Poor Supervision Leads to Devastating Gym Class Basketball Injury


This athletic management case involves an injury to a student, which she sustained during gym class. The plaintiff, a 13-year old female, was engaged in a school gym basketball match. She was playing on a girls’ team against boys larger than her. No instruction, safety measures, or gear (mouth or head guards) was provided and the plaintiff was struck by a hard ball in the face and injured severely.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Was it appropriate to have girls playing against boys?
  • 2. Should the plaintiff have been allowed to play without any safety measures or gear?

Expert Witness Response E-001352

The concept of mismatching sexes is well known and utilized by coaches and instructors. The allowance for this usually involves considerations of age, size, experience level, and other factors to ensure that any mix is played safely. As an adjunct professor and former administrator at a university, I have over thirty years experience as a professor, coach, and coordinator of recreational professions. I have frequently focused on safety and risk management. Also, my experiences coaching and teaching at the grade school level, as well as my certification as a Certified Recreation Administrator by New Jersey, make me very familiar with all relevant standards and rules for recreational safety in the academic environment.

Expert Witness Response E-004737

In gym classes, especially when there are disparities in age, gender, or size, it is reasonable for the kids to be wearing safety equipment (mouth guards, goggles, etc.). It is also commonplace for specific instructions to be given in such a mixed scenario to prevent injuries of this type. I am the owner of a sports consulting firm, and I have extensive experience with recreational accidents caused by faulty equipment, improper supervision, poor facilities, non-adherence to standards, and other cases of negligence. I am also a certified member of the American Board of Forensic Examiners.

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