Baseball has been one of America’s national pastime since the sport was founded in 1869. The game has helped Americans through some of the best and worst times in recent history. From series playoffs after the 9-11 tragedy to the resumption of play after the COVID-19 shut everything down this past spring, baseball and its star athletes have helped us get through our toughest days.
A big part of the baseball experience is attending live games. Nothing beats the excitement of a day at the ballpark. But many attendees are oblivious to the very real safety risk they take attending a live sporting event. Have you ever noticed this? On the back of every ticket, spelled out in small print, is what’s called the “Baseball Rule.” The rule prevents spectators from blaming or suing stadium owners and operators if they get injured from foul balls during the game, as long as there is properly protected seating. This small blurb on the back of tickets is something most fans overlook, leaving them unaware of the distinct possibility they could be injured.
Jordan Skopp, a lifelong baseball fan and author of a new book on foul ball injuries, has shown that this outdated “rule” is more consequential than some fans might think. The rule was first instated in 1913, before visual distractions, entertainment, and the iconic fan-cam were part of the stadium experience. These distractions, coupled with a fast-moving foul ball, can spell life-threatening disaster. And the probability of being injured is much higher than it ever used to be. This is just one pressing reason for teams to extend their netting in order to continue providing fun entertainment in stadiums, while also being sure that spectators can enjoy their time without worrying about being hit by a foul ball.
As Jordan Skopp points out, fans being hit by foul balls will continue to be a recurring safety issue until Major League and Minor League stadiums extend their safety netting to assure seated fans stay out of harm’s way.
During a press conference last Wednesday, Skopp was joined by Erwin Goldbloom, whose wife was killed by a foul ball incident in Dodger Stadium in 2018. They explained just how impactful a foul ball injury is, and why the failure to improve netting was caused and will continue to cause dramatic incidents.
As highlighted by Skopp, there is no better time than now – before baseball season returns in the spring – to improve all professional ballparks so that they have appropriate netting which will prevent any more serious injuries due to foul balls. With the current break from live spectators in stadiums during games to ensure safety from the coronavirus, this is a prime window to fix the nettings so when fans do return next spring, they can be free of the fear of being injured from a foul ball.
If you feel strongly about this issue, head to Jordan’s sight http://www.foulballsafety.com to read and sign the petition he has there asking the baseball commissioner and Major Leagues Baseball to address this serious issue.