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07-03-2013, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Mayor Bee View Post
I vehemently disagree; this isn't the end game at all. It's just more "the sky is falling, and we can't fight to defend ourselves against it" hysterics.

Years back, I had to take a sport law class, and a major issue was over the idea of litigation in sports. Essentially: how far is too far? The person teaching the class was both a lawyer and also had previously been extremely high up in a minor baseball league. When the league was young, he'd taken the steps of actually seeking an injunction against MLB, which was granted. Before that, he'd been involved in the OHL in some capacity. So this wasn't exactly some two-bit yahoo who couldn't tell a puck from a train. Anyway, the job was to convince him of:
1) Can the court system claim jurisdiction over something that takes place on the field of play?
2) SHOULD the court system claim jurisdiction over the same?
3) In what circumstances should the courts step in, and in what circumstances should they stay as far away as possible?

Not to pat myself on the back, but I ended up acing this particular assignment with what was described as "extremely convincing" and "the most consistent theoretical standard I've seen yet". I won't go into much in the way of details, but here's what it came down to.

In my humble opinion, the court system can claim jurisdiction over something that takes place on the field of play. The courts SHOULD take such a step only in the following circumstances:
1) When the matter is one of player/spectator interaction. If a fan comes on the field of play, or if a player goes into a spectator area, that's one thing that should at least be investigated if a crime takes place.
2) When something on the field of play takes place that is so egregious that it exceeds what can be reasonably expected as an occupational hazard or an inherent risk. This standard varies from sport to sport; I went into some detail on this. I vaguely remember citing an example of a hockey player getting clocked while driving to the net being part of the game, while a basketball player getting clocked while driving to the basket being beyond a reasonable standard. This is borne out by the fact that the likely outcome of such a play in basketball would be a flagrant foul against the perpetrator, compared to not being a penalty in hockey. There were several other examples of similar disparities between sports.
3) Even in cases where the league would look at assessing supplemental discipline, the courts should stay out unless the action goes well beyond the normal standard of what the leagues themselves would determine worthy of their own investigations. This would fall under something similar to the old pornography doctrine: "I shall not today attempt further to define...;and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it."

Now, stepping back into the realm of sports as we see it, and specifically in the cases of fighting.
1) Baseball forbids fighting at all levels. They have an extremely weird standard, and some would say no real standard, when it comes to bench-clearing brawls.
2) Football forbids fighting at all levels. Throwing a punch, regardless of whether it connects or not, is an automatic 15-yard penalty and an ejection. At the high school level and below, the ejection also carries at least a one-game suspension.
3) Basketball forbids fighting at all levels. Throwing a punch is an automatic suspension, connecting with a punch is a longer suspension.
4) Hockey forbids fighting at all levels. Penalties are a five-minute major at the NHL and various North American professional and junior leagues, plus an ejection in Europe and in lower levels of North America.

Now, how many times in the last 10 years has there been a lawsuit brought up as a result of a fight in any other sport at any level? How many times have police actually gotten involved? How about in the last 20 years? Unless it vastly exceeds what could be reasonably expected, no one bothers taking it beyond the sport hierarchy.

About 15 years ago, there was a lawsuit filed as a result of an incident during a college baseball game. Wichita State pitcher Ben Christensen threw at Evansville hitter Anthony Molina, who was on-deck. Christensen thought that Molina was timing his warmup pitches from the on-deck circle, which is regarded as "a punk move". In order to "correct" Molina, Christensen threw at Molina, who sustained a skull fracture and eye injury as a result of being hit with a ball thrown at him when he was 25' away from being in the field of play. Molina had 20/10 vision in his left eye, which was reduced to 20/400 with a blind spot and no peripheral vision or depth perception.

Throwing at someone on-deck who is timing pitches is considered to be acceptable and necessary to keep hitters honest. It's supposed to send a message. Christensen went well beyond that by throwing a fastball at Molina's face instead of simply lofting a ball in his direction. And THIS didn't even end up in court.

So with this in mind, why on earth does anyone honestly think that the end result is that all fights in hockey, all hits, all penalties, will be assessed by law enforcement and prosecuted?

Who defines what is "reasonably expected" ? The general populace or people familliar with the game ? I can see a lot of people who dont follow hockey would say what happened was not reasonable, but they would like say the same about a lot of the game. I'd say that it is far more resonable to expect a fight in the NHL than in a midget A legue, but which standard is applied ? To hockey as a whole or is it segreated into different catergories ?

Also there is the issue of separating the intent and the ultimate result. I dont think anyone is suprised that snowing the goalie might mean a fight, and as in all things the outcome of this fight are unknown to the combatants at the time. If the kid without the helmet had fallen to the ice and sustained a head injury, is the question going to be " is it reasonable to expect a severe head injury as the result of snowing the goalie?" ( probably not) or is it " is is reasonable to expect a fight after snowing the goalie"
( probably yes). I'm not sure you can evaluate every contingency to evaluate its "reasonableness" in the absence of specific context.

And as for hockey, in my mind it is different from the other sports as it only penalizes fighting and does not forbid it. In cases where it is the least likely to be injurious, I think hockey actually promotes it ( while maintaining the penalty)

sandysan is offline