Gambling, Gambling / Gaming, Southern Justice, Sports, YouTube

Sports Law, Spaw, Lorts: College Sports Edition

I’m an old smelly sock, and I’m proud. And I think it’s time to stop the nonsense. After two years of almost relentless attacks on socks, a bit of perspective would be nice.

For at least two years, the popular press, bloggers, and a few sensationalist sandals have turned old smelly socks into the new investment banks. We entice bright young students into our stinky clutches. Succubus-like, when we’ve taken the sweat we want from them, we return them to the mean and barren streets to fend for themselves. Barefoot.

The hysteria has masked some important realities and created an environment in which some of the brightest potential lawyers are, largely irrationally, forgoing the possibility of a rich, rewarding and, yes, profitable, career.

I’m an old smelly sock, and I miss all those bright potential lawyers.

Let’s talk sports….


Roll Tide, y’all. Yesterday, a man was sent to prison for two years. At his sentencing, the judge called the hardened convict a “bully” and admonished him thusly, “You chose wisely to enter into this plea bargain. The actions that you took on January 9 of this year were morally reprehensible, there’s no way around it.”

As you surely already guessed, the man who received this tongue-lashing was the Alabama football fan who gained momentary notoriety last year when he placed his nut sack on the head of an LSU fan who had passed out in a Krystal burger joint in New Orleans after the national championship game that had seen the Crimson Tide destroy the poor teabagged fan’s Tigers.

The incident, an archetype of the Southern Gothic tradition, was captured on videotape and passed around the world via Youtube. Immediately after viewing, most decent people laughed a little and equally immediately, some anal retentive finger waggers called for the placer of the hairy beanbag to be tossed in prison for the rest of his life. Two years will just have to do for these titans of moral probity.

If you’d like to read an overwritten tale of the two men involved in this, click here. Deadspin did a solid job of deflating the feigned importance that’s been injected into the story, but the court that handed down the two year sentence clearly didn’t get the message that this just isn’t that big a deal. The judge even resorted to the buzzword of the moment, a word wholly without meaning or consequence: bully. Elie has written quite a bit on the topic, but it’s important to note that the word obscured the fact that the moral outrage lacked any sort of perspective. We have now made bullying just a shorthand for things we don’t like. In this case, bullying is a stand-in for an act that, while disgusting, is recreated in frat houses across America. The kind of thing you may see one friend do to another. The kind of fraternal behavior laughed at on move screens and television when perpetrated by the guys in Jackass. The kind of behavior that, quite frankly, is de rigueur for men of a certain age.

Listen, I have all the sympathy in the world for the LSU fan who got teabagged. I do. But the answer to life’s injustices is not always to throw a man in jail. Sometimes, the only answer is to embrace the fact that life will teabag you over and over and over again. Hopefully metaphorically.


This past weekend, the Ohio State football team capped off an undefeated season. However, they won’t be going to a bowl this year as they are on probation due to the sins of their last coach, Jim Tressel, who was carried off the field by former players of his at the same game this past weekend. The liar in winter.

And while the entire state of Ohio was lauding their lying former coach, the Ohio State Supreme Court was gearing up to suspend the law license of the attorney whose actions started the whole mess that landed the football team on probation. That attorney, Christopher Cicero, was suspended for a year for informing Jim Tressel that his players might be accepting gifts in violation of NCAA rules. While everyone invested in the NCAA’s sham interpretation of amateurism may have considered Cicero a brave whistleblower, one man who did not consider Cicero brave was his potential client who gave him the information he passed on to Tressel.

The judges who determined Cicero’s fate had this to say about his case:

“Prospective clients trust that their confidences will be protected when they engage in an initial consultation with an attorney,” [Justice Judith] Lanzinger wrote. “Cicero’s almost immediate dissemination of the detailed information that Rife provided on April 15 directly violated that trust.”

Justices Evelyn Lundberg Stratton and Terrence O’Donnell dissented, saying they would have imposed a six-month suspension.

“Cicero’s intentions were not for personal aggrandizement or personal gain, as found by the majority, but were to alert the coach about misconduct by his players that could affect the team,” Stratton wrote.

“His request that such information be held confidential does not support the notion that he was trying to seek fame,” she said.

Justice Lanzinger seems to have it about right. Justices Stratton and O’Donnell, on the other hand, seem to lack an understanding of the power of fandom and the ways in which big-time college athletics can warp the sensibilities of an otherwise decent human being. Of course Christopher Cicero’s intentions were for personal aggrandizement. Like every groupie or hanger-on, he thought he was saving the good ship Ohio State with his actions, and somewhere deep in his daydreams, probably thought he’d receive an “atta boy” from Coach Tressel himself. Hell, it was probably him being carried off after last week’s game when he let his mind wander. But no, none of this is true. College athletics is a joke, and Christopher Cicero’s belief that Jim Tressel needed to hear what a tattoo parlor’s owner had to say about his “boys” is equally laugh-worthy.

And so Cicero will sit out a year. Just like his favorite team. And when he lays his head down to sleep, perhaps he will be dotting that i. And the crowd goes nuts.


* This isn’t criminal, but perhaps it should be? The NCAA was called “malicious” and “over the top” by a judge in a defamation case brought against it by the coach implicated in the Reggie Bush scandal.

* Former MLB third baseman Doug DeCinces was indicted on insider trading charges this week. I used up all my finest Doug DeCinces jokes here.

* The Athletic Director at Tulsa was placed on leave while the University investigates charges that he used a bookie to gamble on sports. Who uses a bookie these days? Serious question. Feel free to answer in the comments.

Brian Downing, Alabama fan guilty in post-BCS assault, sentenced to 2 years [The Times Picayune]
Ohio State case lawyer suspended [ESPN]

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