There’s a very vague line where sport ends and criminality begins. Of course, if you did this in public, you’d be charged. But then, every tackle of every football game would be considered criminal battery in public society.
I believe the courts hold that by participating in a contact sport, the athletes have accepted some degree of reasonable risk. There have been cases where in-game violence exceeds that reasonable risk (like the Marty McSorley case, as others have described), but it is still not a definate, well-defined line.
Was Haynesworth’s stomp really any different than a cheap shot to the legs that blows out an athlete’s knee? All agree that cheap shots are not a true part of sports, but they happen pretty regularly and yet they are not often prosecuted.
(It would be interesting if anybody could find out how many cases involving an injury that occured on the field of play have gone to court, and how the courts have ruled. I may be incorrect, and it just might be the case that very few athletes have pressed charges when they could have won damages in court.)
The athletic arena is a unique environment where physical violence that is considered criminal in public is a regular occurance. But what, exactly, is the line that seperates “dirty” from “criminal”?
In this case, it appears that Law Enforcement Officers agree with you that Haynesworth’s stomp crossed the line into criminality. That does not mean, however, that this action was a cut-and-dried crime. There is a valid argument that it does not belong in a court room, and should be dealt with solely by the NFL and the Tennessee Titans.
In either case, this action falls in the gray area between athletics and crime. Thus, it “borders on criminal”.
Note that I am mainly playing devil’s advocate with this post and not necessarily claiming that FI is wrong. I just wanted to shed some light on the counter-argument.[/quote]
I very much disagree, with all due respect. While criminal law is not my specialty (I do aerospace contracts), this kind of case does stick out in my head from law school and discussions with colleagues.
Yes, there is a certain amount of accepted risk inherent in sports and it varies by sport. What is acceptable in the context of a golf match is not on par with a boxing match.
However, there is a well-grounded area within the law of situations where an act goes outside the bounds of what is part of the accepted risk of the sport. Chop blocks and such, while dirty, are still a block as part of the game and if you do it, 15 yard penalty (at the very least). There is absolutely ZERO football reason for the removal of the helmet of a prone player and stomping on his exposed face. None. So in that situation, it really does not border on criminal… it is (as Irish said) criminal.
In terms of sheer numbers of these cases? Geez, that would be quite a search on Lexis or Westlaw. You would have to look this up in all 50 states and then look to which way those courts ruled. It would not be a short project… but if you want to pay me $300/hour to do so, I would be delighted to take on this project for you!