Exploring when Criminal Law ought to be applied to Sport
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The aim of this study is to critically evaluate where it is appropriate for the criminal law to intervene in order to regulate conduct between sports participants on the sports field. In more recent years (Gardiner, 2007) a quantifiable concern over this issue has emerged. Criminal prosecutions continue to be infrequent. This raises question over the complex and contested nature of the involvement of the criminal law. I will argue that where ‘illegitimate violence’ occurs there is need for legal intervention in some cases. The position this thesis adopts is that illegitimate violence poses a threat to the moral standard of society and therefore requires with it the need for consequence. A more stringent position is required. The findings reveal that specifically to rugby union, understanding the problematic concept of consent is of considerable influence when determining where and if the criminal law should intervene. The first chapter presents the argument. The second is a review of the literature. This chapter introduces a historical look at sport with insight into the change from amateurism to professionalism as well as the history of the sport law and the nature of sport itself. Following is an account that distinguishes the difference between violence and negligence. Chapter three examines two recent examples of case law involving similar incidents on the sports field. The discussion identifies themes from the case studies, in particular Justice, Punishment and Moral Concern. The next chapter discusses the implications to practitioners, this is followed by suggestions on how to reform the law and a look at the role the media plays and the messages they communicate to viewers. This thesis provides concern over the need to examine the application of criminal law to sports context. Evidence has been provided to show that the current legal framework is inadequate. The identified themes discuss the difficulties faced in finding a consistent approach to a contentious principle. Illegitimate violence on the sports field needs discouraging as much as illegitimate violence elsewhere.
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