The sports agent performs a critical function as an intermediary between management and athletes by handling contract negotiations, endorsements, financial planning, and other associated activities. This chapter provides a history of athlete representation beginning in the 1920s with the efforts of Christy Walsh and Charles C. Pyle through the increased role of players associations during the final third of last century. In the 1980s, professional associations and state legislatures launched efforts to regulate agent behavior as a reaction to evidence of abuse. In the 2000s, these problems prompted the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws to introduce the Uniform Athlete Agents Act, a legislative initiative ultimately adopted by over 80% of states, and the U.S. Congress passed the Sports Agent Responsibility Trust Act. Both initiatives addressed the tension between the NCAA’s amateurism standards and efforts by agents to attract clients before the completion of their eligibility.
This chapter examines how civil liability assessments and criminal convictions have affected the legality of blood sports. Blood sports can be divided into three categories: human versus human contests, human versus animal sports, and animal versus animal fighting. For over a century, blood sports have been under both social and legal attack, resulting in significant changes in most of the historic forms of combat worldwide. The chapter begins with an overview of the most popular violent sports today, including contact sports such as American football and ice hockey. It then considers criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits that arise from contact sports, including the “concussion suits” filed on behalf of athletes who suffered head injuries. It also discusses the doctrine of assumption of risk in sports and concludes with an analysis of how legislative intervention can obviate private tort liability for latent, chronic injuries to the brain of players.
Nicholas M. Ohanesian
This chapter addresses collective bargaining and workforce protections available in professional sports. Broadly speaking, collective bargaining in the United States is a workplace arrangement where employees opt to negotiate as a group with their employer through a labor union. The two parties typically negotiate an agreement, commonly called a collective bargaining agreement, that codifies for the length of the contract the rights and responsibilities of each side. Conversely, the term “workforce protections” injects the government into the employer-employee relationship. Federal and state authorities pass laws that regulate the relationship between employers and employees in the workplace. As this chapter explains, these dynamics play out in both traditional and unique ways in U.S. professional sports.
Collective Bargaining in Professional Sports: The Duel Between Players and Owners and Labor Law and Antitrust Law
This chapter examines the complex collective bargaining process in professional sports leagues. The labor negotiations between players and owners present unique conflicts between labor and antitrust law. The resolution of these conflicts will have a significant impact on the future of collective bargaining between players and owners. This chapter provides a brief overview of the relevant principles of labor law, briefly traces the history of collective bargaining in professional sports, identifies and analyzes the conflict between labor and antitrust law, examines the recent conflicts in the NBA and NFL labor negotiations, and looks forward to future negotiations between players and owners.
Richard T. Karcher
This article examines the power of professional sports league commissioners to discipline and suspend players for misconduct both on and off the field. It first provides a historical background on disciplinary measures for players in different professional sports leagues, including the National Football League, over the past century. It then considers the source of the commissioner’s power and authority to discipline professional athletes for misconduct as well as the rationale behind it, focusing on the adoption of personal conduct policies at the league level. It also discusses the commissioner’s authority and power to act in the “best interests” of the sport. Finally, it analyzes the limitations on the commissioner’s power and authority, including the collective bargaining agreements and some arbitration and court rulings that involved suspensions of players by league commissioners.
This chapter examines restrictions that professional sports leagues and governing bodies place on the freedom of movement of professional players—both negotiated and imposed—and how these restrictions fit within the antitrust/competition and labor law regimes. This chapter engages in a comparison of the North American and European “models” of restrictions and finds that the North American “model” is more likely to withstand antitrust/competition law scrutiny. The North American model falls under the protections offered to collectively bargained agreements, while the European model currently faces scrutiny for potential violations of European competition law. Nevertheless, this chapter suggests that these two models are likely to converge as the internationalization of sport continues. European governing bodies may be pushed to negotiate with players more in the future, while North American leagues are already adopting “European” practices in regard to facilitating player movement among other professional leagues.
Daily Fantasy Sports and PASPA: How to Assess Whether the State Regulation of Daily Fantasy Sports Contests Violates Federal Law
Daniel L. Wallach
Recent state legislation regulating fantasy sports contests may present a different type of threat to the nascent fantasy sports industry—the possibility that the U.S. Attorney General (or others) could invoke PASPA to enjoin the state law. This is the same law that prohibits states from legalizing traditional, single-game sports betting. Although PASPA has not yet surfaced as an obstacle to state legalization of DFS, it may emerge as an important issue as additional state legislative measures are introduced, particularly with a new U.S. Attorney General potentially taking a harder look at Internet gambling generally. Further, as more and more states begin passing laws legalizing daily fantasy sports contests, many have begun to question why some forms of sports gambling are allowed but not others. This chapter examines how PASPA could apply to state-sanctioned fantasy sports and provides an analytical framework for assessing the viability of such legislation under PASPA.
This chapter discusses the effects of recreational drugs, specifically marijuana, and performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports. To that end, this chapter highlights how these types of drugs have impacted society, athletes, team owners, and sport leagues. In addition, it provides a robust discussion about the historical, political, and legal impact of drug usage in sports and how these issues influence player rights, obligations, and duties. Finally, this chapter provides insight into the possible future authorization of marijuana based on its medicinal benefits and how the legalization of marijuana would be poised to reshape the legal relationship between players, teams and leagues.
Glenn M. Wong and Christopher R. Deubert
This chapter examines the rules governing when individuals are eligible to play in professional sports leagues and organizations. The different nature of the sports leads to important differences in the eligibility rules, including their legal status. Additionally, as the governing body of collegiate sports, the NCAA plays an important role in the practical consequences of the leagues’ eligibility rules. The leagues have a variety of justifications for their eligibility rules. While these justifications are often valid, they seem to rely on minimal, if any, data. As a result, there are constant concerns about whether the eligibility rules are sufficiently reasonable and fair considering the limited window in which many athletes have a chance to play professionally.
