Court grants broad exception to athlete liability for in-sport actions

Supreme Court of Utah: “participants in any sport are not liable for injuries caused by their conduct if their conduct was inherent in the sport.”

The court elaborated:

We think it appropriate to establish an exception to tort liability for certain injuries arising out of voluntary participation in sports. But we do not deem it appropriate to require proof that a defendant’s conduct was reckless or intentional. Nor do we think it is necessary to limit the exception to an arbitrary subcategory of “contact” sports. Instead we hold that voluntary participants in a sport cannot be held liable for injuries arising out of any contact that is “inherent” in the sport. Under our rule, participants in voluntary sports activities retain “a duty to use due care not to increase the risks to a participant over and above those inherent in the sport.” But there is no duty to lower or eliminate risks that are inherent in an activity.

Excerpts from last week’s opinion in Nixon v. Clay, which arose out of an injury sustained in a church-league basketball game, and a link to the full opinion are available here.

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Jim Nantz’s Celebrity Hot Tub Party, feat. John Stockton

Many people are familiar with the show James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub Party. Until recently, however, very few knew about the CBS spinoff, Jim Nantz’s Celebrity Hot Tub Party. Here’s a clip from the first episode, featuring members of the 1985 Utah Jazz:

Free Ski Friday Jam

The Deseret News reports:

SALT LAKE CITY — Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke succumbed to injuries Thursday morning that she sustained in a fall Jan. 10 while training in the superpipe at Park City Mountain Resort.

University of Utah officials confirmed in a statement that Burke, 29, passed away at 9:22 a.m. surrounded by her family. As a result of the fall, she suffered a ruptured vertebral artery, one of the four major arteries supplying blood to the brain. The rupture of this artery led to severe bleeding. Emergency personnel performed CPR at the site of the accident, during which time she remained without a pulse or spontaneous breathing, the statement said.

She remained in a coma and on life support from the time she arrived at the hospital. Doctors conducted numerous neurological examinations and tests and revealed that Burke had sustained severe, irreversible damage to her brain due to lack of oxygen and blood after the cardiac arrest, the statement said. In accordance with her wishes, her family donated her organs “to save the lives of others.”

With her death, the world loses a world-class athlete, a tireless advocate for women’s athletics and a kind and generous soul.

Burke fought fiercely for the sport’s inclusion into the Winter Olympics. Last spring her efforts were recognized when the IOC announced ski superpipe would be included in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Burke said it was the fulfillment of a life-long dream.

“In many ways, Sarah defines the sport,” Judge said. “She was one of the first people to get into the pipe and bring skis to the pipe. She’s always been very dedicated in trying to define her sport, and it’s never been about just winning. It’s been about pushing the limits. She’s always been more concerned about making herself the best, rather than comparing herself to other people.”

“I was often the only girl at the comps and competed against the boys for the first few years,” shes writes on the website. “I got my first sponsor when I was 17 (years) old. I had skipped training for Junior Nationals in Whistler and went off skiing in the park. Before I knew it I was traveling and competing all over the world. Ten years later I am still doing what I love and riding for the best companies out there. I have taken countless crashes and broken many bones but I love skiing more and more every year and plan to do it as long as I am enjoying it.”

“I plan to stick around for the 2014 Olympics so don’t be thinkin’ I am going anywhere!” she wrote. “I am really looking forward (to) skiing pow with my friends and pushing my boundaries. I would never have imagined that a girl from little ol’ Midland, Ontario, would be where I am today. So always dream big … you can make it happen.”

You can see a video of one of Burke’s X Games gold medal runs here. More related ski safety news is here.

On the day I learned of Burke’s death, I was in the process of planning my next ski adventure, and all of this had me thinking about what I like to listen to on the way to and on the mountain. Bluegrass for sure. If a heady jam is required, this is a good go-to (contextually legitimated by the appearance of a pedal-steel). I’m all for the celebration-of-life approach, but it feels like something a little more somber may be the order of this day:


(Will you look at that? It’s our boy Bruce. I really did not intend that. The venue also reminded me that I needed to amend my bio here.)

Many times, I associate a song or a group with a particular season. Few bands have a repertoire as extensive as the Dead’s, though, so it probably isn’t surprising that they have solid winter and summer catalogues. In terms of substance and presentation, the above clip clearly draws from both.

