Select Sports Tempting "legal" Suicide?

Greg FearCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2009

The last couple of months in the sporting world got me to thinking. Are some sports entities run by complete morons? Are the leaders of these sports waiting until it is literally too late to make simple safety changes? Or will it in fact take death to get changes made?

The reason for these questions was because of the Australian Open match between Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic. A match that was competed in what could only be described as inhumane conditions. The air temperature during the match was 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). However the on-court surface temperature was an oven like 61 degrees Celsius (142 Fahrenheit).

During a scheduled stoppage in the match, a visibly strained Djokovic asked the chair umpire if the retractable roof could be closed to make it more comfortable in the arena, and less strenuous on not only him, but Roddick and the fans as well. A request that was vehemently denied. Cut to the fourth set and Djokovic was forced to retire due to obvious heat related issues.

My opinion on that is, what if Djokovic had collapsed and died? What then? Would the tournament continue? Or would it merely be delayed until they could scrape the dead players carcass off the court and get ready for the next match? Then you bring in the legal aspect of the equation. If Djokovic were to have died, given the denied request to have the roof closed, and the insane heat inside the tennis complex, this would create a legal nightmare for the ATP/WTA and the organizers of the Australian Open. The actions of the chair umpire shows at the very least severe negligence. I would venture to guess that you may never see another tennis event in Australia again. The family of Djokovic, could theoretically sue everyone involved in the regulating of the match/tournament for tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars, and likely win. This may very well bankrupt the WTA/ATP and put an end to all professional tennis.

And this sport is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. What about hockey, namely the NHL? What if someone were to die in a fight? Or what if someone were to die from getting hit from behind into the boards breaking their neck? There are a ton of potential legal ramifications just waiting to be unleashed on the NHL should something as catastrophic as a death due to something easily preventable occur. Keep in mind, accidents will happen. Those are things you can't easily prevent. hence why they are called accidents. But, there are no such things as accidental fights. They are always agreed upon ahead of time. Now, I, like most hockey fans, rather enjoy the odd fight. The key is finding way to reduce both the amount of fighting, and at the same time, making it safer to do so. You could make the fighting major a team penalty instead of a player only penalty as it sits right now. This would make more 4 on 4 situations, and should increase scoring. That is until coaches started to force their players not to fight. In terms of safety, you could and should do the obvious thing and make sure that the chin straps are tightly fastened. There really is no need for the straps to be dangling as low as they are. Sure you could always try and ban fighting altogether, but that won't stop it outright. Remember, fighting is banned in football, baseball and basketball, and there are still fights in those sports. They might be few and far between, but they still exist.

I, on behalf of all sports fans, strongly urge the heads of every sports league/entity to look closely at your safety policies and ask yourself, "Can we do more?". If your answer is no, you probably shouldn't have a job. Mind you, you may have all sorts of time to ponder that question, when you are sitting in you new 8 by 6 home.

"That's just my opinion, and I may be wrong..................but I doubt it."