August 15, 2011

McGarity weighs in

The practicality and safety of motorized scooters for athletes once again became front and center for Georgia Monday, following the news that freshman linebacker Ray Drew suffered a shoulder sprain as the result of an accident on Sunday.

Drew's accident was the second in the past month for a Bulldog football player, following the recent one by defensive end Derrick Lott, who cut his right leg when his scooter hit a service vehicle at the Butts-Mehre Building.

Of course, there's been more. In September of 2009, linebacker Chase Vasser was involved in a scooter-related accident, followed one month later by the tragic accident involving baseball player Chance Veazey, which resulted in the Tifton native being paralyzed from the waist down. In April, pitcher Eric Swegman injured his shoulder in a scooter accident of his own. Former Bulldog linebacker Marcus Dowtin also suffered some scrapes as a result of scooter mishap.

Its incidents like these which have resulted in some calling for the banning of motorized scooters on campus.

However, in a telephone interview Monday with UGASports, Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said he doubts any banning of motorized scooters from campus would ever occur.

"We haven't discussed any banning or anything like that. We'd have to discuss it as a group, but it's one of those things that pop up from time to time and you really see it all over college campuses," McGarity said. "But once you get off-campus, so to speak, and I don't know enough about Ray's situation to comment on it as far as what happened, but I think it's just something you have to stress like everything else - the safety, making sure you're paying attention and with 35,000 students on this campus to really be alert just like you're driving a car. You've got to make sure you're paying attention, not texting and paying attention at all time.

McGarity is no stranger to scooter concerns.

While at Florida, worry about athletes getting injured on scooters was also a popular topic in Gainesville.

"The biggest thing is here they have to wear a helmet. That wasn't the case at Florida and it was a big deal there, but again, like here that was just part of the way that people got around there, driving on campus," he said. "We just have to make sure they are on the right kind of scooter, with the right helmet, with the right certification and along those lines."

McGarity said that he and the rest of the UGA Athletic Association don't take the risk of athletes taking riding scooters lightly.

"I think you always have concern. It is a popular mode of transportation for a lot of students. Some states don't even have a helmet law, but I think with the helmet law and the different standards that are in place, certifications and things along those lines, that safeguards are in place," he said. "But it's like anything else, there are going to be risks associated with driving your car, so I think its part of our society now as far as the way people get around. I know our students have to really be experts at time management with buses and things of that nature getting from Point A to Point B so a scooter is a pretty effective way to get around."

It's also not a unique problem for Georgia and Florida.

At other large campuses throughout the south, motorized scooters have become the means of transportation for student-athletes getting their way around when time can often be at premium.

"I do know for larger campuses - like in Gainesville, almost every student athlete has one. That's the best way to get around because they're living too far away from the facilities to be able to walk there or catch a bus; sometimes it's just not conducive to time management," he said. "The key thing they've got to do is just follow the law. They have to have a helmet, and if it's rated for a motorcycle, they have to have proper certifications, meaning a proper driver's license, which you have to go through a program there.
"But yes, we can make sure we're doing the best job possible and we're probably going to have a bit more focus on that moving forward."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]