Sports Law • Risk Management

July 15, 2010: The Challenges of the Iroquois Lacrosse Team

The Iroquois Lacrosse Team is deeply disappointed because they will not be able to play in the world championship in the U.K. this week. Although exceptions have been made to allow them to return to the United States using their tribal passports, Britain is refusing to allow entrance. Apparently, they consider the partly handwritten documents to be too risky as they do not have identity fraud prevention features, such as holograms. The guidelines that are cited to justify the 23 member squad’s restriction from the country were established by the International Civil Aviation Organization and became more restrictive after 9/11.

It seems reasonable that the Iroquois people that were partly responsible for the invention of lacrosse should be allowed to play. However, there is a serious concern that if they are allowed to travel using their own made up documentation, other groups should be allowed to do so as well. If it were up to me, I’d let them into England to play and provide for some additional identification measures besides the passports. I can understand why there is a concern though. If an exception is made, does the UK have to admit groups that conceivably have terrorist ties? Where do they draw the line?

Also, evaluating the risk of loss vs. the chance of gain tells us that it is prudent to keep the team out without compliant identification. The devastation of terrorism certainly outweighs the Iroqois team playing Lacrosse in the UK. Or, should we take the approach of many United States judicial rulings and consider the value of free play of sport as higher than the risks associated with it?