Remembering the 1964 All-Star Game

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johnny callison cardLast week’s Major League All-Star Game was pretty entertaining, as All-Star games go. The game was reasonably close throughout, and the outcome was never entirely certain until the final out was made. Even though the American League jumped off to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, by the middle of the 4th inning, the game was tied at 3-3. The AL went back up 5-3 in the bottom of the 5th inning, before the offense disappeared on both sides. Neither team scored after that point, and together they combined for only two hits and two walks.

The 2014 game also ended a string of somewhat one-sided games. In 2011 and 2012, the NL prevailed by margins of 5-1 and 8-0, while last year the American League shut out a hapless NL squad by a 3-0 margin.

Submerged in the discussion of the game were occasional references to the 1964 All-Star Game of fifty years ago. That game, one of the most exciting All-Star games of all time, was played on July 7, 1964, in recently opened Shea Stadium, the new home of the hapless New York Mets. Read more »

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Returning College Athletics to College Students

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Category: Higher Education, Public, Sports & Law
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kansas city chiefs football gamesThere is a simple way to end the hypocrisy that is modern college sport and at the same time preserve the much-beloved pageantry of men’s college football and basketball.

First of all, we need to embrace the idea that college athletics should be a part of the educational mission of colleges, and not part of their “providing entertainment” function. Subject to the exception for men’s football and basketball set out below, participation in college athletics should be limited to regularly enrolled students who chose to attend their college free from the enticement of special financial support.

The first step is to abolish all athletic grants-in-aid (euphemistically called athletic scholarships) except for those awarded in men’s football and basketball. Except for a few pockets of fan support for college baseball and hockey and women’s basketball, the simple fact is that most sports fans do not care about college sports other than football and men’s basketball. Read more »

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Why Did the Washington Redskins Choose the Name “Redskins” in the First Place, Rather than Some Other Native American Name?

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[This is a continuation of an earlier post, “Why the Redskins are Called the Redskins.”] 

In a recently “discovered” Associated Press story of July 5, 1933, owner George Preston Marshall of the National Football League’s Boston franchise is quoted as saying that he was changing the team’s name from “Braves” to “Redskins” to avoid confusion with Boston’s baseball Braves. This bit of evidence has been proclaimed to disprove the contemporary Washington Redskins’ claim that the name change was to honor the team’s newly appointed Indian coach, William Lone Star Dietz.

However, that is not necessarily the case. All the quote really establishes is that Marshall felt he had to change the team’s name before the 1933 season began; it does not necessarily explain why he chose the name “Redskins” as the replacement name. The name change was apparently necessary because Marshall had entered into an agreement for his team to play in Fenway Park in 1933, rather than in Braves Park, as it had done in 1932.

The story of how the team came to choose the name “Redskins” is a complicated one and for which the evidence is somewhat sketchy. Read more »

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Why the Redskins Are Called the Redskins

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Washington Redskins logoWith 50 United States senators signing a letter to the president of the NFL urging him to pressure Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, to change the team’s name, and Congressman Henry Waxman calling for the House Energy and Commerce Committee to hold hearings on the name, it is clear that the controversy over the name “Redskins” has yet to subside.

In the Wednesday, May 27, Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney purported to rebut the Redskins’ claim that the team was named the Redskins in honor of its Native American coach William “Lone Star” Dietz (whom, it turns out, may not have been an Indian at all, but that was clearly unknown to team owner George Preston Marshall at the time.)  The source of McCartney’s proof is a July 6, 1933 AP story that quoted Marshall to the effect that he changed the team’s name from “Braves” to “Redskins” so that he could avoid confusion with the Boston Braves of baseball’s National League and so that he could continue to use the team’s new Indian head logo.

McCartney is clearly correct on that point.  The team already had a Native American name (Braves) when it signed Dietz as its coach.  The name was changed, as Marshall indicated in the above quote, because the team was moving to a new venue within the city of Boston.  (The team did not move to Washington until 1937.)

