It's truly unfortunate, but it is also a stark reality; until someone gets seriously hurt, change is very hard to come by, particularly when it comes to consumer product safety - and even more specifically - when talking about school sports.

It looks like this story, which arose from a teenage baseball pitcher's tragic accident, may have a silver lining, and, relatively speaking, a happy ending.

Just over one year ago, a hitter on the opposing high school's baseball team hit a pitch right "back through the box," or, in other words, directly back at the pitcher. Since the ball was travelling at approximately 130 mph, Gunnar Sandberg had no chance. The ball hit Gunnar in the head, causing a fracture above his right ear. After his brain started to swell, doctors were forced to remove part of his skull, and to put Gunnar into a medically-induced coma in order to allow Gunnar's body to recover.

Although Easton-Bell, a well-known baseball equipment manufacturer had toyed with the idea of a pitcher's helmet for years, they never saw through the development of the product because there were relatively few incidents, and therefore, little demand for the product. Until now.

At a news conference that was held on the anniversary of the incident, March 11, 2011, Gunnar modeled Easton-Bell's prototype pitcher's helmet, which is lightweight, and designed to slip over a standard baseball cap. Gunnar's father Bjorn, who has worked hard to raise awareness of the danger, is hopeful that these safety helmets will become mandatory - both at the Little League and high school levels - and even at the professional level.

While it remains to be seen whether this will catch on, it seems fairly obvious - at least to me - that it should be required.

Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer
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