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A Look at the “Competitive Sports Doctrine”

Sports injuries happen during thousands of games played at both the amateur and professional levels. Determining fault and whether or not compensation is due can be difficult on your own. This is especially true in Texas, where the competitive sports doctrine is in place.

How the Doctrine Works

When you willingly participate in a sporting event, you are said to have assumed the risks that come along with that play. In plain English, adults are free to do whatever they like, within the confines of the law, and when the thing they choose to do is dangerous, they cannot blame someone else for hurting them. The competitive sports doctrine applies specifically to sporting events.

Here is an example:

You and a group of friends decide to play tackle football on a Saturday afternoon. An opponent tackles you and you break a bone. If you took that person to court, the judge would likely find that the accident wasn’t unforeseeable and that your opponent is not to blame.

Exceptions to the Doctrine

Just because you choose to play a game, it doesn’t mean that you are involved in a free for all. Any acts considered reckless and dangerous are not protected. Here are a couple of examples:

  1. You and your friends are playing a baseball game. You accidentally tap your friend out a bit too hard at first base. That person decides to retaliate and shove you to the ground. You are injured in the process. This act would typically not be protected under the competitive sports doctrine.
  2. You and your friends are out golfing and the group behind you thinks you are moving too slowly. They decide to play anyway, knowing that you are close. The ball strikes a person in your party, causing severe injury. This act would be considered reckless.

Aside from these two examples, the doctrine does not apply to spectators, sponsors or people participating in activities not related to the game. What the doctrine is meant to cover are the normal, accepted risks of a game.

If you have been hurt in a sports accident in Austin, call our office. We will review the details of your injury and help you determine if the competitive sports doctrine applies. Don’t assume that you are not entitled to compensation. We are here for you. Call now for assistance.

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