By Amy E. Feldman
(PHILADELPHIA) – Phillies’ pitcher Cole Hamels has already served Major League Baseball’s suspension for admitting he intentially plunked a player. Do athletes face the risk of criminal charges for their roughness?
For better or worse the people who make it to the level of professional sports have a certain competitiveness that makes them top in their field. Any athlete who steps onto the field or the court depending on the sport understands that there are risks involved, beyond the bounds of what you’d expect even in the course of regular play, including some roughhousing. So in the law, there’s a concept of assumption of the risk: you can’t both agree to play the game knowing the risks and then sue or prosecute when those risks come to fruition.
Some roughhousing does rise to the level of a criminal assault, like Marty McSorley’s slashing at Donald Brashear’s head from behind, which is really different than a little chin music by a baseball player, even given that baseball’s code of conduct inexplicably doesn’t have players shake hands at the end of the game.
Maybe if we want to teach our kids that sports is a place to behave like gentlemen, then not beaning another player is good to discuss, but watching their heroes not shake hands is a lesson that is also learned.