My club doesn't use plastrons

Discussion in 'Fencing Discussion' started by G.F., Aug 13, 2016.

?

Plastrons an absolute must?

  1. yes, absolutely

    57 vote(s)
    95.0%
  2. no, you'll be alright without them

    3 vote(s)
    5.0%
  1. G.F.

    G.F. Rookie

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    I've recently picked up the sport of fencing and am starting this year as a club officer for my university's fencing club for the first year. Our club provides gear to students, and we have historically bought the cheapest gear possible (not up to me). I'm really worried because the jackets we use are the cheap Absolute cotton ones (I'm not sure they are even 350n) and we DO NOT provide plastrons. Also, nobody else seems to really think we need them. We also use the cheap Chinese rebar absolute blades that have the propensity to break often. I am concerned about the safety of our fencers. Problem is, the old club president is essentially running the show and won't listen to anything I have to say, so for me to even try to sway the club to reallocate our already slim funding to buy plastrons would be a major uphill battle. Is this that big of a problem from a safety perspective? Fencers getting bruised is tolerable. Getting a blade through the jacket isn't.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Inquartata

    Inquartata Podium

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    The prevailing attitude will be "Nothing has ever happened before so don't worry about it".

    My house has never caught fire, either. Insurance is still a good idea. Also smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher.
     
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  3. G.F.

    G.F. Rookie

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    You hit the nail on the head as to the type of attitudes I face with my club leadership. I am very worried about this. But our club president won't approve anything I try to do. I mean anything. I suppose I could at least advise new fencers to purchase their own plastron. However, I think that I may either scare new recruits away by making them think of fencing as extremely dangerous or simply because they don't want to pay for protective equipment.
     
  4. Inquartata

    Inquartata Podium

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    Do you compete? Tell them it will be required ( and checked ) at any sanctioned competition.
     
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  5. G.F.

    G.F. Rookie

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    We do require it but only for sanctioned events (we have a few unsanctioned events). Even so, most fencers don't use a plastron in practice as they will bum one off of our coaches or something else to temporarily meet regulations for tournaments, and most new fencers opt out of paying tournament fees for the most part anyway and just attend practice. I'm most concerned about practice, as we practice three times per week.
     
  6. foodle

    foodle Made the Cut

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    Club drama issues aside, you may not be adhering to the terms of your club's insurance policy if you're not using plastrons. You would have to check your policy to be sure. If you brought this up with the athletics department at your university, the problem would likely get cleared up very quickly. But politically, this may not be the right way to force the issue.
     
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  7. Mac A. Bee

    Mac A. Bee Podium

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    An unintended consequence might be club closure. Often, we're not ADs' (usually ex-footballers) friends, so a safety issue would be the excuse for which he was seeking. Even after my alma mater's president mentioned fencing in her State-of-the-College address, I couldn't get her to talk to the AD about funding.o_O
     
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  8. Allen Evans

    Allen Evans Podium

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    Ignoring a mandated safety measure opens you up to a lot of problems, including liability if someone gets hurt. The consequences in such an instance would extend to the university and probably anyone in direct supervision of the club (which means coaches and officers). Note that I am NOT an attorney, but as a coach, I would have nothing to do with this club because of the exposure I would be facing if someone got hurt.
     
  9. Steve Khinoy

    Steve Khinoy DE Bracket

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    I've personally known three people who were hospitalized with punctured lungs from broken blades. All were practicing, not competing. One was taking a lesson. None were wearing plastrons.
     
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  10. Chauffeur

    Chauffeur DE Bracket

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    You answered your own question at the end of your post.

    Additionally, I'm with Allen. I wouldn't be an officer of this club if blowing off plastrons was the conventional wisdom. It's a piece of required safety gear, (to paraphrase Irvine Welsh) "endy f***in' story."

    Also, I might suggest that you shouldn't be an officer of the club if you're going to let the tail wag the dog like that. Although I guess it's better to learn how to deal with that in this setting than at work later. Although although, being liable for a punctured lung (or worse) is probably not a consequence in most workplaces. So you'll want to minimize that.
     
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  11. Inquartata

    Inquartata Podium

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    OK, so is the problem that you can't get funds used to buy plastrons for your fencers, or that you have them but the fencers won't wear them?

