Fan Safety vs The Fan Experience

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At any sporting event, fans want to be as close to the action as possible, and why not? Tickets cost a lot of money, and you want to see the athletes in action from as close as possible. However, at many high level sports games and competitions this can pose a safety issue.

This past weekend, just outside of Paris, France, Le Golf National played host to the 2018 Ryder Cup.  The event pits the best twelve golfers from Europe against the best twelve American golfers every other year.  Thousands of fans turned out to the event to cheer on their fellow countrymen. For many of the spectators, they left with the memory of a lifetime, watching Europe win the competition 17 ½ – 10 ½.

For 49 year old spectator, Corine Remande, the Ryder Cup will be a life changing event for a very different reason.  On Friday morning, she was struck in the face by a Brooks Koepka tee shot and suffered devastating injuries.  According to Daily Mail UK, Remande came away with a broken right eye socket, and her eyeball exploded.  Doctors confirmed with her on Monday that she will never regain sight in her right eye.

“It will definitely be the one shot I regret in my career. [it] was one of the worst days of my life,” said Koepka.

What happened to Remande at the Ryder Cup is tragic and something that nobody who attends as sporting events as a spectator should have to experience.  However, it is unfortunately not rare. Earlier this year, golfer, Kevin Stadler, disappointed with a poor shot and slammed his club onto the ground.  The head of the club broke and struck a nearby fan in the face, causing him to require stitches at a nearby hospital.

An easy solution would be to point at the measures taken by Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League and their recent approach to fan safety.  After several well publicized incidents, most notably one last season involving Todd Frazier who at the time was playing for the New York Yankees. Frazier hit a foul ball into the stands and struck a young girl who was attending the game with her grandparents.  Frazier and other players on the field were moved to tears by the event and called for more protective netting to be placed along the edge of the field.

While there is netting now placed along the edges of baseball fields and hockey rinks, doing so in golf would not be easy or practical.  Golf courses typically only host one tournament per year, and the tournament lasts for four days. The time and money that would go into purchasing and setting up nets to protect fans would not be feasible.  Additionally, golf has far different rules than baseball or hockey. Once a puck or ball leaves the playing surface in the latter two, play stops and the object returns to the playing surface. In golf, one must play the ball where it comes to rest, and a protective net could interfere with many shots.

Remande is planning on suing Ryder Cup organizers for not alerting her soon enough about the incoming golf ball.  Ryder Cup officials have stated that “’fore’ was shouted several times.” Regardless of the result in court, all golf fans hope that this will raise awareness that golf is potentially as dangerous an event to attend as any other, and fans will stay safe in the future.

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Evan is from Watertown, Massachusetts. He transferred into NEC starting in the Spring of 2018. Evan is studying towards being a sportswriter. He writes about baseball and other sports issues. Evan is scheduled to graduate from NEC in Fall of 2019.
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