Should College Athletes Be Paid to Play?

Posted by:
Category: Sports & Law
1 Comment »

sports1On April 19th I participated in a lively panel discussion debating the pros and cons of paying Division I Football Bowl Championship football and men’s basketball players for their services, hosted by The Ohio State University Sports & Society Initiative, which was recently started by its College of Arts & Sciences.  Despite the commercialized nature of these sports, I advocated that college student-athletes should not receive economic benefits based on their playing ability, including cash stipends, in excess of the full cost of attendance at their respective universities.  In my view, there should be greater emphasis on ensuring they receive a meaningful education and earn a college degree that well prepares them for a career other than professional sports, which could include lifetime free tuition and cash bonuses for earning an undergraduate degree. Other panelists included sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, who expressed substantially the same views, as well as Joe Nocera, a New York Times writer, and Vince Doria, a former ESPN senior vice president, who both asserted that college football and basketball players should be paid based on their individual athletic ability and accomplishments.  A video of this panel discussion along with a second panel of former Ohio State football, men’s and women’s  basketball players (including Maurice Clarett, Lawrence Funderburke, and Shawn Springs), and a women’s golfer discussing this issue is available here.

Print Friendly



Take Part in Sports, But Minimize the Risks, Sports Concussion Expert Says

Posted by:
Category: Public, Speakers at Marquette, Sports & Law
Leave a Comment »

Julian Bailes does not say that kids younger than 14 – or anyone else – shouldn’t take part in contact sports such as football.  But they should know the risks, follow the rules, and make sure they are involved with coaches and others who do the right things when it comes to the health of players.

Bailes is someone whose views are particularly worth attention. A former team physician for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he has been a central figure in medical work that has brought to light the links between repeated hits to the head and long-term brain damage among football players.

During an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Tuesday at Marquette Law School, Bailes outlined the history of awareness of the toll that concussions and “sub-concussive” hits to the head can have, going back more than a century. But it has been in recent years that work by doctors, most notably  Bennet Omalu and Bailes, has established the high incidence among former professional football players of a form of brain damage known as CTE. Read more »

Print Friendly



Insights Offered on Working in the White House and Judicial Nomination Gridlock

Posted by:
Category: Judges & Judicial Process, President & Executive Branch, Public, Sports & Law
Leave a Comment »

 

It was three years from the time Brett Kavanaugh was nominated by President George W. Bush to be a federal appeals court judge to the time when his nomination was approved in 2006. That certainly gave him a first-hand look at the difficulties of getting a federal judicial nominee approved by the U.S. Senate.

“It’s been a mess for decades,” Kavanaugh, who serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, said Wednesday during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Marquette Law School. Republicans have held up appointments by Democratic presidents. Democrats have help up appointments by Republican presidents.

Kavanaugh would not comment specifically on the current high-profile part of this recurring “mess,” in which President Barrack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court has met a wall of Republican opposition in the Senate.

But Kavanaugh repeated a position he has held for years, one that was in line with the policy Bush advocated when he was president: “There really should be rules of the road agreed on by both parties ahead of time to fix the process. “ Kavanaugh said Bush, during his presidency, had suggested a policy in which nominations would get a vote in the Senate within 180 days. Kavanaugh supported that idea. Read more »

Print Friendly



Baseball Diplomacy

Posted by:
Category: International Law & Diplomacy, Public, Sports & Law
1 Comment »

It has been great fun to watch President Obama in Cuba (and to get to say things like–hey, I was there!) over the last two days.  The one thing we did not get to do on our trip was attend a baseball game since we were rained out twice.  Sigh.  But we did talk about the potential impact of baseball exchanges on the economy and there is no question that both Cuban baseball and obama-cuba-baseball-300x229Major League Baseball will have much to discuss as the thaw continues.  Funnily, I was interviewed on Monday by a Swiss journalist–newspaper article here–about the impact of baseball based on my 2001 article called Baseball Diplomacy examining the controversy back then over the Baltimore Orioles playing a game in Cuba in 1999.  In what now seems like ancient history, I wrote about the Elian Gonzales affair, the Helms-Burton act, and, more pertinently to baseball, the economics of playing baseball in Cuba.  I also discussed how Cuban players are treated when they arrive in the U.S. depending on whether they come directly or via a third country.  I imagine that all of these rules will be updated and changing in the next few years.  And it will be fascinating to watch.  Here’s looking forward to more baseball in both directions!

