By Blake Belden
Capital News Service
RICHMOND – The Virginia House of Delegates on Monday passed the Movable Soccer Goal Safety Act with an amendment so that it wouldn’t take effect unless re-enacted by the General Assembly next year.
The House voted 62-38 in favor of the amended version of Senate Bill 933. The bill would require schools, sports leagues and other organizations to provide education and take other precautions involving movable goals. Also, under the legislation, only tip-resistant soccer goals could be sold, made or distributed in Virginia after July 2014.
The House added an amendment “that the provisions of this act shall not become effective unless re-enacted by the 2014 Session of the General Assembly.”
Another amendment would require the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Division of State Parks to convene a “stakeholder work group” to study the safety concerns associated with moveable soccer goals.
The work group would include representatives of the Virginia Department of Education, the Department of Health, the Virginia Recreation and Park Society, youth and adult soccer associations, referees associations, semi-professional soccer associations, YMCAs and the Virginia Retail Merchants Association.
The group would “review practices in other states including laws, regulations, policies and protocols that promote safety for players, especially youth; and review the current safety practices associated with moveable goals followed by soccer programs sponsored by schools, public parks and recreation programs and private associations in the Commonwealth.”
After completing its research, the work group would submit its findings and recommendations to the governor and the General Assembly by November.
The amendments come as a result of opposition to the bill. Critics said it would impose unnecessary costs on some sports leagues and have many unintended consequences.
Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Winchester, who sponsored the bill, was amenable to the proposed amendments.
“The legislation is not really meant to impose a burden or financial burden on leagues. It is prospective. It applies going forward,” Vogel said.
The bill comes almost six years after a fatal accident involving a boy from Stephens City, a town in Frederick County, which is in Vogel’s Senate district.
On May 7, 2007, Hayden Ellias, 10, was killed during a soccer scrimmage when a soccer goal fell over on top of him. His parents formed a nonprofit group, Hayden’s Goal, to “prevent injuries and deaths caused by the improper handling and use of soccer goals by increasing public knowledge and awareness about their correct setup and use.”
After being amended by the House, SB 933 now returns to the Senate for consideration. It had previously passed the Senate, 33-6, on Jan. 22.