Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jason Koenig v. North Mason School District

This story got past me last spring, but now that I've heard about it I just have to comment.

From the Seattle Times:

"A Mason County jury ruled Wednesday afternoon that the North Mason School District was not negligent in pitching student Jason Koenig approximately 425 pitches in a 16-day period in 2001.

"In a lawsuit that Koenig's attorney believes was unprecedented in the United States — and one Koenig hopes nudges the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) to re-evaluate its rules — Koenig sued the school district in April 2004 for negligence."

Two things I find notable about this story. First, of course, that we've reached a point where kid athletes are suing adults for putting them in harm's way. Isn't it supposed to be the other way around, that children are safer on a sports field precisely because grownups are running the show?

Second, the reason that the school district was found not negligent - the jury determined that Koenig's high school coach didn't know enough about "the risks of high pitch counts."

Maybe. A follow up story in the Times gives more detail of how the coach used - and allegedly misused - Koenig. It's a cautionary tale for every parent. Even the most informed, grounded, caring coach is, at the end of the day, only a coach, with an agenda that could differ from what's best for your child. It's uncomfortable and sometimes awkward. But don't be afraid to speak up and, if needed, speak up loudly.

(Incidentally, in this case, Koenig's mother, apparently did explicitly tell the coach to take her son out of the game. He was injured 23 pitches later).

This isn't an attack on coaches. I'm not advocating that every high school kid who suffers an avoidable injury hire a lawyer. Maybe stricter rules that rein in the adults will do.

No comments: