Sports Law: Equipment
Should you need legal advice, contact an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.
Topics This Week:
- Consumer law: Hockey equipment and product recalls
- Golf and Ban on Anchor Putters
- Product Liability for Injuries “Caused” by Baseball Bats
Obviously product liability and the law go hand-in-hand, but what about banning certain types of equipment? Are there antitrust concerns? Are there other legal concerns with athletic equipment? We’ll explore these questions and more in the rest of this post.
As it turns out, we didn’t spend a ton of time with this topic in class. We spent a lot of time on torts and I presume we’ll spend a fair amount of time on anti-trust (certainly we began the class discussing antitrust a big). I think one of the reasons we didn’t spend much time on it in class is because traditionally product liability falls under tort law. There is also consumer law, but much of that is going to require discussions of the FTC and I can see why you wouldn’t want to go into that depth in a survey course.
Another reason we didn’t spend that much time on the subject is because we spent some time talking about the Richie Incognito incident. I don’t want to get too far off the equipment discussion and on to Incognito (unless comments suggest I should did into that situation), but suffice it to say that at this point it is impossible to say what exactly happened. Most, if not all, of the Dolphins players have come out in support of Incognito, but then again, they are biased. Martin, after all, is the one that abandoned the team. I suspect the truth will come out eventually.
I was surprised to learn that aluminum bats are not necessarily more dangerous due to bat speed. In fact, if aluminum bats were given a properly sized sweet spot, they would be safer than wooden bats because they don’t break. They are also more environmentally friendly and cheaper because of the same issue.
That’s not to say that an aluminum couldn’t be unsafe. In fact, a court has found at least one aluminum bat unsafe. That bat was the Louisville Slugger Air Attack 2. The word “attack” in the title, probably didn’t help matters with the jury, but the real issue was how much Louisville Slugger knew about the performance of the bat before releasing it to the market. In fact, the designer of the bat told Louisville Slugger management of the likelihood of safety problems after conducting tests on the bat.
You can imagine safety problems for all sorts of equipment. Balls could be too hard or heavy, causing increased injury in a sport like football (where you often get hit by the ball traveling at ridiculous speeds), footwear could cause injury in any sport, etc. As always, if you want to know more, leave a comment!
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