Tragic accidents like this are a reminder that athletic pursuits are not a diversion or mere hobby for everyone. In an age in which social reform focuses on the salvation of the minds of our undereducated and underprivileged children, it may be worth remembering that mind and body are connected, and that, for worse or for better, the fate of one is directly tied to the fate of the other.

C-3P-No: Chris Paul, David Stern, the fourth wall, and McCulloch v. Maryland

In a matter of hours last night, the following events occurred, in sequence, beginning around 8:00 Eastern:

  1. The Hornets, Rockets, and Lakers agree to a trade that would send Chris Paul (aka CP3) to Los Angeles, Lamar Odom, Louis Scola, Kevin Martin, and Goran Dragic to New Orleans, and Pau Gasol to Houston. Or something like that.
  2. The NBA and the re-formed players’ association finalize the new collective bargaining agreement, officially ending the lockout.
  3. David Stern, on behalf of the league, nullified the trade for “basketball reasons.”

In trying to understand what happened here, citing “basketball reasons” is pretty unhelpful. I suppose it’s preferable to “bocce ball reasons,” but still. Stern ostensibly was acting on behalf of small-market owners, including Cleveland’s Dan Gilbert, who objected to the deal. What he won’t tell you in this conversation, but everyone else knows, is that the league owns the Hornets. Keep reading…

Rivalries and Penalties

In honor of the general chippiness of the Georgia-Vandy game this weekend and the swings Spartans DE William Gholston took against Wolverine players, resulting in suspensions to players (see here and likely here), but interestingly not coaches (see here or here), the WSJ took a look at the “dirtiest” college football rivalries, based upon the number of behavior-related penalties per game.  Interestingly, Georgia popped up again: number one on the list was the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.  Michigan/Michigan St. wasn’t far behind.

RIVALRY PER GAME BIGGER OFFENDER
Auburn-Georgia 5.4 Georgia 59%
Duke-North Carolina 5.2 N. Carolina 69%
UCLA-Southern California 4.8 UCLA 54%
N. Mexico-N.Mexico St. 4.6 N. Mexico 65%
Kansas-Missouri 4.2 Missouri 76%
Michigan-Michigan St. 4.0 Michigan St 80%
C. Michigan-W. Michigan 3.8 Western 58%
Brigham Young-Utah 3.6 Utah 61%
NC State-North Carolina 3.4 N. Carolina 59%

The Pacific Twelve will not expand, cannot explain why, and will regret and later reverse this decision

As beautifully reported last night, the recently-expanded Pacific Twelve Conference declared it will expand no more. While commodawg recently wrote that I have made some “preposterous suggestions” on this site (a not wholly inaccurate suggestion itself), I am going to register a prediction on this issue. First, though, I have to thank commodawg for discussing and linking to the only sampling of the written word ever to speak of the major Western conference as the “Pacific 12.” That’s on par with “Philip Jackson,” and the only place to go from there is “Pacific Twelve,” so here we are.

Before this year, the Pacific Twelve was the Pac 10. The conference added consistent football juggernauts Colorado and Utah to make a non-baker’s dozen. In reality, the Buffs and Utes are anything but (no matter what Senator Hatch says), which is what makes yesterday’s statement confusing. The flailing Big XII’s national powerhouses, Texas (to my surprise) and Oklahoma, were making comparatively overt, public ovations to the Pacific Twelve, and it was the acts and statements of these schools that triggered the no-expansion announcement. Why they would not want these two programs, though, is beyond me.

I haven’t engaged in the rumor-mongering that’s been flooding the webwaves these past weeks and months, but it’s hard to disagree with the view that we’re going to end up with four sixteen-school superconferences. Once the SEC, Big Ten, and whatever survives out of the ACC and Big East each amass sixteen members, the Pacific Twelve will wish really bad that they’d become the Pacific 14 in 2011 by adding Texas and Oklahoma. In fact, they could have led the way by also taking Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, schools thought to be politically tied to their in-state counterparts, to become the first sixteen-school major conference. Their non-expansionist foreign-conference policy might make Ron Paul happy on some micro level, but in the next round of major conference realignment, the Pacific Twelve will 1) join in the expansion; 2) wish they already had as members these two major programs because there aren’t any better options and those are two excellent options anyway; and 3) solicit their membership if Texas and Oklahoma aren’t already gone to another conference.