Monday, February 04, 2013

Sports and the Law

Mark Tushnet

I'm sure that others have posted on these items, but on blogs that I may have missed. Both are from the minutes just before and just after the end of the Superbowl.

1. Just after the end, there was a classic "fleeting expletive." It's inconceivable to me that any sensible legal regime would impose liability for its dissemination; the effect of doing so would be to eliminate on-field microphones.

2. On (what turned out to be) San Francisco's final pass attempt, there was something that -- on viewing from multiple angles -- was pretty clearly either defensive holding or defensive pass interference (I'm not big on football technicalities -- but pretty clearly a defensive foul). From some angles the foul might not have been all that clear, and it wasn't called. The announcers initially said something like "Good call," but as the events were replayed from different angles, it was increasingly clear that the foul had occurred. And then the "law and sports" angle came in: The announcer said something like, "Well, it's OK not to call a foul like that at this point in the game" (and, I would add, probably where the pass couldn't have been caught in-bounds if at all -- it was quite high, and, although maybe the receiver could have jumped high enough to catch it, it didn't look to me as if, had he done so, he would have been able to land in-bounds). So, this is how umpires (here, referees) call balls and strikes (here, fouls) -- with sensitivity to the entire context in which the events occur.