by Beth Block
Many of us believe in the value of tournament participation for our students.
Tournaments can enhance our students’ competitive spirit. This assists them outside the martial arts world as well as within. It also helps our students learn to both win and lose. Additionally, we learn that challenging work is often rewarded.
So, for all those valuable reasons, we utilize the tournament platform within our studio. It provides all the character development we’ve just mentioned. It has the added advantage of helping with our student attendance and retention, as they work toward their goals in preparing for the tournament.
We spend time informing the students and their parents about the date, venue and rules for the tournament. We devote our time to working with the tournament hosts on planning, coaching and judging at the tournament. We have a lot invested in this event.
Due to unusual circumstances and unforeseen events, the three schools below were financially knocked out during their tournament participation.
This case involved participants and their parents that had to travel one hour from their studio to the tournament site. The studio did not have a commercial auto policy.
Not all the parents were able to bring their children to the event. So, the studio owner and several parents agreed to drive the kids that didn’t have a parent attending. As it turned out, one of the parent-drivers had a fatal accident on the way back from the tournament. The driver and three of the studio’s students were killed. The driver’s auto liability limit was $50,000.
After the accident, it was also discovered that the parent-driver also had a DUI (driving under the influence) arrest several months before the event. Unfortunately, the studio owner didn’t have any insurance protection for this type of situation and the studio was driven out of business.
This case involved a school that participated in a tournament in its home city. It was part of a local group of studio owners that worked together to bring the tournament to life.
One studio was the hosting site. That position included responsibility for making sure there was tournament insurance in place. The case study’s studio owner, however, was unaware his liability insurance didn’t provide coverage for the students’ participation in tournaments.
One of their teenagers competed in sparring, and wasn’t wearing proper headgear. That student received a blow to the head so hard it caused bleeding on the brain! The medical bills topped $500,000. The student’s family didn’t have medical insurance, and the studio owner didn’t have liability insurance specifically for tournaments. The studio, like the one above, was sued and went out of business.
This one involved a school that hosted a tournament for local studios. This owner obtained insurance for the tournament in the school’s name because they were the host. The studio didn’t acquire coverage for “sexual abuse” for this tournament. The additional expense made them decide it wasn’t worth it.
During the tournament, one of the coaches patted a participant on the behind. You see this frequently in American pro sports like football, where it’s considered an old-fashioned expression of coaching support. In many cultures, however, it’s completely over the line, and in others, merely offensive. In this family’s case, they found it completely unacceptable.
The family sued for emotional distress. No one involved had liability protection for this type of incident. Not the host school, nor the studio the student attended, nor the studio of the coach. All three schools are out of business today!
These tales of caution make the lesson crystal clear: Know what your insurance policy provides for tournaments. That means at the event site itself during competition, traveling to and from it, and hosting it.
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