Ignorance is no Excuse

Ignorantia legis neminem excusat – “ignorance excuses no one” – (www.m-w.com)

The concept of ignorance in defense against criminal punishment goes back as far as the Roman Empire, which is where we get the phrase: “ignorance excuses no one.” Imagine what society would look like if I could go up to anyone on the street, punch them repeatedly in the head, and state to the police officer: “Sir, I had no idea I could not do that.”



One jurist stated the following regarding ignorance: “It has always been accepted as an axiomatic principle that ignorance of the law is no excuse. Were the position otherwise it is obvious that the legislature’s handiwork could be flouted indiscriminately, an offender taking care to insure that he did not make himself cognizant with the law” (www.duhaime.org). That laborious phrase simply means that laws would mean nothing if individuals could say they were unaware of the laws.

Now how does this apply to lacrosse? Well, I do not have enough fingers and toes to count how many times a player, coach, or fan yelled: “That’s not a rule,” or, “I didn’t know that was a rule!” So, everyone look yourselves in the mirror and admit that you have done that at least one time while watching a professional sport.

There is not a single lacrosse official in this country who believes that every player and coach on the field knows every rule in the rulebook. In fact, I repeatedly ask coaches who argue with me what color this year’s rulebook is. Then they realize that I read the rulebook regularly. The color is green for 2011, by the way. Still, we zebras do our best to educate. We patiently explain to irate coaches, angry players, and clueless parents.

That’s right parents. I laugh every time you yell “WARD” from eighty yards away. It is not a ward, and I am supported by Rule 6, Section 11 – Warding Off. Also, here is a handy video on warding if you are unsure about what a ward looks like compared to just moving arms.

Angry Coach

Angry Coach

Ok, now it is my turn to eat all of my previous words. Even though I wear the black-and-white stripes I am ignorant of the rules from time to time. I forget when I am supposed to do a play-on verus a flag-down. I forget the specific rules and regulations of tournament play during the summer. I even forgot the required measurements of a legal lacrosse stick in a Varsity game. The point is, we are all ignorant from time to time. The difference is, officials, lawyers, and criminals are generally the only people that know we are being ignorant, and we study the laws again as soon as we get the chance.

So to ensure that everyone has a fair shake at being knowledgable about this year’s AYL Rules. Please visit this page: www.ayllax.com/ayl-2011-spring-boys-rules.

Featured Image Credit – www.threedonia.com


About Lou Corsetti

Gordon is a born lacrosse official who played for ten years before realizing he'd much rather ref the game than play it. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia and officiates youth, high school, and collegiate men's lacrosse games all over the southeast. His passion is educating and training officials, coaches, players, parents and all other fans on the rules of lacrosse, it's history, and how best to develop lacrosse in new areas.

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