Picture this, parents. Your kid is pitching in a Little League game, and a bigger kid hits a line drive straight at him. Instead of ducking, he gets beaned in the head. So what do you do now?
Research the aluminum bats that were used by your kid's league, then talk to the league about getting them out of there? Talk to your kid about playing something safer, like maybe Wii baseball? Get the kid who hit the ball a hitting coach so he has better aim next time? Push for the league to make sure kids are pitted against kids of their own age and size?
Or sue the pants off the people who made the baseball bat? Ding, ding, ding!
Jake Schutter's parents have filed suit in federal court blaming Easton-Bell Sports, the maker of the bat used in the game, for their son's injuries including lifelong hearing loss. How original!
Hey, I'm not going to pretend metal bats are safe. Scientists have proven that the speed of a ball coming off an aluminum bat is faster than off of a wood bat. That added speed means a more dangerous impact when a ball makes contact with a player -- especially kids whose bodies are still developing. Jake Schutter is an unfortunate example of what can go wrong actually going wrong.
But bat makers don't manufacture the bats to make a ball hit a kid's head. They manufacture them to help people hit home runs. Leagues that allow kids to use the bats, however, are putting dangerous weapons in kids' hands for the sake of giving their teams an edge over the competition. And the Schutters' claim to CBS Chicago that "we wanted to do it so that it doesn’t happen to another kid" rings hollow.
Suing one bat company is going to yank some money out of corporate pockets and put it in the Schutters'. But it isn't going to do diddly when it comes to protecting other kids. What these families need to do is set aside their drive for dollars and go after the real morons here: the people putting dangerous bats in kids' hands.
When the Domalewski family decided to do that back in 2008 in New Jersey (they sued the seller of the bat and the league), it pushed the New Jersey legislature to consider abolishing all metal bat usage in youth games. It didn't succeed, but it was a start. Metal bat bans do happen. North Dakota and New York City have passed them; California debated one this year (they ultimately came up with a call for improved standards).
Suing the metal bat companies isn't going to put them out of business. Forcing leagues to stop buying them will. But that would mean parents have to give up on the money and do some real work.
Image via MelvinSchlubman/Flickr