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Streaking is a time-honored tradition, cementing its place among the pantheon of professional sports antics. Some of the best tackles on the gridiron we have ever seen were not made by NFL players, but stadium security personnel. Every season there are a few folks brazen enough to cross the spectator barriers and try their hand at evading security staff. With few exceptions, the brief game of cat-and-mouse is brought to a quick resolution. The streaker is tackled by security and escorted off the premises, often to the amusement and applause of the fans.
Though the momentary disruption of the game is welcomed by those in attendance, what becomes of the streaker? The consequences will vary depending on several factors, but it mostly relies on the statutory law of the state where the event is being held. So, if a streaker does happen to make an appearance at Super Bowl XVII, here are some legal scenarios surrounding such a performance!
What are the laws in Arizona?
There may be more than just the teams and officials who are on the field in Glendale, Arizona this Sunday. Traditionally streaking is done without clothes but in recent history, the majority of streakers have been clothed. This is important in determining what charges and punishments an individual may face.
As the Super Bowl is being held in Arizona, they could face a few different charges depending on the situation. If a person were to just jump out of the stands and start running on the field they would be charged with Criminal Trespass in the second degree, which is considered a class 2 misdemeanor. On the other hand, if the fan were to jump out of the stands, remove their clothes, and then run on the field, in addition to Criminal Trespass they would also be charged with incidence exposure. Due to the large number of people who will attend the Super Bowl, some of whom will be minors, this situation would raise the severity of the indecent exposure to a felony level.
What about streaking in Colorado?
Because we practice law in Colorado, we know you may be curious about the local laws here (don’t get any ideas, Broncos fans!).
If a person were to streak at a game in Colorado, the charges would be similar, but not the same, as in Arizona. In Colorado, the streaker would still receive the charge of Second-degree criminal trespass if they just ran onto the field, and the charge of Public Indecency if they did it without clothes on.
What if the streaker is injured?
If the streaker is injured when they are tackled by security, they are not going to be able to have much success holding the stadium personnel or premises liable. The act of trespassing voids most arguments to be made against the stadium and waives the stadium of liability.
In fact, the reverse could happen. Security personnel have been injured in the pursuit and apprehension of streakers. They could potentially file a suit against the streaker for any injuries they may have suffered. Most likely, though, security personnel would be covered through workers’ compensation.
What if a player tackles the streaker?
In a Monday Night Football matchup between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner tackled a streaker on the field. The streaker was injured in the affair and later filed a police report with the Santa Clara Police Department. An attorney representing the streaker stated his client was a victim of “blatant assault.”
While there are no league rules prohibiting a player to intervene and stop a streaker, it can open the door to potential liability. In the aforementioned case the streaker’s injuries were very mild, with a member of the security staff suffering a knee injury in the ordeal. It is unlikely that Bobby Wagner would face any significant consequences.
The bottom line
Whether it is done as an act of protest or for nothing more than a laugh, please do not go streaking at a football game. The risks are not worth the reward, especially if a few 300-pound defensive linemen decide to lend their services in apprehending the streaker!