South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Contributory Negligence Precludes Award to Coach Injured by Players

Appeals court affirmed that a coach of a youth football program could not sue for injuries he suffered when hit from behind by players from other teams playing a game immediately behind the field on which his team was playing. His contributory negligence outweighed any negligence by other parties.

Topic Torts
Key Words

Negligence; Contributory Negligence; Sports; Coaching; Injury; Baseball Rule

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Shain was an assistant coach of the Union Grove Badgers, a youth football team affiliated with Racine Youth Sports, a league of 11 and 12-year-old participants. There were multiple teams playing on fields right next to each other with no separation space. Shain, while watching his team, was hit from behind by players on another team who were involved in a tackle. Shain’s knee was injured. He sued all sports leagues and facilities providers involved for negligence. The district court dismissed the suit. Shain appealed.


Affirmed. Shain’s contributory negligence outweighed any negligence on the part of the other football teams or league in setting up and playing football games on adjacent fields that lacked sidelines. That rule would apply to a participant, coach or spectator. Those watching one game were aware that there was another game being played immediately behind them, so they should be on their guard. Failure to watch out is contributory negligence. The “Baseball Rule” prohibits a spectator or participant who is injured by a fly ball from making a claim against the team because he or she has knowingly exposed himself or herself to the inherent risks.


Shain v. Racine Raiders Football Club, 726 N.W.2d 346 (Ct. App., Wisc., 2006)

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