Spring has finally arrived, and it’s time for one of America’s favorite pastimes to start back up after a long winter. Recent injuries and accidents have forced MLB to take further action to protect fans at the games. Over the last few years, there have been several alarming stories of fans seriously injured by foul balls, broken bats or falling over railings and protective barriers. According to a recent study by Bloomberg, there were an estimated 1,756 injuries sustained at major league ball parks in 2013 alone.
While most fans acknowledge that they are taking a risk attending sporting events, the question is are major league teams doing enough to protect their fans? MLB isn’t responsible for injuries sustained beyond the “Baseball Rule”, or screening the most dangerous areas (behind home plate), and it is up to the individual team to provide a safe environment for fans at their home stadium. However, as of late 2015, MLB has urged teams to extend the safety net behind home plate to both dugouts for fans in lower level seats; and most teams, including the Red Sox, were quick to agree to this added precaution. Despite the added measures MLB is making to keep fans safe, the onus still falls on the fans to stay alert and safe during the games. Here are some important tips to consider when going to a baseball game.
Always Stay Alert
Whether you are behind the protective screens or not, an errant foul ball could be traveling well beyond 100 feet per second, which shortens reaction time even when one is paying full attention to the action on the field. The number of fans who are distracted by smart phones or other technology during games is astounding, especially given the dangers that can occur if you’re not paying attention. Save picture taking and texts for pre- and post- game or between innings.
Consider Who’s Going to the Game
Attending a baseball game with young children can be a memorable family activity, it also means being extra cautious. This goes for the elderly guests as well who may not be able to react as quickly in the event of an errant ball or bat. It may be worth selecting safer seats that are a little farther away for your family.
Do Not Lean Over Rails
Recently, a fan at a Texas Rangers game, who leaned over the rail to catch a ball, fell tragically to his death. If you are in the first row of a level, be aware of the railings and the dangers they can present. No ball regardless of who hit it, is worth you risking your life.
Bring a Glove
Bringing a baseball glove, isn’t just in hopes of bringing home a souvenir, it can help keep you and your family safe should a foul ball be hit your way. Also consider bringing sunglasses should you lose a ball in the sun. A baseball helmet for small children may even be a good idea.
Baseball will always be an American tradition, but understanding the risks and possible dangers will help ensure that there will be nothing but peanuts, Cracker Jack and good memories at your next game.
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