Should kids swing aluminum bats?
Considering how many kids play youth baseball or softball, it's surprising that there is a lack of agreement on whether aluminum bats are safe. A New Jersey family announced today that it is filing a lawsuit against the manufacturer of an aluminum bat as well as Little League Baseball and the store that sold the bat after the family's son was injured by a ball hit off an aluminum bat. The boy was 12 when he was struck by a line drive. He survived but suffered brain damage.
Some people say a ball comes off an aluminum bat with more force than off a wooden bat, making aluminum bats unsafe for kids. The issue has gained traction in some city councils and state legislatures. New York City last year banned metal bats from use in high school baseball games. And a bill is before the Illinois state legislature that would make it illegal for any adult to knowingly allow the use of an aluminum bat during a recreational baseball or softball game in which a person under age 13 is a participant.
For its part, the Youth Committee of USA Baseball, of which Little League International is a member, said in a statement last year:
"There is no data to indicate that the few catastrophic injuries to baseball pitchers from metal bats would not have happened if the batter was using a wood bat."
The organization noted that the national Consumer Product Safety Commission also studied the issue in 2002 and concluded there is no evidence that aluminum bats pose a greater safety risk than wooden bats.
Recreational sports give kids opportunities for much-needed exercise as well as a chance to learn sportsmanship, self-discipline, teamwork and many other values. It's tough to stomach when a child is severely injured playing youth sports. But as the blogger lawhawk said Sunday:
"While I have tremendous sympathy for the family, I think the lawsuit will ultimately go nowhere as this will likely come down to a battle of the experts, who can and will show that there's no way to assign blame to the manufacturer or anyone else as the injury could have been sustained as a result of the use of a standard wooden bat."
-- Shari Roan
Photo: Los Angeles Times