Otis Soccer Goal Safety Bill Signed Into Law

Assemblyman Steve Otis (D-Rye) is pleased to announce that his bill (A.5308-C) mandating important safety guidelines for movable soccer goals was signed into law by Governor Cuomo on November 21, 2014.

“Improperly secured soccer goals pose a significant, yet preventable, danger to the thousands of New York children and teens who take to our soccer fields each year,” said the Assemblyman. “By setting compulsory statewide standards for properly anchoring portable soccer goals, this law will save lives and prevent devastating injuries to young athletes.”

Improperly secured portable soccer goals have been responsible for at least 36 deaths and 56 injuries nationwide in the period from 1979 to 2011, according to the watchdog group, Anchored for Safety, www.anchoredforsafety.org. Indeed, other studies put the number of seriously injured children much higher, with emergency rooms reporting between 120-200 serious injuries annually from soccer goal accidents. Most of these victims are between the ages of four and eight. Weighing in at about 400 pounds, portable soccer goals are top-heavy and if not properly anchored can be easily blown over by a gust of wind or toppled by children playing on them. An uneven playing surface can also cause a soccer goal to tip over.

This lurking danger was made all too real for a family in Rye Brook, whose then 8-year old daughter suffered a crushed femur when a portable soccer goal was blown over in 2002. “The surgeon said it was as if a sledgehammer came down on my daughter’s leg with full force,” recalled John Parisi. “If the soccer goal had hit her head, the accident would not have been survivable.” Fortunately, their daughter eventually made a full recovery, but only after enduring several surgeries and months of painful physical therapy.

“I am very grateful to Assemblyman Otis and his team for all of their efforts and, of course, to Governor Cuomo for signing the bill into law,” added Mr. Parisi. “This law will protect children from serious injury and it will save the lives of children.”

The new law requires the NY Department of State, in consultation with the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, to develop mandatory statewide safety rules for movable soccer goals. Those standards will be based upon existing “best practices” guidelines developed by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, which are not compulsory. Assemblyman Otis noted that compliance with these best practices “will not impose significant costs on local municipalities or other entities running youth soccer programs, as sandbags, stakes, augers and otherwise easily accessible and inexpensive hardware can be used to secure portable soccer goals.” The law would also impose penalties for failing to properly secure a portable soccer goal in accordance with the DOS regulations. Other states, including Virginia, Wisconsin, Illinois and Arkansas have already enacted similar legislation.

A5308-C passed the Assembly in March of this year. The Senate version of the bill, S6811, was sponsored by Senator George Maziarz (R,C-Newfane) and 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).

“I want to thank Governor Cuomo for signing this important safety measure into law,” said Otis. “By raising awareness and adhering to state safety standards, it is my hope that we can eliminate these terrible tragedies.”