Here is the story: Read more »

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Mitten Elected President-Elect of Sports Lawyers Association

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mittenLast week, the Sports Lawyers Association held its 40th annual conference in Chicago. Unsurprisingly, the Law School had a strong presence at the conference, which boasted more than 800 attendees. Current students, alumni, National Sports Law Institute Board Members, and several faculty members (Professors Anderson, Braza, Cervenka, Mitten, and yours truly) all attended the conference. Professors Anderson and Mitten both spoke on panels during the conference.

In addition, Professor Mitten was elected as the president-elect of the Sports Lawyers Association, which is a national and international group of more than 1,700 members consisting of sports industry professionals, sports lawyers, and sports law professors. Professor Mitten will become the organization’s president in May 2015 and serve a two-year term. Congratulations, Professor Mitten!

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Why Are There So Many Major College Post-Season Conference Basketball Tournaments When Forty Years Ago There Were Almost None?

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In the modern world of college basketball, every Division I conference except the Ivy League sponsors a post-season conference tournament. In 2013, there were 31 such tournaments.

For teams that have played extremely well during the regular season, these tournaments are not crucial but a good performance can improve a team’s seeding in the NCAA tournament. For teams on the proverbial bubble, a good performance, even short of a conference championship, can be enough to push a team into the field of 68.

For teams that have no chance of being selected for the post-season on the basis of their regular season performance, their fans can always hope for a miracle run that will allow them to claim their conference’s championship and its automatic bid to the “Big Dance.”

It is not hard to understand the popularity of these tournaments. They bring together into a single building all of the conference’s teams as well as a congregation of fans from across the conference. Some fans are willing to spend large sums to attend the tournament in person, and thousands more are happy to watch it on television or listen to the games on the radio. Fans of underperforming teams know that somewhere out there in the basketball stratosphere there is a team with a losing record that is going to catch fire and will end up matching the NCAA tournament. With luck, that team will be their team.

However, students of the history of college basketball know that 40 years ago, such tournaments were quite rare in major college basketball. Although district championship tournaments were ubiquitous in high school basketball in the 1950s and 1960s, they were once shunned by college conferences. Read more »

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Marquette’s First Basketball All-American Was a Marquette Law Student

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Boops MullenMarquette’s men’s basketball program has produced a long line of All-American basketball players. The ranks of this elite group include such notable hoopsters as George Thompson, Maurice Lucas, Dwayne Wade, Jim Chones, Dean Meminger, Earl Tatum, and Butch Lee.

However, the first Marquette basketball All-American was 6’2” guard Edward “Boops” Mullen who played for the Hilltoppers (as the team was then known) from 1931 to 1934. Mullen was named as a first team selection to the Converse All-American team following the conclusion of his final varsity season, during which he had been enrolled as a first year Marquette law student.

Mullen was also the first (and to date only) Marquette law student to have played in the NBA or one of its predecessor leagues after receiving his law degree. Read more »

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Marquette Law Professor and CAS Arbitrator Matt Mitten Helps Resolve First Legal Dispute at the Sochi Winter Olympics

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Category: Arbitration, Marquette Law School, Public, Sports & Law
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Olympic_rings_without_rims.svg

Professor Matt Mitten was one of three members of a Court of Arbitration for Sport panel that was called upon to resolve the first legal dispute to arise at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Along with fellow arbitrators Patrick Lafranchi of Switzerland and Robert Decary of Canada, Professor Mitten denied the claim of Austrian skier Daniela Bauer that she had been improperly excluded from the Austrian Olympic team.

The decision was handed down in Sochi. Bauer filed her claim on February 2, and the matter was heard by the Ad Hoc panel on the evening of February 3, with a final decision handed down at 1 p.m. (local time) on February 4.

A full account of the proceedings can be found here.

