Should College Athletes Be Paid to Play?

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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.

Professor Ghiardi

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Head and shoulders portrait of Law School professor James Ghiardi.I remember Professor Jim Ghiardi with great fondness and respect. Jim was very welcoming to me when I joined the Marquette law faculty as the director of the National Sports Law Institute in 1999, and he made significant contributions to the development of the NSLI (and our Sports Law program) as a longtime member of its Board of Advisors and one of its strongest supporters. I always appreciated his periodic visits to my office to offer advice and suggestions about building their quality and reputations, which he conveyed with a big smile and a twinkle in his eye. He’s one of the pillars that established a solid foundation for the NSLI and our Sports Law program as well as Marquette Law School. May he rest in peace while his memory continues to inspire us.

Humor and the Law, Part One

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In honor of April Fools’ Day, the editors of the blog asked the faculty of the Law School to share their favorite examples of legal humor. Every day we will share a different faculty member’s submissions.  First up is Professor Matt Mitten.

 

Lawyer: You say you saw the man stabbed in the hay field with a fork. What kind of fork was it?

Witness: Well, did you ever see a tuning fork or an dinner fork in a hay field?

 

Did you hear about the Texas lawyer who got his client a suspended sentence?  They hung him.

 

My lawyer says that giving legal advice gives him a grand and glorious feeling. His clients give him a grand and he feels glorious.

 

One day the gate between heaven and hell broke down. St. Peter called out to the devil, “Hey Satan, it’s your turn to fix it.” “Sorry ,” said the devil. My men down here are too busy shoveling coal. We can’t worry about a mere gate.” “All right,” declared St. Peter, “if that’s your attitude then I’ll have to sue you for breaking our agreement.” “Go ahead and try!” snapped Satan. “Where are you gonna get a lawyer?”

 

While on his rounds Officer Sullivan stumbled on a young couple making love in a graveyard. He promptly carted them off to night court. “What were you doing in a graveyard at midnight?” asked Magistrate Riley. “Nothing wrong, Your Honor,” replied the boy. “I was just burying the old stiff.” “And what about you?” Riley asked the girl. “I was the undertaker, “ she responded. “You idiot!” exclaimed the judge to the policeman, and he fined the officer $25 for disturbing the peace.

 

Professor Mitten’s Exam Taking Essentials for Essay Questions

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[Editor’s Note: This month, faculty members are posting on their exam taking tips. This is the third post in the series.]

Law school essay exams are a completely different kind of essay exam than what students might be used to.  Here, Professor Mitten shares his essentials for taking law school essay exams.

1.         Carefully read question at least twice and sort out what happened.  It may be helpful to draw a chronological diagram of the parties’ conduct.

2.         Determine the question(s) that you are being asked to consider.  For example, it may be broad (e.g., discuss the parties’ respective claims) or very specific (e.g., consider A’s claims against B).  Some professors (like me) will give you credit only for answering the question asked.

3.         Identify each plaintiff’s claims and address each claim separately.  For example, in torts, tell the professor who (plaintiff) is suing whom (defendant) for what (tort)? Continue reading “Professor Mitten’s Exam Taking Essentials for Essay Questions”

Technology Has Enhanced Legal Education Significantly, But Its Essential Components Remain the Same

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[Editor’s Note: This month, we asked a few veteran faculty members to share their reflections on what has changed the most in legal education since they became law professors.  This is the fifth in the series.]

As I finish my twenty-second year as a law professor, I marvel at how technological advances and the proliferation of specialty courses have changed (and, in most instances, improved) legal education since I began my academic career in 1990.  Yet I am mindful that the essential components of a high-quality legal education remain unchanged (e.g., an interactive and engaging academic environment that stimulates critical thinking, reasoned legal analysis, creative problem solving, an understanding of legal doctrine and policy, and the development of effective verbal and written communication skills).

There were no laptops in the classroom when I begin teaching twenty-two years ago, and handwritten exam answers were the norm. Now it’s rare to see any student without his or her PC during class.   Continue reading “Technology Has Enhanced Legal Education Significantly, But Its Essential Components Remain the Same”

Baseball Hall of Fame Dedicates Selig Center for Archives of MLB Commissioners

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On August 17th, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, dedicated the Allan H. “Bud” Selig Center for the Archives of Major League Baseball Commissioners. Commissioner Selig is a member of the Law School’s adjunct faculty, holding the title of Distinguished Lecturer in Sports Law and Policy; he and I co-teach Professional Sports Law. Considering the many things he has done to advance the game of baseball during his nineteen-year tenure as commissioner (both interim and permanent) and as the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers for more than three decades, I believe this is a very appropriate and well deserved tribute to Commissioner Selig.

