Thursday, February 02, 2006

More hockey fights needed

There's no law that specifically exempts athletes from being prosecuted for assaults that occur during competition, so it's theoretically possible that a prosecutor could file charges every time a winger gets cross-checked or sucker punched. However, there's a gentleman's agreement of sorts that exists between professional sports leagues and the authorities: As long as the NHL polices itself, and metes out fines and suspensions to offenders, prosecutors generally leave it alone
Both sides prefer it that way: the NHL because it doesn't want the courts interfering with its business, and prosecutors because guilty verdicts would be few and far between. "Implied consent" is an accepted defense against assault charges, and it's clear that NHL players realize that serious roughhousing is part of their job. Many simple assault cases also depend on the willingness of victims to press charges, and few if any pro hockey players want to carry their on-ice feuds into the courts.

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