Weird Sports Ideas and Laws

Do you think that the rules of sports should be a model for modern government?

If you think sports are the greatest thing ever and that everyone feels the same way, think again. Throughout history, sports have been viewed in the light of hero status to low brow and sacrilegious. While there are plenty of interesting stories to share on this topic, only a select few are truly weird.

The Sabbath is not for baseball

In today's world, Sunday is usually a day to slow down and take time to play sports. However, according to the New York National Reporter, if you lived in Hempstead, Nassau County you might get incarcerated for playing sports on the Sabbath. In 1902, a boy was arrested for playing baseball in this county and was given a summons by the Justice of the Peace.

Section 265 of the Penal Code at that time stated that, "All shooting, hunting, fishing, playing, horse racing, gaming, or other public sports, exercises or shows, upon the first day of the week, and all noise disturbing the peace of the day, are prohibited." In some states during this time period, the limitations were more lenient and applied only to those over the age of 14.

Why you want to be a friend of Job Hedges

In 1896, the men of Princeton University held a mass meeting where alumni were present. One prominent figure that was there gave a speech where the issue of hooligan fan violence was discussed. This individual's name was Job Hedges and he claimed to know every police magistrate in NYC where some Princeton games were held. He told the alumni in the audience that if they were harassed by the police after a game victory, he would defend them.

However, if they were reacting in anger in a public place because they lost, he would not blame the police if they arrested them. For this reason, when Princeton won the game shortly thereafter, they marched through the streets of NYC with no fear of the police. To remind the police to back off, the Princeton fans were all smugly displaying cards on string around their necks that read, "We are friends of Job Hedges."

Sports as the answer to social justice

If you are interested in Occupy Wall Street, imagine if there was a sports solution being proposed by Ivy League intellectuals with Tea Party values. If this sounds too strange to be true, consider this; in the 1920s, a former Harvard president said the solution to labor unions and the federal government should be the same as the rules of football games.

In other words, conservative Occupy Wall Street commentary has nothing on the strange thoughts of this President Emeritus. In a 1921 article written by the United Garment Workers Union (UGW), a rather odd approach to social justice is proposed. Responding to the current headlines of his time, Dr. Charles Eliot, wrote that the ongoing garment workers strike should be treated like they are playing a football game. Of course, Dr. Eliot serve as president of Harvard for almost 50 years, but made statements toward the end of his life that people today would find laughable.

Concerning the UGW, he felt that going on strike was terrible and considered strike-breakers (that worked instead of strikers) to be heroes. In his analysis, if the workers do not like the decision of the federal government in regards to their "strike of necessities," they should be sent to jail. Dr. Eliot pointed out that this is just like an umpire that makes a decision. After the decision is made, the players gladly follow it and take the penalty without protest. In this case, the umpire is the federal government.

Of course, football is a great game, but we should be thankful that Dr. Eliot's method was ignored. Far from bizarre requests, many of the battles waged by organizations like the UGW were the forerunners of policies the U.S. later adopted like an end to child labor and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).