Not Sleepless, Just Basketball-Less, in Seattle

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After forty-one years of playing in Seattle as the Supersonics, the owners of the franchise this season relocated the team, with NBA approval, to Oklahoma City, where it is currently playing as the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Although the city of Seattle is left without an NBA team, public uproar over the move seems to be at a minimum.

In fact, it is now clear, if it weren’t already, that football and baseball occupy a different place in the sports landscape than basketball and hockey.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in the arena of franchise relocation.  When an NFL or MLB team relocates, a movement begins among the representatives of the area losing its team to convince Congress to take away the ability of the teams and leagues to control the location of their franchises.  Sympathetic fans in unaffected cities rally to the cause and Congressional intervention suddenly seems a real possibility.  This happened in the 1960’s and early 1970’s when Milwaukee, Kansas City, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., lost their major league baseball franchises, and it happened in the 1980’s and 90’s when NFL teams in Oakland, Baltimore, Arizona, Cleveland, and Houston moved to new cities offering more lucrative places to play.

In each case, Major League Baseball and the NFL dodged a regulatory bullet, but only because they permitted or arranged for new teams to replace the ones that had abandoned their home cities.  Thus, Milwaukee lost the Braves and got the Brewers; Kansas City lost the Athletics but got the Royals; Seattle lost the Pilots but got the Mariners; Oakland lost the Raiders and then got them back; Baltimore lost the Colts but got the Ravens; St. Louis lost the Cardinals but got the Rams; Cleveland lost the Browns but got the new Browns; and Houston lost the Oilers but got the Texans.  Had the leagues not moved relatively expeditiously to replace the moving franchises, direct Congressional regulation of franchise shifts could well have become a reality.

In contrast, there have been numerous franchise shifts in the NBA and the NHL since 1960’s. 

Continue reading “Not Sleepless, Just Basketball-Less, in Seattle”

Marquette Law School at 100: Remembering Carl Zollman

Posted on Categories Legal Education, Legal History, Legal Scholarship, Marquette Law School, Marquette Law School History, Sports & Law1 Comment on Marquette Law School at 100: Remembering Carl Zollman

Although now largely forgotten at Marquette, Carl Zollman was a prominent American legal scholar of the first half on the twentieth century who spent his entire academic career at this Law School.  Zollman is recognized as the founder of aviation law as an academic discipline, and the case can also be made that he is the founder of sports law as well.  The latter claim is obviously quite appropriate given the Marquette Law School’s current prominence in the field of sports law.

Born in Wellsville, New York, in 1879, Zollman was educated to be a minister in the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church.  He was ordained in 1902 and became a pastor at a small church in Williamsburg, Iowa.  In 1906, he moved to Wisconsin, where his father, also a Lutheran minister, was involved with an enterprise known as the Evangelical Lutheran Colonization Company.  For reasons that are not known, the younger Zollman resigned from the ministry later that year and enrolled in the law program at the University of Wisconsin, just a month or two shy of his twenty-seventh birthday.  He received a law degree from Wisconsin in 1909, and he joined a Madison law firm.

Over the next thirteen years Zollman moved between a variety of law and editorial positions in Madison, Chicago, and Milwaukee, all the while publishing extensively.  Continue reading “Marquette Law School at 100: Remembering Carl Zollman”

New Report Finds Lack of Diversity in College Football Coaches

Posted on Categories Labor & Employment Law, Sports & LawLeave a comment» on New Report Finds Lack of Diversity in College Football Coaches

Football_player The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDES) of the University of Central Florida has put up this press release entitled: The Buck Stops Here: Assessing Diversity among Campus and Conference Leaders for Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Schools in the 2008-09 Academic Year.

Here’s a taste:

With the firing of Ty Willingham at the University of Washington and the resignation of Ron Prince at Kansas State, the 2008 regular season of college football will conclude with the controversy over the poor record of hiring African-American Division IA (Football Bowl Subdivision – FBS) head football coaches still continuing to make headlines. Their departure will leave only four African-American and two other head coaches of color. College football is still far behind other college and professional sports.

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Baseball Metaphors and Judicial Opinions

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A long time ago–so long ago, in fact, that the editing process was conducted entirely via Fed Ex and (gasp) telephone* –I published an article on the use of baseball metaphors in judicial opinions. It is one of 19 hits in the Westlaw JLR database for “Kirby Puckett,” one of four for “Kent Hrbek,” and the only law review article ever written that mentions Puckett, Hrbek, and Ron Gant. Though I missed out on all the fun that might have ensued had it been more readily available when Chief Justice Roberts was describing his role in umpireal terms, and even the more recent discussions here, I have just now posted it on SSRN for your procrastinating enjoyment.

* It’s interesting to me that the telephone seems to have disappeared from the editing process. Not once since I started teaching have I spoken to a law review editor other than the one who made the publication offer. Maybe it’s not that surprising, though. I remember some of those conversations from the editor side as being a little intimidating. That might have been partly a product of how my first conversation with an author on the phone unfolded. He (who was kind of big-namish) came across as a little grouchy, and not all that pleased with some of the edits proposed by my predecessor. Somehow or other–I guess I was trying to find a source or something as I fumbled for an explanation of whatever my predecessor had done–I pulled the phone off my desk. From his side perhaps the line just went dead. On my side there was a loud crash and a cascade of papers onto the floor. In retrospect, not that big of a deal. At the time, a little bit mortifying.

Cross posted at PrawfsBlawg.