Facilities management is complex with many areas that need to be addressed. The focus lately has been on the prevention of terrorist attacks and response planning, should one of these attacks occur at the facility. While the threat of terrorist attacks is important and should be a part of risk management strategy, this essay will present evidence that the main concern of a Sports Facility Director is liability that arises from the daily operations of the facility.
The safety of the players, staff, and guests is always the main concern of the sports facility manager. In September of 1972, the attacks on the Munich Olympic Games raised public awareness that terrorists might choose to use sporting events as a means to raise awareness of their cause (Bierbauer, 1996). In 1996, the Olympic Park bombing brought terrorism at sporting events into the public awareness (Cnn.com, 1996). The purpose of committing acts of terrorism at sporting events is to create the greatest fear and alarm among the citizens.

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Sporting venues are high profile targets with mass media coverage, which makes them a choice target for terrorist activities. Any place where people gather with media coverage can become a target, including movie theaters and shopping malls. Sporting events are not unique in this attractiveness as a target. Due to the high media coverage of terrorist attacks, they have become a top concern in the eyes of the public. However, the potential for being the victim of a terrorist attack is small, compared to other risks that sports facility directors face, particularly with improved security measures.

The likelihood of an event occurring is considered in risk assessment in addition to the impact, should it actually occur. Media coverage of terrorist events at sporting events increased the public perception that the risk was significant, when in all likelihood, they are more apt to be injured by a slip or fall at the facility or be injured in an accident in the parking lot. While these events are not as high profile as terrorist attacks, they represent the main concern that sports facilities take into consideration.

While no sports facility director wants to have their facility be the victim of a high profile terrorist attack, the everyday liability claims can have the greatest impact on the facility. Damages from liability claims from individuals can have awards in the millions. The terrorist attack might cause the perception of risk to rise in the public, but the effects of single person litigation are a major expense for sports facilities managers. One successful claim can prompt a rash of similar claims at that or at other facilities (Brown, 2008). When one person wins a slip and fall case, the number of reports of slips and falls might increase.

These cases do not always make the headlines, unless the settlement is large, but liability claims are a normal part of operating a sports facility. Facilities managers need to identify as many potential risks as possible and take measures to mitigate them. Slips, falls, children injured by hanging on guardrails, balls of pucks that go out of bounds and strike a spectator, and claims arising from food vendors are the most common types of claims made against sports facilities (Brown, 2008). Identifying the most common types of liability is the first step to mitigating them. Fixing the conditions that could lead to potential claims also increases your likelihood that you will prevail, should you be taken to court (Brown, 2008).

Stressing the importance of safety to workers is one of the most important actions that a facilities manager can take to minimize the risk from liability claims. Developing a culture of safety is the most important way to protect the facility from claims. Even if everyone is careful, accidents still happen. The most common type of insurance is liability. This type of insurance covers injury to persons or property (Sports Facility Expert, 2015). It covers liability for advertising and intellectual property, and the event that staff, coaches, parents, or volunteers who are in an accident. Sexual abuse and molestation insurance is also a commonly covered risk (Sports Facility Expert, 2015). Liability insurance will also cover most punitive damages, should you lose a case (Sports Facility Expert, 2015). There is also accident and medical insurance, equipment and property insurance, and fidelity bond insurance to cover the potential of money or assets being stolen (Sports Facility Expert, 2015). Special insurance is available for when teams travel off site. Special event insurance and Worker’s Compensation are other types of insurance that are recommended.

As one can see, there are many different types of insurance available for sports facilities managers. Insurance types offered are based on the types of claims that are seen. While the potential for a terrorist attack is real, the likelihood of being sued for any reason connected to the daily operation of the facility is more likely. Certain types of risks are inherently associated with the type of activity that goes on at the facility. There are dangers from flying balls, players going out of bounds, fights among fans, and persons being burned by hot drinks. There is also potential liability from fans that have heart attacks, particularly if the facility is not properly equipped to handle such emergencies.

The perception that terrorism is the biggest risk that sports facilities managers face is not based on the real claims reported by insurance agencies. Terrorism is a risk, but in prioritizing risk, managers must consider the ones that are most likely to occur. Although they will not be likely to receive media coverage, slips and falls are much more likely than terrorist attacks. Numerous, every day insurance claims are the greater risk to the ability of the facility to remain profitable and to remain in business. Limiting these types of risks should be the main goal of the sports facility.

  • Ammon, R., Southall, R. & Nagel, M. (2010). Sport Facility Management: Organizing Events and Mitigating Risks. Morgantown, West Virginia: Fitness Information Technology.
  • Bierbauer, C. (1996). Munich remembered: 1972 attack led to increased security. Cnn.com. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/US/9607/27/munich.remembered/
  • Brown, N. (2008). Liability Claims Should Serve as Fair Warning to Facilities in Other. CNN.com. (1996, July 27). Sources: arrest in Olympic bombing could occur within days. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/US/9607/27/blast.am/index.html
  • Jurisdictions. Athleticbusiness.com. Retrieved from http://www.athleticbusiness.com/rules- regulations/liability-claims-should-serve-as-fair-warning-to-facilities-in-other-jurisdictions.html
  • McGuiness, P. (2014). Limiting Liability for your sports facility. SportsTurf. Retrieved from http://sturf.lib.msu.edu/article/2014jun26b.pdf
  • Sports Facility Expert. (2015). Guide to Insurance for Sports Facilities. Sportsfacilityexpert. Retrieved from http://www.sportsfacilityexpert.com/2015/08/19/insurance-for-sports- facilities/