 

Print Friendly



2016 Mardi Gras Sports Law Moot Court Team Success

Posted by:
Category: Legal Writing, Marquette Law School, Public, Sports & Law
Leave a Comment »

2016 Mardi GrasThe Marquette Sports Law Moot Court team advanced to the final eight of the 2016 Mardi Gras Sports Law Invitational Competition hosted by Tulane University Law School. Please congratulate team members Alexa Callahan, Darius Love, and Nicole Ways. Professors Matt Mitten and Paul Anderson coached the team.  This year the competition included more than 50 competitors and 26 teams.

Print Friendly



My Annual Super Bowl TV-Size Post

Posted by:
Category: Intellectual Property Law, Public, Sports & Law
Leave a Comment »

kitten bowlIt’s almost the time of year when people wonder what size television they can use to display the SuperBowl on. To answer that, I am resurrecting my post from two years ago. Average screen sizes have probably not increased enough to change my conclusion.

Print Friendly



Bucks President Offers Big Visions of Success On and Off the Court

Posted by:
Category: Milwaukee, Race & Law, Speakers at Marquette, Sports & Law
Leave a Comment »

With new design plans for the Milwaukee Bucks arena to be unveiled in the next several days, Peter Feigin, president of the professional basketball franchise, exuded nothing but enthusiasm during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Wednesday about the future of the team and what its impact will be not only in Milwaukee and statewide but across the globe.

“Awesome,” he said. “This is going to be miraculous.” But that will come to pass only with hard work, not only on the basketball court but throughout every aspect of what the does, Feigin told a large audience in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall.

Milwaukee? Feigin said the team wants to do all it can to connect with the city, including connecting its players with the youth of the city and increasing its philanthropic work focused on youth, wellness, and education. And the new arena and the team’s operations as a whole will mean several thousand full-time jobs in the city.

Wisconsin? The Bucks want to be “Wisconsin’s team” in the way the Green Bay Packers and Milwaukee Brewers have become Wisconsin’s teams in their sports. Read more »

Print Friendly



Forward Thinking for a “New Season”

Posted by:
Category: Legal Education, Marquette Law School, Public, Sports & Law
Leave a Comment »

During this time of the year when college football and the NFL are about to start anew, we as sports fans and consumers are inundated with numerous previews from websites and magazines (yes, some people still read things offline) about how the season will play out.

Predictions before the season are like noses—everyone seems to have one.

When I was a sports writer (oh, how long ago it seems), I dreaded the high school season previews. Not because we didn’t have good teams or outstanding players (ask me about current Michigan State junior wide receiver R.J. Shelton and I’ll have about 200 stories on his on-field exploits in high school).

Instead, it was the entire notion of writing about teams and individuals that had not done anything yet on the field. Coaches only had a vague notion about the season (unless they had numerous seniors returning), injuries had yet to come up, and you only had a decent idea of watching teams practice for all of maybe an hour in coming up with your preview. Read more »

Print Friendly



An Alternative Arena Approach: Arsenal and Emirates Stadium

Posted by:
Category: Milwaukee, Public, Sports & Law
1 Comment »

ArsenalRecently, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker approved an Assembly bill earmarking $250 million for the Milwaukee Bucks to use in financing their new downtown arena.

Since I was at the tail end of my London study abroad program at the time of the approval, it was interesting hearing a different perspective on the approach to arena building.

Over in the United Kingdom, it’s quite rare for the government to intervene (outside of the 2012 Olympics bid) in stadium deals.

I think back to the team I support as the ultimate in alternative model—Arsenal Football Club.

The Gunners were based in the Highbury, a 38,000-seat stadium that had existed since the 1920s. By the turn of the 21st Century, it was apparent to manager Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board that to compete in England and Europe consistently, a new revenue stream was needed. This was before the staggering media rights deals for the Premier League started increasing at an astronomical rate.

Read more »

Print Friendly



Crowdfunding and Sport: How Soon Until the Fans Own the Franchise?

Posted by:
Category: Corporate Law, Legal Scholarship, Public, Sports & Law
1 Comment »

Jamaika-BobThe latest issue of the Marquette Sports Law Review is now available online.  This is a faculty symposium issue.  I am proud to have my article, “Crowdfunding and Sport: How Soon Until the Fans Own the Franchise?,” included in this issue.  Here is the introduction.

The Green Bay Packers football team operates as a nonprofit corporation that has been publicly-owned since 1923.  Since that time, the franchise has raised capital by selling shares of stock in five different stock offerings, and there are currently over 350,000 individual members of the public who are shareholders of the team.  These shareholders are the joint owners of a sports franchise that is currently valued at $1.375 billion.

