In 2009, USC running back Stafon Johnson was working out at USC facilities trying to get ready for the upcoming NFL draft, when a bar carrying 275 pounds fell on his neck, almost killing him. Johnson subsequently filed suit against USC and the USC strength and conditioning coach. And the personal injury suit settled this week.
Johnson’s lawsuit was one in an increasing number of suits filed as a result of sports injuries where schools, coaches, trainers and others expose athletes to unnecessary risks, in some cases almost guaranteeing serious injury.
As I’ve discussed on this blog, a number of former NFL players have filed suit against the NFL and others for failing to warn of the dangers or to protect them from head injuries.
In Texas, those suits take another predictable form — heat stroke. While many schools do a good job of protecting their athletes, some coaches insist on pressing the limits and schedule summer or pre-season football workouts in the heat of the day. Predictably, that kind of conduct can cause serious heat stroke illnesses or even death. These types of injuries don’t have to happen. University of North Carolina professor Frederick Mueller, who studies these types of injuries, is quick to point out that all of these heat stroke deaths are preventable with proper precautions, and thus, any death is inexcusable.
These types of injuries aren’t limited to football. They can occur in any sport where proper precautions or oversite aren’t offered.
Just remember that the next time you see a sports-related injury, it might be more than an “accident” — it might be a predictable injury caused by someone failing to do their job.