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Courts have applied three divergent legal theories to uphold actions for sports-related injuries: 1) intentional torts, 2) willful or reckless misconduct, and 3) negligent conduct. See generally Raymond L. Yasser, Liability for Sports Injuries, in Law of Professional and Amateur Sports (Gary A. Uberstine ed., 1992) at sec. 14.01. Courts have historically been reluctant to allow participants in contact sports to recover money damages for injuries, absent a deliberate attempt to injure.

The intentional tort in a recreational team contact sport is assault and battery. A battery is the intentional, unprivileged, harmful or offensive touching of a person by another. Restatement (Second) of Torts sec. 13 (1965). The Restatement (Second) of Torts (1965) addresses sports injuries only in the context of intentional torts and in the context of apparent consent to an intentional invasion. Comment b to sec. 50 describes the touching to which a player willingly submits by taking part in a game.

The full text of the comment is as follows: b. Taking part in a game. Taking part in a game manifests a willingness to submit to such bodily contacts or restrictions of liberty as are permitted by its rules or usages. Participating in ...

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