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What the Los Angeles Dodgers' court case can teach college football


On Major League Baseball's opening day in 2011, San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow was attacked by two Los Angeles Dodgers fans outside Dodger Stadium and beaten within an inch of his life. In the three painful years that followed, Stow has required constant (and incredibly expensive) medical care and, as such, his family has pursued a lawsuit against his two attackers, the Dodgers and their then-owner, Frank McCourt. Stow, a paramedic at the time and the father of two, will continue to require round-the-clock medical assistance for the rest of his life.

On Wednesday, a California court awarded Stow nearly $18 million, of which the Dodgers must pay nearly $14 million. The Los Angeles Times also notes that the team "is on the hook to shoulder all of his past and future medical expenses and lost earnings." 

Stow's attorney hammered the Dodgers' lack of spending on security, alleging that money that should have otherwise been funneled to security was instead used to fund McCourt's lavish lifestyle. Attorney Thomas Girardi said that the Dodgers spent 62 cents per fan on security. "The Dodgers' own pocket book prevented them from providing proper security," he said. Stow's legal team also said his party had been taunted continuously throughout the game by assailants Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood (who are now serving time for their part in the incident), and Stow was then blinsided in a dimly-lit parking lot, none of which was noticed by security. The team countered by saying security for its 2011 opener was the highest in team history. 

In the end, the court sided with Stow. 

This horrific tragedy should serve, if it hasn't already, for a wake-up call for stadium operations people in college football. The situations aren't identical, as many more college football attendees typical park off of university-controlled areas compared with professional baseball, but few sports are as emotionally-charged, and thus vulnerable to a similar situation, as college football. Security isn't a budget item to be scrimped on. 

Every fan deserves a safe experience inside and outside the stadium, no matter what colors they happen to wear. Not that any stadium operations professionals weren't already working diligently toward that end, but, tragically, Stow will spend the rest of his days as a living reminder of what happens when a team and venue don't hold up their end of the bargain.