It’s been 23 hours since I learned of the demise of Shannon Stone, a 39-year-old firefighter and father who fell to his death while trying to catch a foul ball for his young son. The more I think about it, the madder I get.
I shared my views earlier today during the opening segment of PFT Live. (I got a little upset and animated but I stand by everything I said.) Here’s a summary.
1. The railing over which Shannon Stone fell is too damn low.
2. It’s always the responsibility of the stadium owner and operator to ensure that fans are protected against the risks that reasonably can be foreseen, such as leaning over a railing to catch a ball.
3. The railing over which Shannon Stone fell is too damn low.
4. The fact that beer is sold to the fans makes it even more important that the stadium owner and operator ensure that fans are protected against the risks that reasonably can be foreseen, such as leaning over a railing to catch a ball, possibly after drinking a couple of said beers.
5. The railing over which Shannon Stone fell is too damn low.
Based on the photo of the area at which the incident occurred, it’s obvious that the railing could be made higher. Indeed, the railing is higher at the spot where it coincides with the aisle. Why not make it that high in all other locations? Presumably, because it would make it harder to see from the front row.
Here’s a revolutionary thought. Get rid of the front row.
Other alternatives include building a ledge that would catch anyone who falls over the too-damn-low railing, saving them from a 20-foot fall onto concrete. (Of course, that would cost money, without any potential revenue to justify the expenditure.)
We’ve been at the forefront of the “get rid of the lawyers” movement as it applies to the labor negotiations, but Stone’s death provides a prime example of a situation in which lawyer involvement is critical. Nailing the Rangers (or whoever owns the stadium) will force them to make the stadium safer. And it will force other stadium operators to take note, and to make changes before they have an incident of their own.
Ideally, stadium operators would make those changes without the threat of litigation and the expense that goes along with it. But that’s not how the world works. Profit-driven enterprises don’t respond to moral imperatives; they respond to potential assaults on their profits.
No verdict or settlement will change the fact that Shannon Stone’s eight-year-old son will have to live without a father and with the memory of watching his father fall to his death. But blasting the balance sheets of the folks who failed to make the stadium safer for paying customers like Shannon Stone will help ensure that reasonable steps are taken to allow fans to try to catch baseballs for their children without worrying about, you know, getting killed.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!