Monday, May 5, 2008

Softball and Divorce

One of the advantages of living in a University town like Tucson, is that you can take advantage of all the university has to offer. We enjoy attending cultural and sport events. We recently added our first University of Arizona Women’s Softball game. The team was national champions last year and we expected an exciting game. There certainly was excitement in the air as we walked to our seats with the night lights on, music playing, the smell of hotdogs, and the announcer introducing the teams. It is always a thrill to hear the national anthem at sports events. You may be asking what does all this have to do with Divorce Mediation. I always see metaphors for mediation or the application of a sport to mediation. We learned two new things at the game. First the mercy rule and second slap hitting.
The mercy rule, also well known by the slightly less polite term slaughter rule (or, less commonly, knockout rule and skunk rule), brings a sports event to an early end when one team has a very large and presumably insurmountable lead over the other team. The mercy rule is most common in games such as baseball or softball, where there is no game clock and play could theoretically continue forever, although it is also used in sports such as hockey, football, and soccer. It made me wonder if there should be a mercy rule in divorce. Should the divorce stop when one party exceeds a certain limit of money?
We were at first confused when we saw a hitter running before she tried to hit the ball. We asked a fellow spectator what it was all about and she said it was slap hitting. She explained that slap hitting is an offensive strategy designed to place stress on the defense and provide more opportunities for our offense to score runs. The slap hitter must be concerned with getting on base anyway she can. Thus, on base percentage is much more important to her than batting average is. Using this technique, the batter first begins by running in the batter’s box and then contacts the ball. Should divorce avoid strategies which are designed to put more stress on the other party and concentrate on problem solving?
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