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Nick Avgerinos
Nick Avgerinos
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Do Aluminum Bats Create an Unnecessary Danger for our Children?

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Last month, the family a New Jersey boy who suffered severe brain damage when struck by a line drive off of an aluminum baseball bat created an uproar of controversy when they sued the maker of the aluminum bat, the store that sold the bat, and Little League Baseball for its endorsement of the bat.

The heart of the matter is a debate over whether or not aluminum bats are inherently more dangerous for children than wooden bats. Advocates for allowing aluminum bats sympathize with children who are injured, but blame an overly litigious society for irrationally choosing to make a simple game into a controversial battleground of placing liability. Leagues choose to use metal bats because they do not break as easily, and thus cost less to replace. Furthermore, aluminum bats can be a better teaching tool as they are easier to use.

According to a 2007 study by Illinois State University, there “was no statistically significant evidence that non-wood bats result in an increased evidence of severity of injury.” However, there is little no question that an aluminum bat allows a player to hit the ball further and harder, which is one of the primary purposes of using an aluminum bat in the first place. Thus, it is more dangerous. The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning about possible dangers created by metal bats as early as 1975, shortly after they became widely used. A 2002 Brown University study confirms that balls hit by aluminum bats have a greater velocity than those by wooden bats.

An inherent danger to baseball is the risk of a child being struck by a batted ball.

However, this risk can and should be minimized. Currently, many leagues restrict the specs of the aluminum bats in order to limit their power. Legislatures in Pennsylvania have considered banning metal bats, have banned their use in high school games in New York City, and in Illinois have considered a ban in any recreational game in which a child under age 13 participates.

The debate over the safety of aluminum bats is not a new one. If a state legislature does not adequately address a perceived problem, the courts can be a reasonable means for change. The court is an appropriate forum to determine the validity of safety claims on each side of the debate. A lawsuit is not frivolous when it is brought on behalf of someone who is wrongly injured.