The public ownership of the Green Bay Packers is often noted in the media, and it is generally praised for contributing to the team’s strong tie to the surrounding community.  However, it is highly unlikely that any other N.F.L. team will follow in Green Bay’s footsteps.  Public ownership of franchises is actually prohibited under the current N.F.L. Constitution, and Green Bay’s ownership structure persists solely because of a grandfather clause that excludes the Packers from the prohibition.  Moreover, the unique nature of the Packer’s public ownership structure extends beyond the boundaries of the N.F.L.  The Green Bay Packers are currently the only wholly publicly owned franchise among all of the four major sports leagues (football, baseball, basketball and hockey) in the United States.

There is no reason why publicly owned professional sports teams cannot thrive and succeed at the same level as privately owned teams.  While public ownership of professional sports teams is relatively rare in the United States, it is common overseas.  Notable examples of publicly owned soccer teams are Real Madrid and Barcelona FC, both of which play in Spain’s Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional, commonly known as “La Liga.”  These teams are operated as “socios,” a form of nonprofit organization where fans of the club pay an annual membership fee for the right to buy season tickets in a special section of the stadium and the right to vote on certain management decisions.  Another team that plays in La Liga, Real Oviedo FC, has maintained consistent and significant numbers of public owners despite the relative disadvantage of being based in the region of Asturias, far from Spain’s major population centers.

It is not just that the United States lacks more than one example of a major league team that is wholly owned by the public.  It is also uncommon for American major league sports teams to have a minority ownership stake comprised of public shareholders.  In recent decades, the private owners of several major league franchises have experimented with establishing and maintaining a publicly owned minority stake, seeking to inject additional capital into their team whilst still maintaining control over the enterprise.  However, in each instance the private ownership group used a stock offering in order to create a minority interest, only to subsequently abandon the structure and negotiate the sale of the entire team to new owners.  For example, the Cleveland Indians baseball team held a public offering of shares in 1998 but went wholly private again in 1999.  The Boston Celtics basketball team had a longer run with minority public shareholders, holding a public stock offering in 1986 but eventually reverting to wholly private ownership in 2002.

Today the ownership of major league sports teams in the United States remains almost exclusively the province of large corporations, wealthy individuals or ownership groups comprised of these same two actors. Read more »

Print Friendly



Michael Sam and the NFL Locker Room: How Masculinities Theory Explains How We View Gay Athletes

Posted by:
Category: Legal Scholarship, Public, Sports & Law
Leave a Comment »

footballLast year, Michael Sam became the first openly gay player in the National Football League. Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh and final round of the draft. He survived the initial round of pre-season cuts with the team, but was let go when the team had to make a 53-player roster. He was picked up by the Dallas Cowboys and played on the team’s practice squad. After seven weeks with the Cowboys, Sam was released and remained unsigned the rest of the season.

Sam’s coming out and his subsequent drafting and playing in the NFL caused quite a stir. According to one Sports Illustrated article, one NFL player personnel assistant said, “I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet.”

But why? Read more »

Print Friendly



Unpredictable March Madness and the Law

Posted by:
Category: Public, Sports & Law
Leave a Comment »

This past weekend sixty-four teams played a total of fifty-two basketball games. Games are broadcast over four different television networks, and tens of millions of eyes remain glued to T.V. sets across the country — soaking up each buzzer-beating shot and Cinderella story. Just as unpredictable as the outcome of each tournament game is the result of a case pending against the NCAA, the entity that profits enormously from the nation’s fixation with March Madness.

O’Bannon v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), an antitrust class-action lawsuit, seeks to require the NCAA, and other enterprises who benefit from college-athletes’ images and popularity, to pay the players. This potential change in rules could shift these basketball and football stars from amateur to professional athletes. This change would significantly alter the landscape of collegiate sports.

Ed O’Bannon, a former UCLA basketball star, along with other former college athletes, filed suit in July 2009. The original defendants included the NCAA, the Collegiate Licensing Company, and Electronic Arts (best known for EA Sports). The latter two settled for $40 million. Last August, federal judge Claudia Wilken ruled in favor of the players, holding that not paying athletes for the commercial use of their likeness and image was a violation of antitrust laws. The NCAA’s appeal is being heard this month by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

This is a divisive issue that has passionate proponents on both sides. There are people in favor of paying college athletes and many that are opposed. In either case, one thing is certain: this March, there is much more than tournament brackets on the line.

Print Friendly