18 April 2006

structure of infractions

Heidi Harley's recent post links to an old post of hers about the structure of the phrase grand theft auto, a left-headed legal term. Makes me think of the structure of penalty calls in football and hockey, where the referee announces to the crowd, team, and other game officials what the infraction is. Actually, the very first thing I thought of were the ice hockey infractions "obstruction-hooking", "obstruction-interference", and "obstruction-holding the stick". Each of these is parallel to grand theft auto, since they seem to be left headed - each infraction is a type of obstruction call.

Football penalties are usually not left-headed (e.g. "pass interference", not "interference - pass" (but see below). Though, I suppose "[personal foul] - [roughing the passer]" could be analyzed as left-headed. Non-obstruction penalties in ice hockey are also usually not left-headed (e.g. "unsportsmanlike conduct", not "misconduct - unsportsmanlike").

But the next step is to look at the structure of the announcement overall - in both games there's an announcement of the trangressor, the trangression, and the punishment. These elements are also provided in standardized orders.

Football: [transgression] [trangressor] [punishment].
    e.g. "offsides, number 98, defense, 5 yards, remains second down."

Hockey: [transgressor] [punishment] [trangression].
    e.g. "number 6, white, 2 minutes, hooking".

Some aspects of the [trangressor] component deserve further comment. First, in both games, the [trangressor] element includes the team and (if an individual infraction) the player's number. Second, it also seems that the order within this element can vary - team first or player number first. Third, in neither game is the name of the team or its home mentioned: football infractions refer to "offense", "defense", "kicking team", and "receiving team", while hockey infractions refer to the colour of the trangressor's sweater. (Though, when the arena host officially announces the penalty over the PA, the team's name is used, and before the player's number).

Which leads to a special note about infractions in which a hockey player has been particularly naughty, racking up several penalties at once. In these cases, some of the infractions are called with [punishment] elements but no [transgression]s. In recent years the NHL has been miking referees to let them announce penalties like NFL referees, but in multiple-penalty situations he does not bother. Instead, only the arena PA announcer does so, and lists the infractions in PA structure. e.g. "Flyers penalty to number 10, Gord Smith, 2 minutes for roughing, 5 minutes for fighting, 10 minute misconduct, game misconduct" - the last two [punishment] elements have no corresponding [trangression] component (unless misconduct is the trangression).

A last quirk is that pass interference calls in football leave room to be analyzed as left-headed structures. The rules allow pass interference to be called on the defense or offense - on the defense if the defender hinders the intended receiver's movement prior to the catch, and on the offense if the intended receiver hinders a potential interception. Such infractions may be called as follows: "pass interference, offense, number N, X yards ..." or "pass interference, defense, number N, the ball will be spotted ...". Now according to my grouping above, "offense" and "defense" are grouped under the [trangressor] element, but in these examples, could plausibly be analyzed as part of the [trangression] element.


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