My dad and I were talking about the St. Louis Blues blowing their chances at making it into the playoffs by losing their last game to the team ranked below them. It was quite disappointing after getting our hopes up that the Blues might make it after all the ups and downs of the season.
The most interesting part of the conversation wasn’t the speculation on what the team could have done better or even what’s in store for the team, but that my dad and I couldn’t seem to agree on what the Blues needed to do to clinch the wild card spot.
I was under the impression that the team needed to win no matter what to qualify, while my dad said that all the team had to do was get the game to overtime. Some of my readers unfamiliar with hockey may think this is nonsense as obviously winning the game means the team moves on, but hockey has a system of its own in determining playoff teams.
The National Hockey League uses a points-based system to determine what teams are the best.
A win gets a team 2 points and a loss no points, unless the game goes into overtime, then the losing team receives 1 point.
If in the final standings two teams have the same point totals the criteria to determine who is ranked higher is as follows: most wins, most points against each other among teams that tied, and the greatest positive differential of goals scored for and against among tied teams.
This is where the confusion between my dad and I arose, as the Blues were one point ahead of the team they were playing. So, an overtime loss for the Blues would have result in a tie in total points and we couldn’t seem to agree what the criteria was from there.
My dad and I weren’t the only ones having this debate, as my local morning show also couldn’t seem to figure out which scenarios needed to happen in the Blues’ last couple of games. The point based ranking system made it so fans can barely know if their team has a legitimate playoff chance in close races.
Thoughts of the government’s asinine and overly complicated rules and regulations permeated my mind after this conversation. I remember as a teenager debating with my friends whether it was illegal to drive without shoes on or to drive with headphones in.
Currently, the model of government has so many laws and regulations that citizens aren’t sure what is legal and ignorance of the law rarely can be used as an excuse.
USA Today explains in an opinion piece on the excess of laws that, “While the old-fashioned common law crimes typically required a culpable mental state — you had to realize you were doing something wrong — the regulatory crimes generally don’t require any knowledge that you’re breaking the law.”
The author continues to explain how Congress should pass legislation that would require proof that a citizen was aware they were breaking the law, and because a vagueness doctrine makes a law void when “a person of reasonable intelligence would have to guess at its meaning,” it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to make a crime void if a person can verifiable prove that were unaware of wrongdoing.
This uncertainty of being a law-abiding citizen or not creates an anxious society where individuals can’t enjoy their own freedoms. Much like sports fans can’t enjoy the end of the hockey season as much because of the convoluted way of deeming the best teams in the league.
The libertarian response to this would be to eliminate unnecessary and unconstitutional laws so that the country’s citizenry can be aware of the laws of the land. In hockey, it’s been proposed to move to a 3-2-1 model where wins in regulation are worth more points and would hopefully eliminate the questionable rankings.
Regardless, both instances demonstrate how something is more enjoyable when more people understand the rules. No citizen who wants to be law-abiding should have to question their actions because they might be breaking a law of which they are unaware.