Risk Management for Fall Sports: Spectators on the Field or Close to the Athletic Event

Education, Property & Casualty, Risk

Autumn marks the start of a new school year, but it’s likely that your district’s athletes have begun their seasons before the first leaves fall from the trees. It’s important to consider the precautions your district should take to protect students, staff, and community members, before fall athletics officially kick off. 

From a risk management standpoint, there are several exposures that your school should address when allowing spectators who are close to the field, court, or athletic event. 

  • The best and safest option is to keep all spectators off the sidelines away from the event to minimize the chance of an accident or injuries. 
  • If spectators are allowed on the sidelines, the best-case scenario is to restrict the spectators to an identified designated area where they would not be allowed to move around, especially up and down the sidelines. 
  • Ensure adequate distance is maintained between the athletic event and the spectator area. It goes without saying that the spectator area should not be close to the sidelines where a spectator or athlete could be injured in a collision. 
  • Restrict the number of spectators allowed on the sidelines at any one time. Small children should never be allowed on the sidelines. 
  • Do not allow the spectators to be mobile or moving (with the possible exception of pre-approved photographers). 
  • Use extra precautions (and distance) if there are any spectators that use crutches or a wheelchair. Besides the obvious injury exposure, athletes could be seriously injured if they were to collide with someone in a wheelchair. 
  • Consider the use of a field pass waiver if spectators are to be allowed on the sidelines of an athletic event. Consult with your school district’s legal counsel before developing your own waiver form. 

Key Takeaways:

Fall sports are an exciting time for your district’s students and staff, as well as the community you serve. However, there are some risk management protocols you should consider putting into place before athletic events begin this season. Reach out to your M3 account executive for risk management consultation regarding your school district’s events – athletic or otherwise.

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