“The Selig Center for the Archives of Major League Baseball Commissioners will ensure a permanent home for the documentation and preservation of the Office of the Commissioner’s contributions to baseball history,” said Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Board of Directors. “This archive will provide a central location for the study and research of the importance of the Office of the Commissioner, and its role in shaping and advancing the National Pastime for nearly a century.” Continue reading “Baseball Hall of Fame Dedicates Selig Center for Archives of MLB Commissioners”

Commissioner Selig Joins Sports Law Faculty

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I am delighted that Commissioner Bud Selig now is a member of our sports law faculty. (See the University’s press release here.) His insightful lectures in our Pro Sports Law course enrich our students’ learning and offer an educational experience no other law school currently provides. This Thanksgiving I am thankful for having the unique and enjoyable opportunity to teach a sports law course with Commissioner Selig.

Do Athletes Have Better Brains Than the Rest of Us?

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Many people, particularly those who lack or have little athletic ability, perceive elite athletic performance as solely a function of outstanding physical abilities and skills. In a recent article with the above title, Carl Zimmer writes: “The qualities that set a great athlete apart from the rest of us lie not just in the muscles and the lungs but also between the ears. That’s because athletes need to make complicated decisions in a flash.” His article describes several neurological studies of the brains of great athletes in an effort to learn more about how the brain works. Research suggests that the brains of elite athletes are more efficient and able to respond more quickly to rapidly changing variables, which enables their bodies to perform physical tasks much better and faster than those with average brains.  To me, this suggests that great athletes, with the necessary legal education, would make good trial lawyers.

New Issue of Marquette Sports Law Review

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Congratulations to the editors and staff of the Marquette Sports Law Review for producing Volume 19, No. 1 (Fall 2008), which is an excellent symposium issue on “Doping in Sports: Legal and Ethical Issues.” Information about how to obtain a copy of this issue is avaiable here. The symposium issue includes the following:

DOPING IN SPORTS: LEGAL AND ETHICAL ISSUES

Federal Labor Law Obstacles to Achieving a Completely Independent Drug Program in Major League Baseball, Robert D. Manfred, Jr

Corruption: Its Impact on Fair Play, Richard H. McLaren Continue reading “New Issue of Marquette Sports Law Review”

Sports and Politics

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Tonight college football fans will be watching the on-field competition in the Bowl Champion Series game between Florida and Oklahoma, which will determine the BCS “national champion.”  But some politicians, in addition to President-elect Barack Obama, are as interested in off-field issues such as how the participating teams in this game are determined and how this game is described.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff claims the BCS system unfairly prevents universities from non-BCS conferences (e.g., the undefeated Utah Utes) from participating in the BCS championship game, which places these schools at a competitive and financial disadvantage in violation of the federal antitrust laws.  Two Texas Republican congressmen, Joe Barton and Michael McCaul, along with Illinois Democrat congressman Bobby Rush, have introduced federal legislation that would “prohibit the marketing, promotion, and advertising of a postseason game as a ‘national championship’ football game, unless it is the result of a playoff system.”  Their proposed bill would make any non-compliant football championship game “an unfair or deceptive act or practice” that violates the Federal Trade Commission Act.  The Utah attorney general’s antitrust investigation and proposed federal legislation both seek to have the major college football championship determined by a playoff system rather than a complex formula based on subjective human polls and computer rankings that determine the #1 and #2 ranked teams at the end of the regular season. Continue reading “Sports and Politics”

Athlete Eligibility Requirements and Legal Protection of Sports Participation Opportunities

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In a forthcoming article to be published soon in the Virginia Sports & Entertainment Law Journal, Professor Timothy Davis (Wake Forest University School of Law) and I compare and examine the existing legal frameworks governing athletic eligibility rules and dispute resolution processes for Olympic, professional, college, and high school sports from both private law and public law perspectives.

Given the substantial benefits that athletes derive from athletic participation, our article assesses whether the developing discrete bodies of international, national, and state law appropriately regulate the promulgation of athlete eligibility rules and their application by monolithic sports leagues and governing bodies having broad, plenary authority to oversee Olympic, professional, college, and high school sports. In conducting our analysis, we consider whether athletes have an effective voice and/or voting rights in the eligibility rule-making process; the nature and effect of the eligibility rule; and the nature and scope of judicial or arbitral review of a sports governing body’s eligibility rules, application, and enforcement.

Continue reading “Athlete Eligibility Requirements and Legal Protection of Sports Participation Opportunities”

Who Owns the Rights to Fantasy League Games?

Posted on Categories Sports & Law2 Comments on Who Owns the Rights to Fantasy League Games?

Many sports fans play fantasy baseball or football games.  Should the operators of on-line fantasy games, which generate millions of dollars in annual revenues, have to pay a licensing fee to Major League Baseball, the NFL, and/or their players for using game statistics and player names?  For example, does the unauthorized use of Brett Favre’s name and statistics in a for-profit NFL fantasy football game violate his right of publicity?

In my recently published article, A Triple Play For The Public Domain: From Delaware Lottery to Motorola to C.B.C., 11 Chapman L. Rev. 569 (2008), I argue: 

The creation of a collateral product incorporating merely public domain information about a sports event or athletes’ performances, including fantasy league games, is not (and should not be) infringing — absent copyright or patent infringement in violation of federal law, or a likelihood of consumer confusion regarding its origin, endorsement, or sponsorship in violation of the Lanham Act.

Continue reading “Who Owns the Rights to Fantasy League Games?”