Weight rule makes them LIABLE and Vaulting UNSAFE

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Weight rule makes them LIABLE and Vaulting UNSAFE

Unread postby MasterPVer » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:27 am

I have been pole vaulting for 32 years and coaching most of that time at Universities and High Schools. I was shocked when they put in the weight rule and can't believe so many people lacked the fundamental understanding of the vault to get behind this rule. It is actively harming vaulters, poses unlimited liability, and should be repealed immediately.

While I expect that I'm in the minority, or the rule would never have been passed, I still feel very strongly that this rule is actively harming vaulters and is the root cause driving many kids out of the sport.

1) I always believe that we should put safety first. We should do all that we can to protect our vaulters. In fact, that is my primary complaint against this rule as it actually endangers many more vaulters than it helps.

2) What this rule does, is potentially force kids onto poles that they are not ready to use, and in doing so, create an unsafe situation. For example, if a young HS vaulter can safely vault on a 14'140 pound rated pole, but that day at the meet, he weighs in at 141, and is now forced onto the next bigger pole, possibly a 14'150 but God forbid his school only has a 14'160 or 14'180; now the poor kid has to jump on a pole he isn't ready for at all. If he had to jump on the 14'160, gets inverted, but can't penetrate through enough to safely complete the vault, stalls, and lands in the box and gets hurt, then the governing body, the meet director, and meet officials are all liable as they forced the kid away from a safe situation and forced him into an unsafe situation.

3) Liability in this case is almost unlimited. Everybody who participated in forcing this kid onto a pole he isn't ready for is liable. The rule was the cause driving the kid away from the safe situation and forcing the kid I to an unsafe situation.

4) Driven by the pole manufacturers. The only ones who benefit from this rule are the pole manufacturers, who were behind this rule from the beginning, because now they can go to each school and explain the importance of owning poles in 5-pound increments to keep their kids safe. Give me a break. Greed at its worst.

5) The weight ratings are not reliable anyway. On EVERY pole made is a disclaimer that says that vaulting is dangerous and could result in serious I jury or death even with the best equipment. I challenge ANY pole manufacturer to GUARANTEE a pole won't break provided the person vaulting on it is at or below the maximum weight rating. It will never happen, because manufacturers know that ratings are not precise. In fact, we should IMMEDIATELY suspend the weight rule UNTIL manufacturers guarantee the pole won't break if the athlete is at or below the weight rating. Then we can better protect the kids until we fix this errant rule completely.

6) Doesn't consider grip height. The current rule doesn't consider a vaulter holding a foot below the top potential handgrip and the impact that has to the weight rating & stiffness of the pole.

7) Pole weight rating doesn't consider the height, strength, speed, and ability of the vaulter, just their weight. Should we also propose rules that mandate a height requirement to get rid of all those short vaulters who get hurt or die? Every person who died in the pole vault was shorter than me. Or faster/slower than me. Or weaker/stronger than me.

7.1) Should we prohibit shorter people from vaulting until they grow to a safe height?
7.2) Maybe the kid was TOO fast, and that is why he overshot the pits. Arguably a slower kid would have landed safely in the pits, and it was speed that mad him unsafe. Maybe we should have minimum/maximum speed for vaulters.
7.3) Maybe the kid was too strong, and therefore blew through the pole and a weaker kid wouldn't have, and would have landed in the pits. Maybe we need a strength range kids must stay in so they aren't too strong.
7.4) Maybe the kid was too weak and that is why he couldn't get through the pole and a stronger kid would have made it into the pits safely. Maybe we need a strength range kids must stay in so they aren't too weak.
7.5) hopefully anybody reading is will know immediately how ridiculous these potential rules sound and will realize the weight rule is the same.

8) this rule forces kids onto poles they aren't ready for, causing immense frustration, aggravation, pain, and injury, and drives many vaulters out of the sport, to the detriment of the event. Many of these kids would have otherwise been able to jump safely, given time to mature through the proper progression of poles, and would have stuck with it. To those at would scoff and say those kids don't have the determination to stay in it anyway, do you want a "level of determination" minimum or range required too?

9) Competition pushes vaulters onto stiffer poles, as it should. Vaulters need stiffer poles to jump higher and that is a natural catalyst to move to stronger poles. The rule on weight is an artificial red herring, driven by the pole manufacturers, and nothing else. Watch for one day a new pole maker to emerge, with more generous weight labels - take market share - then have all the other pole manufacturers demanding that brand of poles be banned from competition.

Deja vu - Didn't we already go through that back when the Americans invented the fiberglass pole and he Europeans and Russians were declaring it the unfair American advantage? Here we go again.

10) Ultimately It is the coaches responsibility to keep all their athletes safe. That has always been the case and the coach is the best one who can accurately assess all the myriad of variations of height, weight, speed, strength, agility, skill, ability, concentration, and hand grip to guide the vaulter on to a safe future (until the vaulter them self can do it).

The bottom line is that the rule was never designed for safety, because it creates a far more dangerous situation by forcing kids onto poles they aren't ready for. The real reason the weight rule was created was to sell more poles. It was driven by greed at the expense of the safety of our young vaulters, and we need to realize it.

The weight rule should be appealed immediately.

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rainbowgirl28
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Re: Weight rule makes them LIABLE and Vaulting UNSAFE

Unread postby rainbowgirl28 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:59 pm

I think most PV people agree with you that the weight rating rule is not making the sport any safer.

