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Archive for Thursday, September 21, 2006

Residents surprised to learn their favorite sports are illegal

City code technically outlaws racquetball and other activities

September 21, 2006

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For 30 years, Larry Hatfield and 10 friends have played handball at the Lawrence Athletic Club.

"We play Monday, Wednesday, Friday," Hatfield said.

And until this Wednesday, Hatfield had no idea he was breaking the law.

"I'm running with a bunch of criminals and didn't know it," he said.

According to Section 14-405 of the Lawrence City Code, it's illegal "to throw, bat, or propel a ball, stone or any hard substance against any building or vehicle or with the intent to strike any person or property."

That makes popular sports, including racquetball, handball and dodge ball, technically illegal.

"I had no idea," said Frank Alexander, a frequent racquetball player. "But I'm not going to change a thing."

Frank Alexander, right, and Mike Bartlow, play racquetball Wednesday at the Lawrence Athletic Center, 3201 Mesa Way. Language in an old Lawrence law makes games like racquetball, handball and dodge ball technically illegal. The city is taking steps to change the language.

Frank Alexander, right, and Mike Bartlow, play racquetball Wednesday at the Lawrence Athletic Center, 3201 Mesa Way. Language in an old Lawrence law makes games like racquetball, handball and dodge ball technically illegal. The city is taking steps to change the language.

Under the ordinance, which has been in the city code since at least 1979, the penalty for breaking this law is a fine of $25 to $500 and up to a year in jail.

But city staff attorney Scott Miller said he was not aware of anytime police have cited someone involved in a friendly game.

"Obviously, that would be an absurd result," Miller said. "But a strict reading of the ordinance might have made it illegal, so we want to fix that."

Miller has recommended that city commissioners change the code to grant exceptions for these kinds of consensual activities. But because the ordinance tries to protect people and their property, the law regarding hurled missiles as a whole will stay on the books. It's part of a larger project to bring sundry city laws up to date.

"Periodically, you have to review any law to make sure it still squares with the state law and make sure it reflects things that are enforceable in the community, and that's what we did," Miller said.

City commissioners will take a closer look at the updates in the next few weeks.

Comments

jayheel 8 years, 3 months ago

I'd rather see an article like this in the LW rather than a regurgitated AP or Rueters story from another state. Interesting in a bland kinda way...hey, we all read it.

jonas 8 years, 3 months ago

Just as long as they still let me play basketball with a freshly shorn human head, then it's all good for me.

average 8 years, 3 months ago

If a law is redundant, it should be eliminated. Would this not be covered by the more general "damage to property" or "assult" laws and civil suits?

davisnin 8 years, 3 months ago

Misspelling 'arbitrary' is illegal. As is using 'an' for 'and' and random capitalization of 'vague'. Better get the city commissioners on that fix.

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 3 months ago

so just change the wording or add a bit about games and practice of games it should not be to hard to keep the intent of the law and exempt games such as raquetball. Do not see how this is a huge news story other than to show how law makers are short sited in the long run.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 3 months ago

"Obviously, that would be an absurd result,"

This whole story is an absurd result. A story about Howard Stern's latest mysterious rash would have had more value than this filler.

I noticed that the story didn't say anything about the ever-popular rat race being investigated or prosecuted. Too bad. The rat race is worse than the cock fight.

Tychoman 8 years, 3 months ago

How is this news? Why are these sports illegal in the first place? What a ridiculous article.

Angie Dick 8 years, 3 months ago

what a crock..This is BS. Why don't they focus on the real crimes?? give me a break. This world is getting really stupid about crime values if you ask me!!

Linda Endicott 8 years, 3 months ago

I kind of think the ordinance was talking about throwing stuff at the OUTSIDE of buildings, not on courts inside that were specifically designed for handball.

gerbilsniper 8 years, 3 months ago

Obviously a busy news day in good ole lawrence....only took 7 hours to be able to read this article

Sacerdotal 8 years, 3 months ago

Just as long as they still let me play basketball with a freshly shorn human head, then it's all good for me.

No that's football, my friend. Notre Dame has never used one, but the origin of football involved use of such an object. "The 'Fastern Eve HandBa'' is played every February in the streets of the town. Popular throughout medieval Scotland, one gruesome explanation of the origin of the game is that, following a particularly bloody battle between the Scots and their Auld Enemy, the victorious Scots used the head of a fallen English general as a ball." http://www.martinfrost.ws/htmlfiles/football_origin.html

badger 8 years, 3 months ago

Well, let's see.

We have a badly written law that makes something illegal which obviously wasn't intended to be made illegal. The options are: enforce it, ignore it, change it. The city's opting to change it so that it makes sense.

Yeah, let's all get irritated that they're actually reviewing laws to see if they are doing what they were intended to do, and call it 'stupid' and 'pointless' to put up a story showing how, for once, government is behaving in a sensible, reasonable, moderately intelligent fashion.

Jamesaust 8 years, 3 months ago

'it's illegal "to throw, bat, or propel a ball, stone or any hard substance against any building or vehicle or with the intent to strike any person or property."'

Uh...I guess that would depend on the definition of "to strike", or whether you define an interior wall as a "building". If not, then, what the heck is this article about?

I have no idea why LJW would think this "news" or why they believe "to strike" involves racquetball.

{btw-Larry Hatfield is quite the racquet-master}

nbnozzy 8 years, 3 months ago

Posted by sybil (anonymous) on September 21, 2006 at 4:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"This is exactly what I am talking about. The average citizen moves within this community unaware they are breaking a law until it is too late. Arbritray an Vague= unconstinutional and oppressive."

aka-----Naughty but Nice in 1999. The city approved a legal business license but has since tried to revoke it.

The city of Lawrence is, let's face it... a bunch of school yard bullies. KNOW who is running your city, those who need to be re-elected to continue the abuse and those who are APPOINTED to postions of power who will be stringed puppets.

You get who you vote for...........

as_I_live_and_breathe 8 years, 3 months ago

Throw them in jail. These fitness/excersize punks think they can come in here throwing there balls all over the place. It ain't right I tell you. Those rules are in place for a reason. For the safty of everyone else.

If they want to do that crap let 'em do in in the privacy of their own homes.

Can't they use some of those survaliance cameras from Wak fest to catch these criminals?

(I call this a joke, much like this article, please don't slash my tires.)

jayhawks71 8 years, 3 months ago

I believe that this ordinance along with all other City Ordinances should be enforced to the limits of the law.

Thanks.

Marion.

Ahh good Marion. I see that you are now in favor of the smoking ban otherwise you certainly could not support the enforcement of a 'bad law.'

monkeywrench1969 8 years, 3 months ago

It is obvious the LJW wants to drum up controversy and routinely tries to find any way to say the government is trying to keep the man down. If some one had been arrested for raquet ball or hand ball we would have heard about it way before 1980.

It is clear they have the law to keep drunks/college students from throwing things at people or walls when they are "toasted"

THere are many stupid things on the books all over like not hunting off the back of a donkey.

Please. Stir it up to get more interest in the monopoly news group

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