2018 RIMS

Risk Management Tips for Sports Organizations

Sports risk management faces a different kind of challenge — especially if the team is well-known and successful.
By: | April 13, 2018 • 2 min read
Topics: RIMS | Risk Managers

Want to help your team win off the field as well as on? Then invest in your risk management program, said Monica Rusch, senior director, risk management of the Houston Astros. At a RIMS 2018 presentation on April 18, the 29-year veteran of the baseball organization, along with Tamara D. Bruno, counsel from Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw and Pittman LLP, offered attendees practical and tested tips for mitigating ever present risks.


When teams win big, everyone from the players to the fans to the front office is thrilled. But the bigger the win —  think World Series champs — the bigger the risks, especially to players.

“There is increased player recognition. Everyone wants to be near the players. Everyone wants to get close to them,” Rusch said. “Even the lesser known players become well known. It’s a new risk every time we get to another level.”

The coveted World Series rings are worn with pride by the players and other members of the organization, but these, too, present a new risk, Rusch said. Safety and theft become additional risks.

“Everyone wants to be near the players. Everyone wants to get close to them. Even the lesser known players become well known. It’s a new risk every time we get to another level.” — Monica Rusch, senior director, risk management of the Houston Astros

But your sports organization doesn’t need to be world champs to be exposed to risk. No two games are exactly alike, so risk varies for each game. An organization’s risk mitigation strategic and tactics need to be tailored. Bruno described how a game between a Texas rivalry called for more security, a closer watch on attendance and other strategies to mitigate risk, above and beyond what is needed for a “less emotional” match-up.

The key to being effective is conducting ongoing training and communication effectively. Training can be taught or self-paced through online training. It teaches best practices and documents your organizations’ efforts should an incident occur. And communication involves constant dialogue with all team members — and a lot of listen in addition to providing information.


Also crucial is having written policies, procedures and consequences. These also document your organization’s efforts. Rusch joked that when anyone leaves their keys in their golf cart and walks away, they know to look for the keys in her office — and they know they’ll be directed to re-take their safety training.

Risks are everywhere and good risk managers are always listening, looking and anticipating those risks. From spectators getting hit with foul balls to stadium slip and falls to player collisions, a good risk manager has a plan in mind to prevent and mitigate risks whenever possible and deal with the aftermath when something does happen. &

Mercedes Ott is managing editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

The Profession

Curt Gross

This director of risk management sees cyber, IP and reputation risks as evolving threats, but more formal education may make emerging risk professionals better prepared.
By: | June 1, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

My first non-professional job was working at Burger King in high school. I learned some valuable life lessons there.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

After taking some accounting classes in high school, I originally thought I wanted to be an accountant. After working on a few Widgets Inc. projects in college, I figured out that wasn’t what I really wanted to do. Risk management found me. The rest is history. Looking back, I am pleased with how things worked out.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?


I think we do a nice job on post graduate education. I think the ARM and CPCU designations give credibility to the profession. Plus, formal college risk management degrees are becoming more popular these days. I know The University of Akron just launched a new risk management bachelor’s program in the fall of 2017 within the business school.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

I think we could do a better job with streamlining certificates of insurance or, better yet, evaluating if they are even necessary. It just seems to me that there is a significant amount of time and expense around generating certificates. There has to be a more efficient way.

R&I: What was the best location and year for the RIMS conference and why?

Selfishly, I prefer a destination with a direct flight when possible. RIMS does a nice job of selecting various locations throughout the country. It is a big job to successfully pull off a conference of that size.

Curt Gross, Director of Risk Management, Parker Hannifin Corp.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

Definitely the change in nontraditional property & casualty exposures such as intellectual property and reputational risk. Those exposures existed way back when but in different ways. As computer networks become more and more connected and news travels at a more rapid pace, it just amplifies these types of exposures. Sometimes we have to think like the perpetrator, which can be difficult to do.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

I hate to sound cliché — it’s quite the buzz these days — but I would have to say cyber. It’s such a complex risk involving nontraditional players and motives. Definitely a challenging exposure to get your arms around. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll really know the true exposure until there is more claim development.

R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?


Our captive insurance company. I’ve been fortunate to work for several companies with a captive, each one with a different operating objective. I view a captive as an essential tool for a successful risk management program.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

I can’t point to just one. I have and continue to be lucky to work for really good managers throughout my career. Each one has taken the time and interest to develop me as a professional. I certainly haven’t arrived yet and welcome feedback to continue to try to be the best I can be every day.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

I would like to think I have and continue to bring meaningful value to my company. However, I would have to say my family is my proudest accomplishment.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

Favorite movie is definitely “Good Will Hunting.”

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

Tough question to narrow down. If my wife ran a restaurant, it would be hers. We try to have dinner as a family as much as possible. If I had to pick one restaurant though, I would say Fire Food & Drink in Cleveland, Ohio. Chef Katz is a culinary genius.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

The Grand Canyon. It is just so vast. A close second is Stonehenge.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?


A few, actually. Up until a few years ago, I owned a sport bike (motorcycle). Of course, I wore the proper gear, took a safety course and read a motorcycle safety book. Also, I have taken a few laps in a NASCAR [race car] around Daytona International Speedway at 180 mph. Most recently, trying to ride my daughter’s skateboard.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

The Dalai Lama. A world full of compassion, tolerance and patience and free of discrimination, racism and violence, while perhaps idealistic, sounds like a wonderful place to me.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

I really enjoy the company I work for and my role, because I get the opportunity to work with various functions. For example, while mostly finance, I get to interact with legal, human resources, employee health and safety, to name a few.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

I asked my son. He said, “Risk management and insurance.” (He’s had the benefit of bring-your-kid-to-work day.)

Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]