Impose Age Restrictions Instead Of Extending Netting
In Houston, Albert Almora ripped a line drive foul into the stands. As Almora would say, “As soon as I hit it, the first person I locked eyes on was her.” This meant he watched the whole way as his line drive hit a little four year old girl.
An understandably devastated Almora was crushed and began weeping on the field.
This incident led to calls for more netting at ballparks. For example, Jeff Passan of ESPN called for netting to be extended from foul pole to foul pole. In his article, he played up the scene saying:
Look at the entire scene, ugly and awful and entirely preventable, and then tell me Major League Baseball teams don’t need to extend protective netting from foul pole to foul pole. It’s time. It’s well past time, actually. There is no argument against this, no humane argument at least, not when this keeps happening again and again and again and again and again — and children wind up in the hospital, where the girl was taken following the incident, according to the Astros.
Passan was far from the only person to go to these lengths both in terms of the netting needed and using the incident to prove the point.
Certainly, you could understand the calls. CBS reported Almora hit the ball at least 90 MPH meaning that little girl had about 1.2 seconds to respond. There’s no four year old capable enough of getting out of the way of that ball.
If we’re being honest, it’s unrealistic for a parent to get in the way. If you’ve ever been to a game with a child that young, they’re constantly distracted, and as a result, they’re distracting you. When balls are hit that hard, even one slight distraction means you’re defenseless.
As noted by Andrew Marchand of the NY Post, this danger is the reason why players will sit their children behind netting to ensure they are safe during the games.
Yes, you could argue netting all the way around the stadium protects children. You could also argue the netting is deemed a nuisance to fans for a few reasons including ability to watch a game, catch a foul ball, or get an autograph. Considering how MLB is purportedly concerned about attendance, you could understand why they wouldn’t want to detract from the experience of attending a game.
People want to dismiss the later as being irrelevant when it comes to children’s safety. To an extent, they’re right. No child should be injured because someone wants to catch a fly ball. That said, we need to stop pretending wrapping the ballpark in netting is the only solution.
Let’s face facts for a second. No child should be sitting that close. As noted by everyone, it’s a danger to their health. So, let’s call this what it is – a parenting failure.
A parent needed to understand this was not a safe situation for their child. They needed to get seats literally anywhere else in the ballpark. Considering how much those seats cost, they could afford it. If they didn’t realize how close the seats were, an usher/team would’ve been happy to help them relocate to a safer situation.
This is akin to driving to the park and not having your child in a car seat. Sure, chances are really good you won’t ever need that car seat. Even if you do get into an accident like a fender bender, your child could be fine even without the car seats. Then, there’s that accident where having a car seat or not is the difference between life and death or at least the difference between serious injury and no long term harm.
That situation is why we have car seat laws. It’s the reason why we have a bevy of other laws to protect child from absent minded or even bad parenting. These laws include but are not limited to car seat laws, bicycle helmet laws, and required fencing around pools.
Because of absent minded or bad parenting, we have laws designed to protect children and put them in safer situations. Why isn’t this done at ballparks?
Up until the point there’s netting, there’s should be rules (or laws) which restrict where children can sit. Don’t permit a parent to again bring a child that close to the action. Don’t allow a parent to put a child in jeopardy.
Let the adults assume the risks they choose. If they want to be that close to the action without netting, let them. It’s 2019. They should be well aware of the risks by now, and if they’re not, there’s plenty of ballpark announcements alerting them to the fact. Just don’t let an adult taking what is an extremely reasonable risk for them allow them to potentially put a child in harm’s way.
When purchasing the tickets online, there needs to be a prompt advising of the age restrictions for that seating area. If it can be done if you want to leave just one seat open between the seats you purchase, it can be done for this. If you’re calling or buying the tickets in person, the ticket agent needs to read off the rule.
If someone buys the tickets anyway, the usher needs to serve as the barrier of entry. If the ushers can do it in the later innings of a game stopping people from moving down from the upper levels to the field level, they can do it before the game.
Remember, there’s no good reason why a child NEEDS to sit that close to the action. There are literally tens of thousands of places to watch a game from a ballpark. They can sit in one of those seats.
If you boil it down, this is the best way to accomplish allowing fans to have the unfettered view and access they want with protecting children. At the end of the day, we should allow the adults to take the risks they openly want while protecting children from forgetful or negligent parenting.
Impose an age restriction.