Criminal Law and Sports

Yaboosh

Diabloii.Net Member
Criminal Law and Sports

Let me start off this discussion by pleading ignorance about this topic.

Why is a boxer hitting the other boxer not battery? Linebacker tackling a running back? Hockey players in a fight?

Is there a particular exemption in the law for consensual sports participation? How far does this exemption reach? Could an illegal late hit on a quarterback be considered battery? A punch thrown after the bell in a boxing match?

I posited this in chat a week or two ago, and then this happened.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2609563

This is so clearly battery that I don't know what he is doing free right now. Why is this not a crime? There seems to be significant evidence (multiple camera angles, 25 people within 50 feet of the event, etc...)

Could a player hold another players head and twist, breaking his neck, and get away with it? Piledrive another player into the turf?

Is this a cultural exemption, or is there an actual, legal exemption for players in a sport, and how far does it extend?
 

LonghornRob

Diabloii.Net Member
Yeah I saw that happen, and was PISSED. The reason he won't get charged criminally is because you know that in contact sports violence can and will occur. This one particular event doesn't look so violent when surrounded by all the hitting and tackling that was happening before and after the incident. Gurode is a huge guy and has most likely had injuries worse than the one received today, but from accidental sources instead. The attack, therefore, isn't as shocking to him physically or emotionally as it would be to me or you. Also, if you were to ask him whether or not he'd want to press charges I'm sure he'd say no.

Criminal charges are considered when an injury is placed on someone that is far worse than what would normally be expected to occur within a game. An injury such as a major break in a bone or a life-threatening one, for instance. Something like the Scott Bertuzzi case is a perfect example of this.
 

Yaboosh

Diabloii.Net Member
Ok, so you seem to think that this shouldn't be charged criminally. But you don't seem to have any evidence to that effect aside from your cultural perspective, which isn't really applicable.

I guess this is a rather silly thread to post in the OTF since it is unlikely anybody has a sufficient knowledge of actual criminal procedure to actually answer my question.
 

LonghornRob

Diabloii.Net Member
Yeah it just seems to me that unruly violence is handled by the leagues instead of the police. The police would be hard pressed filing reports for every tackle that every college, high school and pro football player hands out on a weekly basis.
 

PatMaGroin

Diabloii.Net Member
I saw that, that was pretty low. I dont think a fine and a suspension is enough for something like that, which is all he's gonna get.

I'm not sure if there's anything written in the law about this, but most sport contact is consensual, but that sure as hell was not.
 

Yaboosh

Diabloii.Net Member
You can get into a "consensual" fist fight with someone but you are going to jail if a cop comes 'round.
 

Veilside

Diabloii.Net Member
Yaboosh said:
You can get into a "consensual" fist fight with someone but you are going to jail if a cop comes 'round.
So what you're saying is if two people decide to punch one another the police can decide to stick them both in jail even if they aren't causing any harm to anyone else? Seems like a completely retarded idea to me.
 

PFS

Diabloii.Net Member
I can't find a link at the moment, but in the UK there have been cases of people being convicted of assult due to actions on the Rugby pitch.

To a degree the ref and players (in rugby) accept you get a certain amount of Stomping disguised as Raking and that you do get Stomping and punches in the game - and while you could have someone arrested for it not many people choose to go that route, accepting that to an extent it comes with the game, and that it is not too hard to give as good as you get.

However sometimes you get a serious assult taking place and in those instances people can and do end up in court for it. Generally when it also looks premediated and excessive - like pummeling a guy on the floor when the game is miles away.

It's a dangerous enough game as it is without people bringing criminal activity into it - and personally I'm very happy to see people convicted in these cases.


Boxing (and martial arts in general) are very different, as both contestants know that the goal is to inflict physical harm on the other and both are expecting it and prepared for it. The differrence between martial arts and two guys having a consensual fight is that in a martial arts contest you ahve trained and regulated supervisors, and the athletes involved are trained and prepared for what will happen and there is no question of lack of consent. Two guys who agree to have a fight outside a pub - no regulation, lack of balance, both can say the other attacked them and no safety measures.
 

myleftfoot

Diabloii.Net Member
Yaboosh said:
You can get into a "consensual" fist fight with someone but you are going to jail if a cop comes 'round.
That's if it's done in public ... would this be considered a public event considering you've to pay in and film rights etc?