At the time the rule was implemented, pits were much smaller, and there was a major problem with vaulters shooting off the back of the pits. And girls did not pole vault.

Now, the pits are much bigger. Since the rule change with the pit dimensions, we have not had a single HS athlete (that I am aware of) sustain a catastrophic injury off the back or sides of the pit, and we did have that happen WITH the weight rating rule before the pits were made bigger.

Lawyers like the weight rating rule. It's going to be really hard to get rid of it.

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Re: Weight rule makes them LIABLE and Vaulting UNSAFE

Unread postby MasterPVer » Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:03 pm

I agree that the larger pits help make vaulting safer for all.
I also agree that lawyers CURRENTLY like the weight rule, and will, UNTIL the first lawsuit hits that makes their clients liable BECAUSE of the rule.

The really sad part is, that means someone will get really hurt first. That is an injury at could have been prevented.

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Re: Weight rule makes them LIABLE and Vaulting UNSAFE

Unread postby botakatobi » Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:12 pm

"Deja vu - Didn't we already go through that back when the Americans invented the fiberglass pole and he Europeans and Russians were declaring it the unfair American advantage? Here we go again."

Long before Europeans complained about Americans having an "unfair advantage" pole, the first person to complain was an American.

In 1950, Warmerdam was not happy with the use of both steel and fiberglass poles, and said they would be outlawed by 1951.

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Re: Weight rule makes them LIABLE and Vaulting UNSAFE

Unread postby rainbowgirl28 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:17 pm

MasterPVer wrote:I agree that the larger pits help make vaulting safer for all.
I also agree that lawyers CURRENTLY like the weight rule, and will, UNTIL the first lawsuit hits that makes their clients liable BECAUSE of the rule.


Based on my understanding of sports law and pole vault lawsuits, I don't see that happening. I can't imagine a scenario in which you could prove, in court, that the weight rating rule was the primary cause of a pole vault injury. There are always other factors at play as well.

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Re: Weight rule makes them LIABLE and Vaulting UNSAFE

Unread postby altius » Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:45 pm

Deja vu - Didn't we already go through that back when the Americans invented the fiberglass pole and he Europeans and Russians were declaring it the unfair American advantage? Here we go again.

Without in any way questioning the rest of your argument I do not believe this statement to be true! The one person I know who really was upset about fibreglass poles was Don Bragg who saw his world record beaten by George Davies who was using one and Don really did believe it was unfair. What you may be referring to is the fact that Seagren was prevented from using his new green Catapoles in Munich - in fact this was done because while the manufacturers had promoted the incredible advantage these NEW IMPROVED poles gave an athlete, they were not available to other competitors at that time. They were "hoist on their own petard so to speak"

Jan Jonson was there and he probably knows the full story.
Its what you learn after you know it all that counts. John Wooden

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Re: Weight rule makes them LIABLE and Vaulting UNSAFE

Unread postby pvaulter97 » Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:59 pm

I agree. I am in high school and Ive only seen one kid break a pole. It was because he slipped on his takeoff. He was completely fine however. The majorities of injuries in pole vault in high school are not due to poles breaking but missing the pit or landind wrong. Also why would a kid want to jump on a small pole. In competition the only place where your actually weighed you want to be on as big a pole as possible so you can get as high as you can. This includes the bigger pole weight so you can be thrown up more. The only people who are holding high enough and have the power to break a pole most often arent even on poles close to their weight anyway.

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Re: Weight rule makes them LIABLE and Vaulting UNSAFE

Unread postby david bussabarger » Sun Apr 21, 2013 6:38 pm

Historically, going back to the mid 60's, by which time the use of fiberglass poles was well established, virtually all world class vaulters used roughly equal weight Browning Sky poles. I was a high school vaulter at this time and read in Sports Illustrated that Seagren and Pennel both used 16' 170 poles ( gripping 15' and 14'-8"respectively ) and both weighed 170lbs. In college I was aquainted with Dennis Phillips ( the 8th man over 17' ) who also emphasized that he and other early fiberglass greats used roughly eqaul weight poles. Phillips was still using one in 1972. Suprisingly a number of vaulters acheived push-offs in the 3' to 3'-6" range using equal weight poles. Phillips, for instance, vaulted 17'-1" with a 14'-3" grip and Pennel vaulted a W.R. 17'-61/4" griping 14'-8" in 66. Seagren, Hansen, Vaughn and Sam Kirk also achieved push-offs in excess off 3' using equal weight poles. However there were alot of poles being broken in those days, which pole manufacturers hated.
In 1968 Cata-pole came on the market with a redesigned sailpiece which put more reinforcement in the middle of the pole to help prevent poles from breaking. Cata-Pole also started giving away their poles to any elite vaulter who would take one and as a result quickly took over the pole market. Also at this time George Moore of Cata-Pole started pushing the idea that vaulters should use poles rated above their body weight and because of his influence this idea took off too. So in effect the concept of using "over weight" poles was introduced by a pole manufacturer to reduce pole breakage.
As to the rule preventing the use of "under weight" poles in h.s., I certainly consider it an impediment. It is certainly much easier to learn to bend the pole using an "under weight" pole and this how I learned. It takes time and practice to teach a novice to be agressive on the final stides of the run and to drive inward during the takeoff ( both skills needed even to bend an "equal weight" pole ). Learning the vault is hard enough as it is, why make even more difficult?


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