    In my experience the latter problem is very intractable. Unless the "boss" mandates it fencers seem to put comfort over safety, and will answer calls to wear plastrons with "it's too hot" or "it's uncomfortable" and will not do it. Over the years I have managed to persuade ONE fencer to wear hers...and she already owned one, just wasn't using it in practice. If you push it too hard people will get defensive and dig in, because "you can't tell me what to do". Unfortunately you seem to have already reached that point with your club prez, and it soun ds like he's the only one with any influence over the members.
     
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  12. G.F.

    G.F. Rookie

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    Both. I have been offered a small contribution to cover the cost of a dozen or so plastrons by a family member. The next battle will be coming up with club mandates that require use of plastrons even in practice, and convincing people that these rules are important.
     
  13. G.F.

    G.F. Rookie

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    I know there is a definite liability concern. However, feel like it is my responsibility to change things in our club to protect our fencers from being injured. Someone has to change the safety culture in our club, why not me? If someone is injured in our club even after I'm an officer I will still feel responsible for not trying to change our policies.
     
  14. K O'N

    K O'N Podium

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    Then document. Document everything. Call a formal meeting, take minutes. Bring stats on the last N people killed while fencing, all of whom were not wearing underarms. Bring statements from top coaches saying this is irresponsible (easy to get, I think). Bring a "best practices" note from US Fencing (also easy to get, I'd think). Make the officers take a vote on everyone wearing all safety equipment while fencing at practice, make the vote a roll call, not just a silent vote or show of hands, put the vote in the record, and include it in the minutes. Threaten to notify the school and its lawyer if the policy isn't changed.
     
  15. bbower

    bbower DE Bracket

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    BG sells plastrons for $15. They'll last for a long time, even in a college club environment. You only have to buy a couple sizes to fit everyone.

    If cost is really an issue here, then are you guys replacing broken blades, or just duct taping them back together?

    Have a bake sale. I'm not joking ... sell some cookies and cupcakes or something for an afternoon on the student union steps, raise the money, buy them and be done with it.
     
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  16. Purple Fencer

    Purple Fencer Podium

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    And REQUIRE them to be worn.

    U no wear, U no fence....simple.
     
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  17. edew

    edew Podium

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    All my students wore full fencing gear (minus scoring-related gear: lamé, body cords) when taking lessons. First: verisimilitude, second safety, as parts of my lesson include (counter-)attacking them.
     
  18. SJCFU#2

    SJCFU#2 Podium

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    And of course accidents only occur during sanctioned events, never during practice (despite the fact that practice accounts for the overwhelming amount of time spent fencing) :rolleyes:

    Your coaches should be concerned, if only to cover their own a**
     
  19. Gordon L

    Gordon L Made the Cut

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    In the UK, the National Governing Body has published safety guidelines. If something were to go wrong, and an insurance claim needed to be made - by the affiliated club., or member of the club, or a visiting fencer who is also a an affiliated member of the NGB - a key issue would be whether the published safety guidelines were being followed.

    If the club is a university club, using the university's insurance policy for sports clubs, it's also likely the insurer would check to see if the NGB's safety guidelines were being followed, in event of a claim.

    In the UK, the guidelines cover practice and competition, with a higher standard of protective equipment required for competition than club practice.

    I would have preferred to say something more US-focussed, but when I Googled for "USFA fencing safety guidelines", I got "Safety Guidelines - British Fencing" as the first hit. None of the USFA pages returned seemed to be about recommendations for protective gear.

    I looked at the USFA Fencing Rules book, Participant Insurance Claim Form, Insurance coverage document, and the Safe Sport pages. None seem to mention standards for protective gear for training.

    ( http://assets.ngin.com/attachments/document/0042/4327/USA_Fencing_2014-15_Claim_Form.pdf ),
    ( http://assets.ngin.com/attachments/document/0097/1078/2015-2016_USFA_Coverage_Limits_Summary.pdf )
    ( http://www.usfencing.org/safe-sport )
     
  20. atouchortwo

    atouchortwo Made the Cut

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    Just so you know you are not alone: fencing without underarm protector in the beginner's programs in the San Francisco Bay area seems to be rather common. In our club we occasionally get a kid who has a couple of months of fencing experience from another area club. Of about a half dozen transfer kids we had lately, none had seen an underarm protector or wore a chest plate before. We provide chest plates for boys under 10 (we have enough for everybody but boys under 10 have to use them), for all the girls, and underarm protectors for everyone.
     
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