Editor's Desk - March 2008
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Here Comes the Sun…

February may be the shortest month of the year, when it comes to the actual number of days, but it still seems to be the longest. And sitting here in the waning half of the month writing this missive to you readers, I can't help but think fondly of March, which comes "in like a lion" and goes "out like a lamb."

By this point, even those of us who love Chicago's wintry weather are tired of sub-zero wind chills and snow days, and we're longing for a little bit of warm sunshine.

Along with March comes the onslaught of outdoor recreation activities—hiking and bird watching, swinging and sliding at the playground, a little bit of muddy touch football or soccer at the local park. Even baseball season is right around the corner.

While we wait for those warm days, I'd like to invite you to participate in some indoor activities. Specifically, you'll find our annual survey online now, where we collect information to help build our State of the Industry Report, which will be published in June, as well as our new Salary Survey, which will appear as a supplement to the July issue of Recreation Management. Both of these reports aim to help you benchmark yourself—both your facilities and your professional life—against others in the industry.

And to help you get ready for some fun in the sun, we're offering a prize for participants. If you take part in our survey, we'll enter your name in a drawing to win one of three pairs of Maui Jim sunglasses, or one of 25 stadium blankets. Either prize will come in handy as spring gets under way!


Emily Tipping

Feel free to drop us a line. Any feedback is great; establishing an industry forum for the open exchange of ideas is even better. So don't be shy with your thoughts, opinions and questions. Any topic is fair game, and no query is too big or too little.

Life Savers

Your readers may be interested in the latest ruling in Fowler v. Bally Total Fitness.

Gary Fowler was my 46-year-old brother who died of sudden cardiac arrest in November 2005 at a Gaithersburg, Md., Bally Total Fitness location.

In January 2005, the Montgomery County (Md.) Council passed an ordinance requiring AEDs (automatic electronic defibrillators) in fitness centers. Gaithersburg, as a municipality in Montgomery County, was technically exempt. However, none of the Bally clubs in Montgomery County installed AEDs until three days after my brother's death. In his opinion on Bally's motion to dismiss, the judge included very strong language about a fitness center's duty to have AEDs on hand.

The Court found that the waiver and release did not bar a claim for gross negligence, stating, "Plaintiff has more than met her burden of demonstrating gross negligence on the part of Bally in refusing to maintain or deploy an AED at its Gaithersburg, Maryland facility…"

Even where there was no statutory obligation to do so, Judge Egan stated, "This Court cannot discern any logical reason why Bally would not employ AEDs at its Gaithersburg facilities, considering it was already obligated to deploy AEDs throughout the rest of Montgomery County. Such action on the part of Bally smacks of indifference to the welfare of its patrons… There is no denying the fact that Bally knew with 100 percent certainty that dozens of its members would suffer heart attacks and die each year, and instead of pursuing a relatively cheap and easy solution to the problem through the deployment of AEDs at its health facilities, Bally chose to consciously disregard this known risk. That strikes this Court as the very definition of gross negligence."

The complaint, motions and Judge's Egan's ruling are available on www.w-g-law.com/cases.

Cynthia Parker, Houston, Texas

Editor's Note: While not every state, county or municipality requires installation of AEDs in fitness facilities, many do. We canvass this issue on page 19, where you'll also find a link to more information to learn about your own location's rules and regulations.


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