Torts and Sports: Legal Liability in Professional and Amateur Athletics

By Raymond L. Yasser | Go to book overview
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c. the Billy Martin-Earl Weaver-type tantrum, in which the umpire has dirt kicked upon him or tobacco juice sprayed in his face;
d. the "spikes-up" slide;
e. the "cheap-shot" in football, where a player is hit either out-of-bounds or after the whistle;
f. the "clean but brutal" hit, where the tackler intends to cripple a vulnerable opponent, à la Jack Tatum-Daryl Stingley;
g. the "low bridge" in basketball, where the perpetrator runs under the airborne opponent;
h. the "gloves off" hockey fight.
6. One point is clear. The sports participant does not enjoy talismanic immunity from tort liability, the comments of Judge Matsch in Hackbart I to the contrary notwithstanding. The obvious goal of any practitioner is to distinguish those cases that have a reasonable chance for success from those that do not. The materials in this chapter are, ultimately, designed to assist the practitioner in drawing that distinction. It does appear, however, that sports activity is one area of human behavior where the participants are indeed insulated from liability for ordinary negligence. Perhaps this is one thing that makes sports a special and unique form of human experience--participants are free to be unreasonable (but not reckless).


"Amusements and Exhibitions: Injuries to Participants in Games, or Amusement or Sports Activities," 4 American Jurisprudence 2d 226, § 98 ( 1962).

"Amusements and Exhibitions: Liability of Participant in Game or Sport," 4 American Jurisprudence 2d 210, § 86 (1962).

"Assault and Battery--Liability for Injuries Received in Athletic Contests," 26 MICHIGAN LAW REVIEW322 ( 1927).

"Assumption of Risk and Vicarious Liability in Personal Injury Actions Brought by Professional Athletes," 1980 DUKE LAW JOURNAL742.

Blumler Candyce, "Liability in Professional Sports: An Alternative to Violence?" 22 ARIZONA LAW REVIEW919 ( 1980).

"The 'Booby' Trap: Does the Violent Nature of Professional Football Vitiate the Doctrine of Due Care in Participant Tort Litigation?: Hackbart v. Cincinnati Bengals, Inc., 435 F. Supp. 352 (D. Colo. 1977)," 10 CONNECTICUT LAW REVIEW365 ( 1978).

"Compensating Injured Professional Athletes: The Mystique of Sport Versus Traditional Tort Principles," 55 NEW YORK UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW971 ( 1980).

"Federal Jurisdiction--Torts--Federal District Court in Diversity Suit May Not Refuse Jurisdiction Over Professional Football Player's Claim for Damages Resulting from Blow Intentionally Inflicted, Hackbart v. Cincinnati Bengals, Inc., 601 F.2d 516 (10 Cir.) cert. denied, 100 S. Ct. 275 (1979),"


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