Combatting the dangers of basketball hoops in Columbia
COLUMBIA – There is a potential danger lurking inside school gymnasiums.
Earlier this month, a Joplin high schooler was killed in a freak accident in an elementary school gym. Police are still investigating the incident but the coroner officially said he was crushed by a basketball goal, as reported by the Joplin Globe.
While it is unclear exactly what happened in this particular incident, it’s no secret that equipment can be dangerous. Fatal malfunctions are rare, but facilities can do regular maintenance to check up on the nuts and bolts.
Columbia Public Schools would not let me interview anyone familiar with the maintenance, but Community Relations Director Michelle Baumstark said in an email statement: “Columbia Public Schools completed a district-wide evaluation of equipment, such as basketball goals, during the summer of 2015 and made necessary repairs, including installation of secondary safety straps where needed. We also make regular safety upgrades as needed.”
Mike Griggs, director of Columbia Parks and Recreation, said basketball goals have about a 20-year lifespan before needing major repairs. The Activity and Recreation Center is about 15 years old, and the basketball hoops are inspected weekly when the backboard is cleaned.
“That’s a perfect time for our staff to do all the inspections. So they’ll go up there and they’ll shake the rim, make sure it’s tight, and if they notice any loose bolts, they’ll tighten them up,” Griggs said. He said rules against dunking and hanging on the rim help to avoid damage.
“We bought these [goals] with those kind of safety precautions in mind. We have them set up where that even if, worst case scenario, the cable snapped, the goals would kind of swing down. They would never swing less than 10 feet high,” Griggs said,
Griggs said it’s equally important for gym-goers to take note of anything that looks unsafe and report it to a staff member.