Are Fans Really Safe at MLB Games?


Gary Jarrett

This image contains a photo of SunTrust Park. It is home to the MLB team, the Atlanta Braves, in Atlanta, Georgia (Photo courtesy of Gary Jarrett).

When going to any sort of sporting event, fans only plan for a good time. No one expects to get injured, let alone to the point of being rushed to the hospital. Throughout the recent MLB seasons, safety concerns have increased as more and more people have been getting hurt. There has been a lot of debate as to whether fans should be aware of risks at the game or if the MLB should be legally held responsible for such injuries. 

“I think it depends on each case of the injury and the background of it, but no I don’t think the MLB should be held responsible. When someone buys a ticket, they accept the risks of the game,” said senior Connor Beaule.

There is a commonly understood assumption at all MLB games: there are potential risks. Many individuals claim that fans should be aware of these risks and plan accordingly; others are on the opposite end of the spectrum and blame the MLB. The league already does a lot in efforts to warn fans of the potential risk by placing disclaimers on the backsides of purchased tickets. As a result of these disclaimers, many of those injured do not pursue any sort of compensation or legal action against the MLB. 

“The fans know the risk of getting hit with a line drive or a foul ball. They should not blame the MLB just because they got hit with a ball if they know the risk,” said senior Alex Ross.

Although there is an accepted risk, many people who do get injured can receive some type of compensation through an agreement with the owner of the stadium that they are at. The owners are held responsible to take as many safety measures as they can to control within their stadium. Along with the owner, the team themselves can be held legally responsible for the injury in some cases. They are responsible for keeping the netting secure from breaking loose or having a hole as it is required by law as a safety precaution. Because of this precaution, some have considered extending the netting around the entire field instead of just having it up to the inward ends between the two dugouts. 

“It is a good idea for the net extension, safety-wise. As for a fan to try and be able to get a ball, it isn’t as good of an idea. It will take away some of the excitement of going to a game for those trying to catch a ball,” said youth baseball coach David Cianfarano.

The MLB has recently made the decision to begin extending the netting all the way down to the foul poles. This will improve safety at the fields. However, many of the teams are not putting this into effect until the end of the 2019 season. Although it will be beneficial to all who attend the games, it may take away from some of the excitement for them. Many young fans, and possibly older fans as well look forward to catching a foul ball in the stands. They bring their gloves and just hope for a line drive to be hit straight to them for a chance to catch the ball as a souvenir or as memorabilia. With the netting being extended, those fans won’t be able to partake in these experiences anymore.

“Now that they are extending the nets all the way down to the foul pole, it’ll make [games] a lot safer. Before, it wasn’t as safe and it was an ‘at your own risk’ situation, but now it will be [safer],” added Cianfarano.

Twenty-five of the teams have recently announced plans to extend netting to attempt to help solve the safety issue. Some of those teams include:

  • Texas Rangers
  • Washington Nationals
  • Chicago White Sox
  • Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Toronto Blue Jays
  • Seattle Mariners
  • Houston Astro

“[They] are the most vulnerable group of fans since they have less time to react to a line drive. They’ll be a lot safer when the nets are extended,” added Beaule.