Thursday, June 16, 2005

Please think, people

Perhaps parenthood makes you more sensitive to safety issues, perhaps not (my brother once told me that he was more likely to take a chance regarding the thickness of the ice when ice fishing before he had kids). Maybe I was only affected so much because I've only been a parent for six months. What I do know is that the willingness of people to sit with young children in remarkably dangerous seats at the Twins game on Tuesday shocked me.

I was sitting in what would have been good seats if they actually faced the pitchers' mound, instead of midfield in the Metrodome's football configuration - we were in the second row, just past the Twins' dugout about 140 feet from home plate down the third baseline. As soon as we walked in I knew we were potentially in trouble from a line drive, and in about the fourth inning my fears were realized - somebody on the Giants was early on a Johan Santana offering, and sent an absolute rocket directly toward us. As soon as it was hit I stood up, screamed, and attempted to ready myself; however, it landed one row behind us - in the chest of a middle aged man. He was a bit shaken up (although he did hang on to the ball, somewhat remarkably). The truly frightening part was that seated two seats to his right, between him and home plate, was a five-year-old girl who had not reacted at all. Had contact been made a millisecond earlier, so the hitter had pulled the ball even more, something absolutely horrific would have occurred.

Perhaps more troubling was what followed. Seated in the first row was a guy who looked to be about (a) 45 and (b) drunk as hell, who had two girls under the age of 10 with him. They were, understandably, not paying close attention; baseball can get boring for adults, much less kids. Did he move them to a safer location? At least warn them to pay attention? Of course not. They continued sitting in that spot, absolutely oblivious to the risk (albeit slim) of catastrophe.

It's of course impossible to eliminate all risk from life; as George Will is fond of pointing out, we could greatly reduce traffic fatalities by outlawing left turns, although no one thinks this would be worth the cost. Eliminating anything that could injure someone would make life as boring as it would be safe. But really, is it too much to think that people should know better than to have little kids, who you know will not pay close attention, and who even if they see the ball coming might not be able to react, sit in the most dangerous seats in a baseball park? Baseball teams issue warnings before games, put waivers of liability on tickets, and have court decisions which protect them from liability in such situations. Unfortunately, I don't think anything will ever change until some young kid gets killed.


At 2:07 PM, Blogger Peter said...

I can't get worked up over foul balls. I am too busy worrying about the drive home with Drunk Dad as well as those stray urchins hanging over the various upper deck railings. Instead of "We like it here," the slogan over the football tunnel should be "No one has died falling off the upper deck here."

Here's an exercise: Before buying a Wolves or Wild program, ask the kid what cause he is supporting. Maybe not cause for calling child protective services, but that should be the first order of business to tell the kid when sending him out, right behind how much they cost and where to keep the money safe.

On the subject of parenting, am I suspicious/a killjoy when I think there is more to the Utah scout rescue thingy? I'm happy that he's alive, but the kid/family has issues. At a minimum, teacher needs to give extra attention to the kid. My spidey sense is tingling. Little Jessica in the well had problems and I didn't even get a vibe on that one.

Finally, the only villain in the Aruba case is the kidnapper. But in the future, the chaperones might want to consider instituting buddy checks throughout the day and bed checks at night. And is there anyone with an IQ above room temperature who believes that there was no underage drinking on the trip?


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