The Hurricanes Versus The Hurricane

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Satellite photo of the swirling air mass of Hurrican Katrina located over the State of Florida.What does September of 2017 mean to me?

In September of 2017, I had completed the first month of my law school experience. I had moved from Miami, Florida to the city of Milwaukee. I still had in the back of my mind my recent summer time experiences of going to country music festivals and being in the sunshine state. But here I was in Milwaukee reading countless pages on topics ranging from Torts to Contracts to Criminal Law. While I was getting my head in the game of attempting to focus on law school, my attention began to get diverted towards watching countless hours of the Weather Channel.

“Breaking News: Category Five Hurricane Headed Towards Miami”

How was I to focus knowing my loved ones were being faced with a horrific storm that could possibly result in tragedy or even destruction to property? Luckily, my loved ones survived the experience, even though the city did not look the same when I returned later that month. All the news about the hurricane began to remind of the summer of 2005 when Hurricane Katrina made an impact on the city of Miami, before traveling to Louisiana as a category five hurricane. The impact of Hurricane Katrina marked a memory in my life as a ten-year-old. The glass balcony doors were shaking, rocking back and forth. One could think they were going to swing open and cause the hurricane to enter the house. The howling of the wind led to me becoming anxious. The neighbor’s generator had been struck by lightning and was on fire. Imagine those scenes to a ten-year-old who experienced a category one hurricane. Now imagine being in a new city, a thousand miles away, and having to wait while your loved ones endured a projected category five hurricane.

What should September of 2017 mean to you?

In September of 2017, I was not the only one facing a major dilemma. Fall had commenced, which meant the start of college football season. Rivalries are dished out, fans begin to bring out their favorite game day gear with hopes of winning a National Championship. However, universities in the Florida area were preparing for an unwelcomed guest: Hurricane Irma. Some colleges decided to resume activities and still travel to other states to play football, some colleges rescheduled their football game for a later day, and one even had a buyout. Nevertheless, there was one school that did neither of the three options: The University of Miami. In a recent suit, Arkansas State is taking action against University of Miami for a breach of contract by (1) failing to appear for the scheduled game, (2) failing to reschedule the game when its schedule permitted, and (3) failing to pay Arkansas State liquidated damages of $650,000.

Continue reading “The Hurricanes Versus The Hurricane”

The Real Math: Who Owes Whom?

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A photo of the mascot for the Florida Marlins baseball team, a man dressed in a foam costume with a fish head and wearing a baseball jersey.The start of Spring can mean one of two things. For some people, Spring can mean the weather will finally get warmer, or they will be going on a vacation. However, for baseball fans, Spring means the beginning of a new season on the road to October. Players head out to Spring Training, where they showcase to their fans the excitement of heading towards the 162-game season. Nevertheless, with the beginning of baseball season means the off-season has concluded and controversies start to surface in the media. Whether it was a favorite player being traded or a new ownership of a team, the possibilities of controversies are endless. In this particular situation, the county of Miami-Dade in Florida is filing suit against Miami Marlins (former owner) and Marlins TeamCo, LLC (the new owner of the Miami Marlins). The county of Miami-Dade is filing suit against the Marlins for refusal to pay the five percent equity payment that the Marlins promised to pay when they sold the Marlins to the Bruce Sherman-Derek Jeter group.

$1.2 Billion Dollars. That number represents the dollar amount that Jeffrey Loria sold the Miami Marlins to the Bruce Sherman-Derek Jeter group for in October of 2017, even though he only purchased the team for $158.5 million.  How much did the county of Miami-Dade receive from this transaction? Zero dollars. The real question in this case is why should the county of Miami-Dade receive any type of monetary relief from this transaction.

During the season of 2009, times were tense between the Miami Marlins and the city of Miami. The owner at the time, Jeffrey Loria, was making statements that he wanted to move the Marlins out of Miami and into a new market unless a new stadium was built. However, Loria claimed that since profits were decreasing, the team could not build a new stadium without the help of public funding. The county of Miami-Dade provided approximately $389 million towards the construction of the stadium, and the city of Miami agreed to provide approximately twenty-five million dollars and the land for the stadium. Besides providing public-funding, the county of Miami-Dade and Jeffrey Loria came into an agreement. The agreement stated that Jeffrey Loria would keep the Marlins in the Miami market for a specified period of time, and if he did then the county would provide public funding. However, if Jeffrey Loria sold the team within that specified period of time, then the team would have to make an equity payment to the county of Miami-Dade.

Continue reading “The Real Math: Who Owes Whom?”

Bucks Exec Emphasizes Team’s Community Goals in “On the Issues” Program

Posted on Categories Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at Marquette, Sports & LawLeave a comment» on Bucks Exec Emphasizes Team’s Community Goals in “On the Issues” Program

Yes, the owners of the Milwaukee Bucks have big goals for their basketball team, including ultimately an NBA championship. But they also have big goals for spurring positive developments in Milwaukee, not only in the immediate area of their new arena downtown but more broadly.

“We’re trying to do our part as a good corporate citizen,” Alex Lasry, senior vice-president of the Bucks, said at an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Marquette Law School on Thursday.

