Set Sports Court Rules to Prevent Injuries, Disputes
Sports courts, such as basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts, are a great amenity for your site. But sports courts can also lead to problems. For example, residents may argue with each other over how much time a resident should be allotted on a court, or residents can injure themselves if people leave debris, like bottles and cans, on the courts.
That’s why you should create a set of rules that govern the use of their sports courts. Sports court rules not only prevent injuries but also disputes between residents that may leave you caught in the middle. The last thing you need is to referee a fight between two angry residents over, say, time on a basketball court. We’ve created Model Rules: Tell People What You Expect When They Use Your Site’s Sport Courts. You can let residents know about these rules by posting them at the entrance to your sports courts and distributing them to new residents at move-in time.
What Your Rules Should Say
Your rules, like our Model Rules, should do the following things:
1. Require adult supervision of children. Under fair housing law, you can’t ban children from using your sports courts. But because unsupervised children could get hurt while using sports courts, you can require parents or other adult guardians to supervise their children when they’re using your sports courts.
Our Model Rules say that a parent, guardian, or other adult 18 years of age or older must accompany and supervise all children under the age of 14 when using the sports courts. You may wish to choose a different age cutoff for the supervision requirement [Rule #1]. Your rules must make it clear that your child-supervision requirement is for safety and liability reasons only. As long as your rules are clearly based on a reasonable concern for the safety of children, you won’t be discriminating against children under fair housing law.
2. Say only residents and accompanied guests can use sports courts. Limit the use of your sports courts to residents and their accompanied guests. You don’t want people unassociated with your site overcrowding your courts or endangering your residents. Nor do you want a resident’s guest using the courts unless the resident is there using the court with his guest.
You may also want to limit the number of guests that can use your sports courts at any one time. For example, you don’t want a resident inviting 10 friends over for a “tennis party” and commandeering a court for an entire day. Our Model Rules say that residents can’t have more than two guests at a time using sports courts without prior written approval from management [Rule #2].
3. Require proper attire. To preserve decorum at your sports courts, require residents to wear proper attire when playing. Our Model Rules say that residents must wear T-shirts, shorts, sweat suits, or other appropriate athletic clothes when playing on the sports courts. Our rules also say that shirts must be worn at all times, except on sand volleyball courts. And for the safety of residents, our rules say that sneakers must be worn when playing on tennis or basketball courts [Rule #3].
4. Set hours of operation. It’s a good idea to set reasonable hours for sports court use. This way, residents won’t be disturbed early in the morning or late at night by noise coming from your sports courts. Our Model Rules set the hours of operation. They also say that management has the right to close the sports courts because of wet or icy weather conditions [Rule #4].
5. Set time limits on use. To prevent residents from fighting over time on your sports courts, you need to set some time limits. Your rules should take into account the various sports played on your courts, such as tennis, volleyball, and basketball.
An average tennis game may take an hour to play. Our Model Rules, set a one-hour time limit for a singles tennis game and an hour and 15 minutes for doubles play. You may choose to set no time limit for sports such as volleyball, but your sports court rules could say that players waiting on the sidelines must be rotated into play as soon as possible.
As for basketball, our Model Rules say that basketball games will end when a team scores 11 points if each basket is worth one point or 22 points if each basket is worth two points, and that the winning team stays on the court for the next game. This is a typical way in which play is controlled on public basketball courts [Rule #5].
6. Ban food and drinks. Don’t let residents bring food or drinks onto your sports courts. Food scraps left behind can attract vermin and create an unsightly mess. Broken glass from bottles can cause injury. And spilled liquid can make surfaces slippery, also leading to injury. But you may want to let residents bring water in plastic bottles and allow them to drink it courtside, just so you’re not responsible for anyone’s becoming dehydrated. Our Model Rules prohibit residents from bringing food or drinks onto the sports courts but allow water in plastic bottles to be kept courtside [Rule #6].
7. Ban bad behavior. Our Model Rules ban the use of profane language, as well as shouting, roughhousing, shoving, and fighting on sports courts [Rule #7].
8. Ban skates, skateboards, bicycles, tricycles. The flat surfaces of your sports courts may be attractive to residents who enjoy roller-skating, in-line skating, skateboarding, and bicycle/tricycle riding. But the wheels on these items can damage surfaces. And collisions between residents and others using them on your sports courts are inevitable. Our Model Rules ban the use of roller skates, in-line skates, skateboards, bicycles, and tricycles on the sports courts [Rule #8].
9. Ban pets. Residents may be tempted to bring their pets along while they play. But other residents may get annoyed by the distraction pets cause on sports courts. Pets can also get loose, which means residents may wind up chasing after them and may hurt themselves or someone else. A pet on the loose may even pose a bite threat to residents and others in the area of the sports court. Our Model Rules ban all pets from the courts at all times [Rule #9].
10. Say that court use is at residents’ own risk. It’s important to make it clear to residents that they will be using site’s sports courts at their own risk. In other words, residents should be told that you (management) won’t be responsible if a resident or her guest is injured while using your sports courts. Our Model Rules say that residents use the courts “at their own risk” and that management isn’t responsible for injuries or accidents [Rule #10].
11. Reserve right to bar residents who don’t follow rules. To make your sports court rules even more forceful—and more likely to be obeyed—make sure they say that you can bar residents from using your sports courts if they don’t follow the rules. In our Model Rules, residents are told that any violation of the sports court rules means that they may be prohibited from using the sports courts [Rule #11].
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