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Preparing A Legal Game Plan For Football Coaches

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© April, 2006

by Richard P. Borkowski, Ed. D., C.M.A.A.
Sport And Recreation Safety Consultant, Narberth, Pa.

TODAY�S LITIGIOUS SOCIETY sometimes makes it seem a law degree will soon be a required part of a coach�s education. It�s not that bad, but it�s a good idea to understand what society perceives to be a coach�s legal duties.

Coaches are held to what is called a �standard of care� that will lower the chance of injuries to athletes. Please note that I didn�t write eliminate injuries or ensure the safety of athletes. That�s an impossibility.
Also remember coaches are held to a standard of care, not a standard of practice. A standard of care is eliminating the deep knee-bend duck walk as part of practice. A standard of practice is doing the duck walk because �my coach made us do it.�   

Things to Remember

Coaches are also held to something called the �reasonable prudent profession standard.� This is acting in the manner that those in your profession would act under similar circumstances. It is reasonable, for example, that a football coach examines a player�s helmet. Not checking a helmet is unreasonable.
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