Lasry, the son of Marc Lasry, one of the lead owners of the National Basketball Association franchise, emphasized the community involvement goals of the team. That starts with the arena and surrounding developments, including a practice facility, parking structure, and entertainment district. More development will come after the current arena, Bradley Center next door, is razed and land needed for construction purposes is freed up, Lasry said. He said the team was talking about $1 billion in total spending in the immediate area.

Public funding of the arena project, totaling more than $250 million in state and local money, is one reason the team is strongly committed to having a broader positive impact on Milwaukee, he said. But it goes beyond that.

Lasry said the chance to do more than just own a team was one of the big draws for his father and Wes Edens, the other major figure in the purchase of the team from Sen Herb Kohl in 2014.

“When my dad and Wes were buying the team, my dad had been looking to buy a team for about 10 years before he bought the Bucks,” Alex Lasry told Gousha. “He looked at the Sixers, he looked at the Hawks, he looked at a few teams, and was never quite able to pull the trigger on something.

“And I think when they came here, what they saw was not only a chance to own a basketball team, which had always been a life-long dream and has been really cool, but they saw a chance to re-think what a major part of a downtown could be. They saw a chance to actually develop 30 acres of a downtown in a major city, which I don’t know if a lot of you know, but you don’t actually get to do that in a lot of cities, where you kind of get a blank slate for 30 acres in a downtown.”

Describing the reach of what is going on in the immediate area of the arena, which is slated to open a year from now, Lasry said, “What we’re doing right there is exactly what we wanted to do and exactly what we promised, which is create real economic development and not just create an arena on an island, which is kind of what the Bradley Center is right now.”

The team’s community goals also include paying comparatively high wages for all the jobs connected to games; setting – and meeting – ambitious goals for hiring city residents and contracting with businesses owned by minority members and women during construction and beyond; and supporting economic development and community causes such as working with schools and youth organizations. He said the team wants its impact to reach beyond the arena area into neighborhoods across the city.

Lasry, who owns a home in Milwaukee and who has become involved in a list of civic groups, spoke highly of the city. Milwaukee has needs, he said, but the city has “incredible bones,” including a beautiful location and major universities. And then there are the people. “If you give Milwaukee 100 percent, Milwaukee will turn around and give you 200 percent,” he said.

”There is no reason it (Milwaukee) shouldn’t be able to match any big city,” he said. And the Bucks want to be a key part of that.

To watch the one-hour program, click here.  







The Law Professor Who Coached the Marquette Football Team

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The Marquette University Law School has long been associated with the world of sports.  Although the National Sports Law Institute has represented the connection in recent years, the school’s relationship to the sports industry goes back much further than the 1989 founding of the Institute. Federal Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, later the first Commissioner of Baseball, was a lecturer at the law school shortly after it opened; Carl Zollmann, the first major sports law scholar, was on the Marquette Law faculty from 1922 to 194; and a number of outstanding athletes, including Green Bay Packer end and future U. S. Congressman Lavvy Dilweg and Olympic Gold Medalist (and future congressman) Ralph Metcalf studied at the law school in its early years.

However, no one has ever combined the two fields more perfectly than Prof. Ralph I. Heikkenin who, during the 1947-48 academic year, both taught full-time at the law school and coached the Marquette varsity football team, at a time when the team played at the highest level of collegiate competition.

Heikkinen was already well known to sports fans in the upper Midwest when it was announced that he would be joining the Marquette faculty and staff in the spring of 1947.  A native of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Heikkinen had grown up in the community of Ramsey.  He had enrolled in the University of Michigan in the fall of 1935 where he excelled academically. Not only was he an outstanding student, but he was a published poet and the president of the student government.  On top of that, he was an under-sized lineman who made the powerful Michigan football team as a walk on.

Although he began his career as an unheralded newcomer, by the time he was a junior, Heikkinen had developed into one of the best two-way linemen in the country. Although just 6’ tall and weighing only 183 pounds, he was voted as his school’s MVP during both his junior and senior years and was chosen unanimously as a guard on the 1938 All-American team.  During Heikkinen’s senior year, the Wolverines, under new coach Fritz Chrisler, narrowly missed a perfect season thanks to a narrow 7-6 defeat at the hands of Minnesota, in which Michigan botched an extra point kick, and a 0-0 tie with Northwestern, which featured a Michigan missed field goal from the 6 yard line.  Even so, the team finished the season 6-1-1, ranked #16 in the country in the final Associated Press poll. Continue reading “The Law Professor Who Coached the Marquette Football Team”

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.

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

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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. Continue reading “Take Part in Sports, But Minimize the Risks, Sports Concussion Expert Says”

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

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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. Continue reading “Insights Offered on Working in the White House and Judicial Nomination Gridlock”

Baseball Diplomacy

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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!


2016 Mardi Gras Sports Law Moot Court Team Success

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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.

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

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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. Continue reading “Bucks President Offers Big Visions of Success On and Off the Court”

Forward Thinking for a “New Season”

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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. Continue reading “Forward Thinking for a “New Season””