Sports

We need help and will threaten legal action to get it.

The legal world might be wrapped up in the Elena Kagan confirmation hearings, and the international community might be wrapped up in the World Cup. But there is one thing that is capturing the minds of many “average Americans”: at midnight Eastern time, NBA free agency starts. LeBron, D-Wade, and the face of major professional basketball will begin to change tonight — and I promise you most Americans care more about who is on their basketball team than who is on their Supreme Court.

Is there a legal angle to the free-agent frenzy that’s about to kick off? Not really, but let’s pretend that there is. A month ago, Dwyane Wade said that he and other top free agents would be “having a meeting” to discuss their options — and this made a lot of people wonder if such a meeting (and any decisions coming out of such a meeting) would be tantamount to collusion and a violation of the Sherman Act. From ESPN:

But make no mistake: When Wade talks about sitting down with LeBron James and Joe Johnson (and perhaps Chris Bosh) to discuss free agency and where each of them will wind up playing, he is absolutely suggesting that a tiny handful of elite players could conspire — that’s the familiar use of the word, not the legal — to determine the future direction of the league.

Will Wade and LeBron engage in illegal price-fixing? If they end up in New York together, will I care? Let’s talk free agency and the law….

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It’s one of life’s great unanswered questions: Is cheerleading a sport? Soon a federal judge in Connecticut will make a ruling in a Title IX case that may help solve this age-old mystery. From the New Haven Register:

It is unclear whether federal judge Stefan R. Underhill will offer an opinion on whether competitive cheerleading is a viable varsity sport or not. But, Underhill will have to decide whether Quinnipiac University can truly count it as one in his decision in the case of the women’s volleyball team against the school.

The two sides of the lawsuit brought before the U.S. District Court by the American Civil Liberties Union to determine if Quinnipiac violated Title IX parameters debated the merits of competitive cheerleading for much of Tuesday’s session, the second day of testimony.

Says the (male) tipster who sent this along:

I’d love to work on this trial… the exhibits could be great.

One of the cheerleading experts for the volleyball plaintiffs offered a spirited argument against cheerleading as a sport, comparing it to chess.

Please. Could Bobby Fischer do what those women above are doing for the Indians?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Three Cheers for Designating Cheerleading a Sport?”

Toreador, En garde ... Et songe bien, oui, songe en combattant Qu'un oeil noir te regarde!

In America, nonperformance on a contract usually involves a failure to deliver goods or a failure to pay. In Mexico, apparently contract law covers a failure of courage. The ABA Journal reports:

Gored by a bull in a previous match several months ago, Mexican bullfighter Christian Hernandez lost his nerve and bolted from the ring ahead of a charging bull on Sunday, dropping his cape along the way…

But his escape from the charging animal left him vulnerable to legal action.

After his inglorious exit from the ring, Hernandez was arrested for breach of contract, jailed, and ordered to pay a fine.

And yes, there’s video…

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We’ve lost every objection so far. Maybe we can win this one.

– Chicago defense attorney Marc Martin, after asking Judge Joan Lefkow to delay the next day’s trial start so that jurors could stay up late watching the Blackhawks (w)in the Stanley Cup game Wednesday night.

Last night, I was momentarily distracted from watching the Mets blow another Johan Santana start by the game between the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians. As most sports fans already know, Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga threw a perfect game last night — only he didn’t get credit for it, because umpire Jim Joyce blew the call on the 27th and final out. Joyce called Indians featherweight hitter Jason Donald safe at first. Replays later showed conclusively that Donald was out.

This morning, the sports world is buzzing about what (if anything) can be done about this terrible miscarriage of justice. The legal world is buzzing too. Baseball and the law work so perfectly together because they are both rules-oriented systems where the rules are designed to promote justice and fair play. People care deeply about the rules of law, and the rules of baseball, so it’s really not that surprising to see lawyers weigh in about Galarraga’s should-have-been perfect game.

The WSJ Law Blog did a good job of collecting some of the reaction to Joyce’s blown call. Most of the talk centers around forcing the resistant-to-change game of baseball to adopt instant replay.

But there are other rules-oriented ways to handle the situation. An Above the Law reader has started a Facebook petition to get Major League Baseball to adopt “The Galarraga Rule” …

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Free Legal Advice For Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig”

Above the Law has regularly blogged about why the National Football League should not be treated as a single entity under Section 1 of the Sherman Act. See here, here, and here.

