colo. company — for a sneak peek at their kid’s athletic horizons …

… But the Andersons also understand one more thing about the test: It is drawing fire from scattered coaches, therapists and genetic experts who worry some parents will misuse the data and that the young science will inject even more pressure and politics into childhood games.


Helmet Choice Has No Impact on Concussions

October 29, 2013

la84_SL_102913_brain_injury_ research_instituteDespite claims to the contrary a recent study has determined that the brand of football helmet a youth athlete wears makes little difference when it comes to concussion prevention.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Health experts have some bad news for high school football players: There is no particular type or brand of helmet or mouth guard that will keep you relatively safe from a concussion.

The companies that make helmets and mouth guards often claim that their own products can reduce players’ risk of a sports-related concussion or lessen the impact of a concussion that does occur. These manufacturers cite “laboratory research” that purports to show one brand is safer than others, and a group of researchers wanted to see if they could verify such claims, according to a summary of a presentation they made Monday at a national meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

And after a young athlete suffers a concussion, the decision to return to the classroom is almost as problematic as the decision to return to play.

Again, from the Los Angeles Times:

After a child has a concussion — whether under the Friday-night lights or in a jungle-gym accident — the return-to-play deliberation has gotten plenty of attention. But there’s mounting evidence that returning to the rigors of academic activity too soon also can slow healing and exacerbate symptoms. Yet parents, patients and physicians have gotten scant advice on how to manage a child’s return to learning after a concussion.

For the first time, a new report in the journal Pediatrics systematically addresses that deliberation. The report underscores that, for a child with mild traumatic brain injury, the noise and chaos of school hallways, the eye strain of classroom instruction and the mental calisthenics of homework and tests can tax the brain at a time when its energies are needed for healing.