Athletics have almost always been associated with contact–combat, muscle to muscle. All the way back to ancient Mayan “basketball”, Greek Olympics, Roman gladiator slaughter, pushing and shoving seems to be a part of our competitive nature that expresses itself in almost every culture. But sports have always had rules; while brutal, certain “man to man”, “female to female” contact have regulations– rules set out to state what is fair and what is not. Athletes typically accept the social norms of injury in sport, and take in mind the consequence of what may happen: a twisted ankle, a cheap shot into the boards, or an offensive rebound gone wrong. But injuries aren’t always forgiven, and sometimes the line is crossed between simply unsportsmanlike and actually illegal or even criminal.A standout amongst the most essential aspects of accomplishment in aggressive physical sport, such as football is the need to break a rival’s will to win. The will to win might be broken with hard hit, a harder hit may break the will to win for a more drawn out minute, the hardest hit may break the will of an entire career. When does unfortunate substantial damage rise above sports to end up indictably criminal? Should civil or criminal law force cutoff points to overcoming an adversary in aggressive play? The aspirations of sport, as idealized by concepts like the Olympic ideal, can be noble and grand, but they cannot be placed above the laws of a land.In high impact sports like hockey and football, concussion injuries can be particularly common. Concussions can be caused by any heavy blow to the head, amongst other causes, and can result in permanent, life-altering changes, since control of almost all bodily functions originate in the brain. Head injuries and trauma are a major concern in professional sports but also even at the recreational level. Concussions can have serious long-term effects, and seemingly routine minor blows to the head can cause permanent brain damage. Injuries as such are typically associated with hockey, football and any other sports the require collisions with other athletes. As told in the American television program, “Outside the Lines,” pro Football Hall of Famers Tony Dorsett and Joe DeLamielleure, and former NFL All-Pro Leonard Marshall have been diagnosed as having signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative condition many scientists say is caused by head trauma and linked to depression and dementia. The three former stars underwent brain scans and clinical evaluations during the past three months at UCLA, as did an unidentified ex-player whose test results are not yet available. Last year, UCLA tested five other former players and diagnosed all five as having signs of CTE, marking the first time doctors found signs of the crippling disease in living former players. CTE is indicated by a buildup of tau, an abnormal protein that strangles brain cells in areas that control memory, emotions and other functions. Autopsies of more than 50 ex-NFL players, including Hall of Famer Mike Webster and perennial All-Pro Junior Seau, who committed suicide in 2016, found such tau concentrations. Researchers told “Outside the Lines” that they notified Dorsett that they had diagnosed him as having signs of the neurological disease. The New York Times issued that in 2013 Senior U.S. District Judge Anita Brody outlined the proposal of $765 million settlement between the NFL and more than 4,500 former players regarding concussion-related lawsuits. The NFL admits negligence to decades of profiting off of athletes who get injured.The Supreme Court of Canada defined negligence as conduct that creates “an objectively unreasonable risk of harm.” This can include intentional and unintentional actions, or even lack of action, such as not shoveling your sidewalk in the winter or not informing athletes of the serious effects of brain damage via contact sports.In Canadian law assault is defined as “The offence of common assault is set out in s.265. It is the most basic of offences of violence.” (Canadian Criminal Law Notebook). Section 265 sets out three ways for the offence to occur. It can be through the intentional non-consensual application of force. It can also be an attempt or threat of non-consensual application of force or lastly the interference with a person while having a weapon.” In many cases of assault, victims pursue legal claims against their attacker or if a mutual fight leads to severe medical consequence. On Canadian ice, athletes have been seen to use sticks as weapons, skates as knives and applying brutal and ruthless force. So why do the laws of the land not apply onto the ice? Society has deemed fighting in hockey as a cultural normality, but those injured in the fight can often disagree and even pursue justice in a court of law.Anyone who sustains an injury in the course of participating in sports should consider meeting with a specialized personal injury law firm to discuss their legal options. The Cassels Brock Sports Law Practice is the leading group of its kind in Canada. They represent a wide cross section of local, national and international clients in the sporting industry including: Professional sports teams, Amateur sports leagues, Professional and amateur athletes, Agents, Coaches, Event promoters, General managers, Sports executives, Sports broadcasters, Olympic game organizers. Another leading factor in determining how sports lawsuits play out is characterizing “unlawful” or “unsportsmanlike