Soccer Goals Pose Unexpected Risk

Soccer is a great sport for kids of all ages and more than 14 million play organized soccer in America. But there is a serious safety hazard on the field that could be putting your kids at risk.

"Early Show" Consumer Correspondent Susan Koeppen shared a warning for families on the broadcast, saying, "The problem is with portable goals there are half a million of them being used today that can weigh up to 400 pounds, and if they aren't secured properly they can tip over."

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Koeppen told the story of 10-year-old Hayden Ellias, a star soccer player from Stephens City, Va.

But during a game one day, while playing goalie, something went terribly wrong.

Mary Ellias, Hayden's mom, explained, "We could see Hayden lying lifeless on the ground with the goal on top of him."

A call to 911 paints the scene:

Mary can be heard on the call saying, "Yes, my son is in a goal down at Millbrook High School and he is down."

The operator replies, "What's wrong with him?"

Mary responds, "A goal has fallen on him."

The operator says, "What fell on him?"

Mary answers, "A goal."

Somehow the goal had tipped over, crushing Hayden. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Ellias told CBS News, "I really, at the time, thought it was a freak accident. I was calling it a freak accident. But it's not a freak accident."

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 34 children have been killed by soccer goal tip overs since 1979. Two hundred children are injured every year.

Kevin Kaye, a certified soccer referee, told Koeppen tipovers can happen in an instant.

He showed her just how easily a goal can tip. Koeppen showed how she can easily push over a goal.

"Wow," Koeppen said. "And I didn't push that very hard at all."

Koeppen explained soccer goals, which are heaviest in the front, can sometimes tip over without warning. In other cases, they tip when kids swing on them. Koeppen shared videos her team found of teens doing just that on YouTube.

To protect players, goals are supposed to be weighted down with sand bags or held down with stakes.

Koeppen asked Kaye, "So the bags are on, it's weighted down, you can actually hang from this and it won't tip over?"

Kaye replied, "That's correct. And if I put weight on the front of this goal, you'll see it's not going to go. It's not going to swing."

Kaye says referees are required to check goals before every game to make sure they're properly secured.

Koeppen asked, "So if you don't see any of these things holding down a goal, what should happen?"

Kaye said, "Either find an option to weight that goal down or no game."

As for Mary Ellias, after her son died in 2007, she started a website called Hayden's Goal to educate parents on how they can keep their kids safe on the field.

Mary said, "I promised Hayden his death would not be in vain. Because nobody else should have horrible memories."

Koeppen added on "The Early Show" Mary has other children who play soccer and her family always brings sandbags with them just in case they encounter unanchored goals.

So should parents check the goals at every game?

Koeppen said, "Absolutely. If they're not staked in or weighted down with sandbags, find another way to anchor the goals. And if you want to see if goals can tip, make sure you do it from behind the goal and there's nobody in front who can be injured."

Koeppen added tipping the goal was easy. She encouraged parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of soccer goals. Additionally, she said portable goals should be taken down when not in use, so kids can't play on them when a game isn't going on and there is no one there to supervise them.

For more information on soccer goal safety, visit anchoredforsafety.org, Hayden's Goal and ontracksport.com.