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My Official Super Bowl Television Post

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Category: Intellectual Property Law, Public, Sports & Law
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kitten bowlThe 48th annual Super Bowl is tomorrow, which means of course that people are thinking about intellectual property law. (Doesn’t everyone?) No, I’m not going to talk about whether your local grocery store infringes on the NFL’s trademark when they advertise “Super Bowl Savings,” except to pose the question of whether a single person ever has been actually confused about whether that indicates a relationship between the NFL and the grocery store. Or the makers of this thing. Rather, I’m going to talk about television. Specifically, what size television can you watch the Big GameTM on?

The NFL caused a bit of confusion on this score when they sent a cease and desist letter to an Indiana church back in 2007 that was planning on hosting a Super Bowl party for church members, with a fee for attendance and the game displayed on a “giant” TV. (I can’t find a description of the exact size.) In the letter and in subsequent pronouncements, the NFL took the position that it was a violation of copyright law to display the Super Bowl to a public gathering on a screen larger than 55 inches diagonally. In the face of likely congressional legislation in 2008, the NFL backed down and said it would not enforce its rule against church groups. But it still maintains that others cannot display the game publicly on sets larger than 55″.

News stories about the controversy have gotten some parts of the relevant copyright law correct, but are still a bit confusing on the 55-inch “rule” and where it comes from. So I’ll try to clarify. The short version: There is no 55-inch rule, at least not for the game itself. Read more »

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Redskins and Hog Rinds–Trademark Denied

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Pork RindsThe United States Patent and Trademark has recently refused to register the trademark “Redskins Hog Rinds” for a California food company on the grounds that the mark is “disparaging” and therefore prohibited by Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, the federal trademark statute.

The ruling, handed down on December 29 by an attorney-examiner, can be appealed. The decision concluded that there was no reason to deny registration of the mark except for the fact that it was disparaging to Native Americans. The examiner reached this conclusion on the basis of dictionary definitions that identified the term as disparaging and by the opposition to the continuing usage of the term “Redskins” by a number of Native American groups, including the National Congress of American Indians and the Oneida Nation, as well as articles about Indian activist opposition to the term that appeared in the Washington Post and the magazine, Indian Country Today.

This is not the first time that the term “Redskins” has been ruled disparaging. In recent years the Washington Redskins football team has unsuccessfully attempted to register variations on its famous mark. Read more »

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The Use of Native American Logos in Czech Ice Hockey

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HC PlzenI was generally aware of the Czech fascination with American Indians, but I was caught by surprise when I encountered a trio of Native American musicians and dancers performing in resplendent tribal costumes on a street corner in downtown Prague during my first day in the city this past December. (See below.)

I was even more surprised to discover that the players of HC Skoda Pilsen (Plzen, in Czech), the reigning champion of the Czech Extraliga (the country’s highest Hockey League), wear an Indian head patch on their uniforms and are nicknamed the Pilsen Indians.

In addition to the logo, the Pilsen club also has a live mascot (presumably a Czech) who dresses liked a Plains Indian. Moreover, at the beginning of each season, an individual in the garb of an Indian shaman comes on to the ice in the club’s home arena and performs a good luck ritual on behalf of the team. The mascot and shaman can be seen here.

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A Conceptual Approach to Advising High-Profile Clients

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This blog post concludes the series on the Fantex, Inc. IPO by analyzing the need for competent, and honest, financial attorneys with respect to managing the wealth of high-profile clients.

It is hard to imagine that NFL running back Arian Foster received legal or financial counsel before signing his brand contract with Fantex. Under the terms of the agreement, Foster assigns 20 percent of his gross earnings to the company in return for a one-time payment of $10 million, intended to be raised through the company’s IPO. The contract remains effective indefinitely and grants Fantex the right to audit Foster’s finances. Moreover, the only earnings excluded from the 20 percent assignment provision are any movie and TV roles where Foster does not portray a football player, as well as any music that he produces or writes. The one-sidedness of this contract—and the fact that Foster actually signed it—shows that Foster’s advisors, if any, did not have his long term financial interests in mind. Read more »

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