Rugby Hair-Pulling Considered Rude In Every Sport But Football

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In the midst of play a few weeks ago, WNBA player Liz Cambage’s arm got all wrapped up in her opponent Kalani Brown’s hair. At first the tangle seemed to be an accident, but soon there was pushing and shoving and intentional hair-pulling, and Cambage walked away from the encounter with a flagrant foul.

Anyone who has ever had long hair (or a very determined younger sister) knows that hair-yanking is an inciting behavior. Pulling someone’s hair is the physical equivalent of calling someone a whiny baby. It hurts, sure, but it’s also just subtly demeaning enough to start a war. In a professional sport, hair-pulling –in addition to being deeply rude—can be very dangerous. But is it always strictly illegal? Through some combination of boredom and a need to gain specific answers to my strange questions, I reached out to every major American sports league to find out what their official stance on hair-pulling is.

MLB:

No rule on hair pulling.

A representative from Major League Baseball says that MLB has no league-wide rules regarding hair or hair pulling. Since baseball is not a contact-sport, though, it is safe to assume that pulling an opponent’s hair unnecessarily would lead to disciplinary action.

NFL:

Currently legal for defenders to make tackles by pulling hair.

In 2003, the “Ricky Rule” (named after Ricky Williams) was passed deeming hair a part of the player’s uniform. But in October 2018, Al Riveron, the senior vice president of officiating, said that rule might be reevaluated.

NWHL:

Hair-pulling is not allowed.

IIHF Rule 156 i. (PULLING HAIR, HELMET, CAGE) states, “A player who grabs or holds the cage or helmet, or pulls the hair of an opponent, will be assessed either a minor penalty or a major and automatic game-misconduct penalty.”

NHL:

Hair-pulling is not allowed.

The NHL specifically bans hair-pulling in its rule book. Rule 75.

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