I'm all for leaving it in the sport, if the sports governing body/victim wants to press criminal charges let them. If not, the police should keep their noses out.
 

Stompwampa

Diabloii.Net Member
Yaboosh said:
You can get into a "consensual" fist fight with someone but you are going to jail if a cop comes 'round.

They would be charged with disorderly conduct. Neither man would be able to sue the other for battery, since they both consented.

We talked about this in one of my law classes. What it boils down to is consent.
But participating in a "violent" sport, you consent to the consequences that there may be injuries that result from hits, punches, kicks, etc. Therein also lies a certain amount of leeway for a late hit, or uneccesary roughness. Only when the action taken can in no way be linked to the playing of the game, would a battery suit be even possible. however, I am unsure where the line is on this between battery, and consent to play a sport.
 

PFS

Diabloii.Net Member
Stompwampa said:
But participating in a "violent" sport, you consent to the consequences that there may be injuries that result from hits, punches, kicks, etc. Therein also lies a certain amount of leeway for a late hit, or uneccesary roughness. Only when the action taken can in no way be linked to the playing of the game, would a battery suit be even possible. however, I am unsure where the line is on this between battery, and consent to play a sport.
I think the consent is to the violence you encounter under the rules of the game.

For example - if a boxer stamps on somebodies head after they go down then that is a risk the other person did not consent to. But they did consent to the risk of being punched during each round.

Or in rugby you consent to the risk of raking if you end up on the wrong side of a ruck, but you do not consent to the risk of stamping as that is against the rules. Likewise you consent to the risk of rough contact in rucks, tackles and mauls - palm-offs, tackles, knees and elbows going places, impacts, stepping on people feet - but there is no case where someone can within the rules hit you with a balled fist - there is no good reason why their fist should be balled. This is a another risk you do not consent to - and so it is an assult.
 

Sokar Rostau

Diabloii.Net Member
Do Americans even know what rucks, mauls and scrums are?

Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure there's been a few cases of people suing over damage done in scrums over here. But then, I'd sue too if I had my neck broken.
 

MadMachine

Diabloii.Net Member
Pitboss_2000 said:
Both Todd Bertuzzi and Marty McSorley had charges pressed against them, right?
There was no way Bertuzzi would've faced a jail sentence.

Should've, but never would've.

A suspension and a fine is a slap on the wrist in my opinion.

I think he's facing a civil suit from Moore's family now though.
 

Stompwampa

Diabloii.Net Member
PFS said:
I think the consent is to the violence you encounter under the rules of the game.

For example - if a boxer stamps on somebodies head after they go down then that is a risk the other person did not consent to. But they did consent to the risk of being punched during each round.

Or in rugby you consent to the risk of raking if you end up on the wrong side of a ruck, but you do not consent to the risk of stamping as that is against the rules. Likewise you consent to the risk of rough contact in rucks, tackles and mauls - palm-offs, tackles, knees and elbows going places, impacts, stepping on people feet - but there is no case where someone can within the rules hit you with a balled fist - there is no good reason why their fist should be balled. This is a another risk you do not consent to - and so it is an assult.
I agree there...but there is more leeway in the law when it comes to assault during a sports game...it has to be blatantly obvious that the person intended to cause harm to the other with disregard to thier personal safety and rules to the game.
 

AeroJonesy

Diabloii.Net Member
Good question Yaboosh. I'll e-mail my criminal procedure professor today and see what he says. I'm thinking that the decision not to do anything criminal-wise is based on policy reasons, but that's just my guess. We'll see what the expert has to say.
 

jimmyboy

Diabloii.Net Member
The tort is battery when a Titan stompted on the head of a Cowboys. But Titan will assert a "consent" defense when Cowboy put on pads to play football, a contact sport.

However, Cowboy will argue that he consented to contact normally associated with playing football, and not all forms of contact. And he can support his argument by showing that in the history of football, there is very little record of football players intentionally stomping on each other's head w/o helmet after the whistle. Then toss in a policy reason of safety.

Therefore, the Cowboys owzs the Titans, who are likely to lose both Fisher and Chow in the offseason.

My 2 cents.
 

PatMaGroin

Diabloii.Net Member
jimmyboy said:
Therefore, the Cowboys owzs the Titans, who are likely to lose both Fisher and Chow in the offseason.
It's not that they're gonna lose Fisher, he'll probably be run out of town.
 
Top