Baseball, hot dogs and a great summer day. What could be better? Attending a baseball game is a favorite activity for many Chicagoans. Fans enjoy cheering on their favorite team in the stands–but sitting in the stands could put you at risk for a potential injury. We are hearing more stories of fans being hit by bats or baseballs in the stands, and as this becomes more of an issue, we turn to the experts for advice on how to stay safe while attending a ball game.
Mylie Leatherman, ATC, Head Athletic Trainer for the Schaumburg Boomers, runs us through fan safety in the stands.
Various injuries can occur at a baseball game. Leatherman says the most common are impact injuries from getting struck by a bat or baseball. She says fans have also sustained lacerations and punctures from broken bat shards entering the stands. Injuries occurring from being struck by the ball can range from a simple contusion (bruise) to a skull fracture, depending on the speed at which the ball is traveling and where the fan is hit.
When it comes to protecting yourself, Leatherman says, “The most important thing fans need to remember is to always pay attention to what is happening on the field when the game is in play.” If a fan is sitting in a section of the stands that is not protected by safety netting, they always need to be aware of what is going on around them. Leatherman suggests bringing a baseball glove, to have a better chance at catching the ball and not hurting your hand.
“When a bat or ball exits the field and comes into the stands, it is going to occur in mere seconds and the amount of time a fan has to react is limited,” states Leatherman.
It’s important to keep your eye on the game. Try your best to avoid distractions! Leatherman recommends keeping your phone in your pocket when the game is in play. “If you want to check your phone, wait until it is between innings or batters. If a ball is coming toward you, try to keep your eye on the ball, so you can move out of the way, if needed. [If you can’t make it out of the way] at the very least, make sure your head is covered with your arms. It is also important for fans to never put their fingers or hands through the safety net while the game is in play, especially if they are right behind home plate,” she says.
Leatherman adds, “It could be very hard for fans to stay alert in these environments, as there are so many different distractions during games. [The Schaumburg Boomers] also make announcements throughout the game, reminding fans to always stay alert while the game is in play.”
Stadiums take their own safety measures as well. All MLB ballparks and most other professional ballparks have safety netting that extends to the ends of both dugouts. Some are considering extending the netting all the way to the foul poles to improve safety for fans. In the case of an injury, the Boomers always have two Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) on-site strictly for fan safety. Their ushers also look into the crowd to identify any fan that may have been injured and will alert the EMTs.
Anything is possible when you go to a public sporting event. Be aware and attentive at the game to help avoid injury.
Mylie Leatherman, ATC, joined the Schaumburg Boomers in 2017 and is in her third season with them as Head Athletic Trainer. Leatherman recently completed a post-graduate Athletic Training Internship at Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, where she assisted with the NFL Pro Bowl week, Varsity cheer and dance competitions, and Disney Spring Training. She received her Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from the University of Tulsa (Oklahoma) in December of 2016. While attending TU, she worked with multiple sports teams, including University of Tulsa Football and Oral Roberts University Baseball.
Kelsey Koziel is a Marketing and Public Relations Specialist at Illinois Bone & Joint Institute.
Editor’s note: Illinois Bone & Joint Institute is a corporate partner of the Schaumburg Boomers.