This week, facilities crews with the Chicago White Sox began extending the protective netting to the foul poles at Guaranteed Rate Field. During a May 29 game in Houston, a 4-year-old girl was struck and injured by a line drive off the bat of Cubs center fielder Albert Almora, Jr.
UAB is home to researchers who published the first study that examines spectator injuries at sporting events and are available for interviews.
Injuries are part of the game. That is a common refrain in sports, usually referring to the athletes. Amit Momaya, M.D., a sports medicine orthopaedic surgeon and one of the team physicians for UAB athletics, began thinking about spectator injuries after reading accounts of a young child struck by a foul ball at a professional baseball game. He realized that there was scant information on spectator injuries. A search of the scientific literature revealed that there have been no studies that documented spectator injuries.
Looking back to 2000, the research team tracked 181 spectator injuries, with the vast majority – 123 – coming from automobile or motorcycle racing. Cycling experienced 25 injuries, cricket 12, baseball 10 and hockey eight. The team documented 62 fatal injuries; 38 from vehicle racing, 17 from cycling, four from hockey, two from baseball and a single fatal injury from cricket.
In their research, Momaya and colleagues are calling for a central database for recording the occurrence of injuries to spectators during sporting events. A database would provide the information needed to gauge whether spectator injuries were increasing or decreasing and could provide insight into whether protective measures instituted by sporting organizations were effective.