An expert who installs school basketball backboards says a proper safety system should have prevented a fold-away backboard from crashing into fans during a wrestling tournament Sunday at Weeping Water High School.
“That's a tremendous amount of force,” says Randy Alexander with United Equipment Services in Omaha. “That's like, when it's falling down, being hit by a small car at 30 miles per hour.”
United Equipment Services installs and inspects basketball backboards and other large athletic equipment in schools. He says most fold-away back boards made in the last 15 years have automatic safety straps installed.
“If the cable was to break, the winch was to fail, if anything happened in that system, that safety strap is supposed to stop it with no more than six-inch drop,” Alexander said. “So that can drop no more than six inches before the safety strap engages.”
The manufacturers also recommend annual inspections by a qualified person to make sure everything is working like it should. Alexander says a lot of schools have their own maintenance staff do the inspections instead.
“Sometimes because of budgetary concerns they'll have us come in every other year,” he said. “There are other schools that we've never seen. Or we'll show up and they haven't had anything done in 10 years. Or they've never had anything done at all.”