Otis Bill to Prevent Injuries From Improperly Secured Soccer Goals Passes State Legislature

Assemblyman Steve Otis (D-Rye) is pleased to announce that his bill, A5308-C, mandating important safety guidelines for moveable soccer goals, passed the Legislature and is awaiting the Governor’s consideration.

“With much of the country gripped in the drama of this year’s World Cup competition, it is clear that soccer is an immensely popular sport for Americans to play and to watch,” said Otis. “Thousands of New York youth take to the fields each year to share in the camaraderie and exhilaration of the game. Yet an unexpected but completely avoidable danger confronts those children. That danger is the improperly anchored, portable soccer goal.”

According to the group, Anchored for Safety, http://www.anchoredforsafety.org/, there have been 36 deaths and 56 injuries from improperly secured portable soccer goals in the period from 1979 to 2011. Indeed, in 2002, an eight-year-old girl from Rye Brook suffered a crushed femur when a portable goal was blown over in a gust of wind. Fortunately, after several surgeries and months of painful physical therapy she was able to make a full recovery. Others are not so lucky. In January 2012, a 9-year old boy in North Carolina was killed by an unsecured soccer goal that toppled over onto him during a game. Approximately, one child each year is killed by a toppling soccer goal and emergency rooms report between 120-200 serious injuries annually from soccer goal accidents. Most victims are between the ages of four and eight.

Assemblyman Otis’ bill will help to bring a stop to such terrible tragedies. The legislation requires the NY Department of State (DOS), in consultation with the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, to develop mandatory statewide safety rules for moveable soccer goals. Those standards are to be based upon the existing US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s “Guidelines for Moveable Soccer Goal Safety,” which serve as “best practices” safety guidance but are viewed as optional by many entities running soccer programs.

The costs of complying with the new regulations should be minimal, however, as sandbags, stakes, augers and other easily obtained hardware can be used to secure portable soccer goals. In addition, the bill would establish penalties for persons or entities that fail to properly secure and anchor a soccer goal in accordance with the DOS regulations.

Recalling his daughter’s serious accident, Rye Brook parent John Parisi said, “The surgeon said it was as if a sledgehammer came down on my daughter’s leg with full force. If the soccer goal had hit her head, the accident would not have been survivable. Every coach, school official, town official and parent needs to be vigilant to assure the goals are secured before any child takes the field.”

A5308-C passed the Assembly in March of this year. The Senate version of the bill, S6811, sponsored by Senator George Maziarz (R,C-Newfane), passed the Senate on June 17, 2014. The legislation was co-sponsored by Assembly members Angelo Santabarbara (D-Rotterdam) and Michael Montesano (R,I,C-Glen Head) and in the Senate by Senator George Latimer (D-Rye). Other states, including Virginia, Wisconsin, Illinois and Arkansas have already enacted similar legislation.

“My hope is that by raising awareness and adhering to the state safety guidelines we can eliminate these senseless tragedies,” concluded Otis. “I urge Governor Cuomo to move quickly to enact this important safety measure into law.”