Today the Supreme Court agreed, ruling 9-0 to overturn the Seventh Circuit’s ruling in American Needle v. Nat’l Football League , in which the Seventh Circuit had held the NFL clubs sometimes exempt from Section 1 review.

In a concise, 23-page opinion (PDF), the Supreme Court explained that the NFL is not a single entity because “the NFL teams do not possess either the unitary decisionmaking quality or the single aggregation of economic power characteristic of independent action.”

This case will now be remanded to the Northern District of Illinois for further discovery and then review of its antitrust merits under the Rule of Reason. (More detailed discussions of the issues on remand are available here and here).

Additional analysis and background, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sports and the Law: Supreme Court Rules the NFL Is Not a Single Entity”

We’ve written before about how cheerleading for football teams is a possible career for J.D.s, but what about coaching football teams? A Detroit Lions assistant secondary coach, Daron Roberts, has done just that. The Harvard Law graduate and former Biglaw attorney is coaching in the NFL, notwithstanding the fact that he had no prior coaching experience before he left Biglaw behind. ESPN the Magazine reports:

Roberts got the bug when he tagged along with a friend who was working as a counselor at Steve Spurrier’s prep camp in South Carolina. He had long been a gridiron fanatic; in high school, he spent twice as many hours at football practice as he did studying. But working at Spurrier’s camp, he began to entertain thoughts of becoming the next Jon Gruden (whose book, Do You Love Football?!, was a big hit with Roberts). Something inside the law student changed during those three days. “The best part was sitting with the campers at night,” Roberts says. “Our talks would switch from zone technique to girlfriends. That’s when I realized football is the most powerful conduit for reaching young men in America, and that I had to be a coach.”

You’ll forgive me if I feel a little kindred connection with Roberts. Here’s a guy who had a law degree and a high-paying job and gave it up to pursue something he truly loved. His story is further proof that you can break out of the Biglaw box, if you want it badly enough…

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On Wednesday, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger became the first NFL player never charged or convicted of any crime to be suspended  under the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.  According to Commissioner Roger Goodell, the decision to suspend Roethlisberger was the result of  “some bad decisions” that Roethlisberger made in recent weeks, which emerged during the Georgia police’s investigation of him for sexual assault.

Allegations of sexual assault are not to be taken lightly.  However, not all such allegations are true.  See, e.g., the Duke Lacrosse scandal.  And whether Roger Goodell even has the power to suspend a player where no criminal wrongdoing is found is questionable. The issue depends entirely upon how one interprets a few important clauses in the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sports and the Law: Will Ben Roethlisberger’s NFL Suspension Stand?”

Because softball isn't gay enough already.The reader who brought this item to our attention opined: “This is a pretty crazy lawsuit. Not enough gay people in San Francisco to field a softball team? That’s a first.”

Strange, but apparently true. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

All Steven Apilado, LaRon Charles and Jon Russ wanted to do was to win the championship game at the Gay Softball World Series for their amateur San Francisco team.

Instead, they were marched one by one into a conference room at the tournament in suburban Seattle and asked about their “private sexual attractions and desires,” and their team was stripped of its second-place finish after the men were determined to be “non-gay,” they said in a lawsuit accusing a national gay sports organization of discrimination.

Although it’s not as extreme as hooking up the electrodes, asking a guy about his “private sexual attractions” to determine whether or not he’s gay seems a bit… invasive. Why not just ask how many times a day he moisturizes, or whether anything in his closet is purple?

Okay, let’s take a step back. We can ask the same question here as we can with respect to Supreme Court nominees: Does sexual orientation matter?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Playing for the Wrong Team?”

It has been a sports heavy day here on ATL, and in its own way this story is much more interesting than a coincidental intersection of legal issues and sports themes. You see, it’s a sad day in your life when you realize that your parents misled you into pursuing higher education. Sure, education is the “silver bullet” for upward mobility in this society, unless you can hit a curveball or a jump shot. If you’ve got athletic talent, you can often go to school for free (instead of saddling yourself with undergraduate debt). If you have rare talent, you can make far more money than most doctors or lawyers you know.

And even if you never make it to the pros, you can earn a living for a time slumming around the minors or coaching sports. If that lifestyle doesn’t suit you, then you can go back to professional school. Hey, at least you took your shot. It’s not like first year torts is going anywhere.

One Kansas Law student appears to have learned that anti-intellectual lesson a little bit too late. Check out his hilarious letter to the editor posted in the Kansas Law Free Press

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