Jimmy Golen and Warren K. Zola
The role of the professional sports commissioner evolved from the early functionaries who were empowered to settle disputes between teams into nearly omnipotent sports czars. In the wake of the 1919 Black Sox scandal, baseball team owners gave their first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, virtually unlimited authority to act in the “best interests.” Owners in different sports have tinkered around the edges of this broad portfolio over the years, but it is only since players unions were able to negotiate protections for their members that commissioners have been forced to accept a substantial check on their powers. Recent cases of commissioner overreach could set the stage for confrontations in future collective bargaining negotiations.
Social media has ushered in seismic shifts to communication structures in society and these effects extend to the world of sport, where athletes and sports figures routinely divulge content on social media platforms. This chapter discusses athletes’ and other sports figures’ social media use to express their identity, which includes showcasing more of their personality, expressing dissent, and providing commentary on political and social issues. The chapter discusses legal implications for sport organization administrators as they seek to balance organizational reputation with First Amendment rights. The chapter also addresses related issues that can manifest in the online sphere, such as private commentary becoming public, threats made to athletes, and social media use by organization employees that can negatively impact athletes and harm the organization.
This chapter discusses the leading issues involving individuals with disabilities who participate, or seek to participate, in U.S. sports. This analysis highlights the most important issues in the interscholastic, intercollegiate, professional, and Olympic sports contexts. This chapter asserts that while current legal doctrine focuses on prohibiting discrimination and accommodating “qualified” persons with disabilities within existing sports programs, more should be done to expand adaptive sports programming. In this way, law can be used to help expand our current understandings of who is an “athlete” and what is a “sport,” so that in the future, more individuals with disabilities can enjoy the benefits of athletic competition.
Michael A. McCann
It has often been said that there is no such thing as sports law. The time has come to rethink that position. In recent years, an impressive canon of sports law scholarship and accompanying principles has come to light. The Oxford Handbook of American Sports Law navigates this canon and the sports controversies that enliven it. Perhaps the most instructive of these controversies is Deflategate, which centers on eleven slightly underinflated footballs and their unexpectedly riveting fallout. As a legal controversy, Deflategate is sports law in action. This chapter explores Deflategate and the key principles of sports law that it orbits.
Michael A. McCann
This chapter explores the legal authority of professional sports league commissioners to govern owners of teams. Commissioners and owners are motivated by often complementary, but occasionally disparate, sets of incentives. When friction between a commissioner and owner surfaces, key contractual covenants establish the relevant duties and responsibilities for dispute resolution. Whether, and to what degree, a commissioner and owner invoke those covenants is not always predictable or seemingly logical. To illustrate, this chapter details the turbulent yet lengthy tenure of Donald Sterling as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. By analyzing the Donald Sterling saga, this chapter reveals the legal boundaries and contextual dimensions of commissioner authority over team owners.
Thomas A. Baker III
This chapter discusses application of legal doctrines and defenses within recreational sport settings. Many of the concepts discussed here are very general in that they apply to an array of recreational sport settings. Some are more specific to particular recreational situations. The general concepts are introduced so that the reader appreciates the way courts apply the law across various types of recreational sports cases. The more specific concepts involve problems that are relevant, timely, and somewhat unique to particular recreational sports. Ultimately, recreational sports law is not a field of law with its own distinct legal norms. Instead, “recreational sports law” encapsulates legal applications that are more common to recreational sport cases than to others. Exposure to the contents of this chapter will provide the reader with a more nuanced understanding of those legal applications of which recreational sport providers and participants need to be the most concerned.
The Rooney Rule’s Reach: How the NFL’s Equal Opportunity Initiative for Coaches Inspired Local Government Reform
N. Jeremi Duru
In December 2002, the National Football League’s thirty-two clubs agreed to institute a policy requiring that all clubs interview at least one person of color for any vacant head coaching position. Known as the Rooney Rule, this practice transformed the complexion of NFL sidelines and spurred similar reforms in other realms of corporate America as well as in the public sector. This chapter explores the movement, led by one activist citizen, to adopt Rooney Rule-like reform in Oregon and its largest city, Portland. In doing so, the chapter illustrates the power of sport to impact and shape society well away from the fields, courts and arenas where it is played.
Stephen F. Ross
Competition law generally requires competitors who agree on restraints of trade to justify their agreements as procompetitive when market forces create the potential for consumer exploitation. This analysis, known as the Rule of Reason (from its common law origins), does not apply to internal agreements within a single firm. The U.S. Supreme Court has characterized sports league policies as agreements among club owners who control the league, rather than unilateral decisions of a single entity. Opponents of the application of the Rule of Reason continue to seek doctrinal shields against judicial review of anticompetitive sports rules, and this chapter explains why such an approach is unsound competition policy.
Erin E. Buzuvis
This chapter will address several aspects of gender inequality in college athletics, including inequitable allocation of resources and opportunities, inadequate institutional response to allegations of sexual violence against college athletes, and employment discrimination against female coaches and administrators. These challenges exist notwithstanding federal law, Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in education. Reasons for the recalcitrance of gender inequality in college sports include limitations of the law to adequately motivate compliance, as well as the patriarchy’s reliance on sport as a means of constructing and sustaining the relationship between masculinity and power. For these reasons, it is important to consider both legal and extra-legal solutions to the problem of gender inequality in sport that involve lawmakers and individual and associated educational institutions, as well as the general public.