conduct: dirting hits, over aggression or angrily motivated contact. In identifying misconduct in Canadian hockey, including contact as well as inappropriate behaviour, “Team officials shall be responsible for their conduct and that of their players at all times. They must endeavour to prevent disorderly conduct before, during or after the game, on or off the ice and any place in the rink. The Referee may assess penalties to any of the above team officials for failure to do so and shall report full details of the incident to the President. A Minor penalty shall be assessed to any player or team official who challenges or disputes the ruling of any official during the game or who displays unsportsmanlike conduct. If a player or goaltender persists, she shall be assessed a Misconduct penalty and any further disputes will results in a Game Misconduct penalty being assessed to the offending player or goaltender. If a team official persists, they shall immediately be assessed a Game Misconduct penalty.” (Official Rule Book – SHHL).”A Misconduct penalty shall be assessed on any player who: Uses obscene, profane, or abusive language or gestures to any person. Persists in disputing or shows disrespect for the ruling of any official Intentionally knocks or shoots the puck out of reach of an official who is retrieving it.” (Official Rule Book – SHHL).In ice hockey, players may seek to inflict grievous bodily harm by “slashing” an opponent with a hockey stick. A good indication that the slash is deliberate is when the slasher has both hands on the stick (signifying control and added strength) and usually attacks an opponent about the head or face or ankle since most of the rest of the body is padded during play. Slashing is a penalty called when an offending player swings his hockey stick at an opposing player, regardless of contact. The penalty may range from a minor penalty to a match penalty, depending on the injury to the opposing player. The National Hockey League provides two modern precedents for successful application of the criminal sanction for acts disrupting competitive sporting play or occurring immediately at the conclusion of legitimate sports play. Vancouver authorities convicted Boston Bruin player Marty McSorley of assault with a weapon for slashing Vancouver’s Donald Brashear in the head with his stick on February 21, 2000. New York Islanders ice hockey player Todd Bertuzzi pleaded guilty to causing bodily harm and missed twenty games for a blind side punch that left Colorado forward Steve Moore with broken bones in his neck on March 8, 2004.Canadian Hockey has a ruthless reputation for fighting. Players typically “throw down” with one another, to settle game tension or to simply give the crowd the excitement. Fighting in itself is majorly dangerous when taking heavy hits to the head, repeatedly. But fights aren’t even the most dangerous aspect of hockey. Recently, Montreal Canadiens’ Philip Danault was struck in the head/neck by a slap shot travelling upwards of 150km/h. Although an accident by Zdeno Chara, player for the Boston Bruins, Danault was carried off the ice quickly on a stretcher. NHL officials and broadcasters are now questioning whether NHL certified hockey helmets provide enough head protection. Virtually all hockey helmets sold in Canada bear 3 stickers indicating third-party testing and certification of the helmet because of the need for manufacturers to meet the mandated standards within 3 jurisdictions. The certification marks include the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certification label which must appear on all helmets sold in Canada that are intended for use in ice hockey; the Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC) certification sticker which is mandatory for hockey helmets in the United States; and the European Union’s required CE marker for hockey helmets intended for sale and use in Europe. The sale of hockey helmets is regulated in Canada by Health Canada under the Hazardous Products Act. CARHA Hockey, however, only permits the use of hockey helmets certified to CSA Standard Z262.1 for all players under its jurisdiction.This was not Chara’s first controversial incident involving hockey injuries. In 2011, the hulking defenceman shoved Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty into a stanchion, breaking a vertebra and ending his season. Chara received a game misconduct but no further suspension from the NHL, and the ensuing uproar in Montreal prompted law enforcement to take a closer look at the case. Montreal police met with various witnesses and concluded their investigation in August of 2011 after meeting with Chara himself. Pacioretty had been critical of the NHL’s non-suspension, but even he had called the police involvement unnecessary. The investigation was delayed because police held off on interviewing Chara during the Bruins’ lengthy championship run. Some legal experts had warned from the get-go that it was difficult to imagine a court convicting Chara. For charges to stick after an on-ice incident, they said prosecutors would have to prove the behaviour in question went far beyond what might be reasonably expected in a hockey game. A stick-swinging incident might meet the criteria, they said, but sidelining someone into a stanchion might not qualify. Many argue any hockey player at such a calibre and experience would know the placement and distance of the stanchion, but in a court of law it would not prove to be enough.