Sports

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.

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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

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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

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “2L at Kansas Law Thinks NBA Draft a Safer Bet than OCI”

Let’s take a brief break from covering people leaving the Supreme Court and potential replacements, and focus on somebody who is not going anywhere any time soon. In a sports-centric interview with the Philadelphia Daily News, Justice Samuel Alito goes into some depth about his love for the game of baseball and the Philadelphia Phillies.

You know it’s a good interview if I’m covering a right-leaning Justice who likes the Phillies. It’s not easy to write with tears in your eyes. But Alito makes it worthwhile by showing us a little bit of his personal life:

On the shelves are a Phillies cap, several framed pictures depicting various Phillies players, autographed baseballs, a book on the 1950 Phillies Whiz Kids and other Phillies-related memorabilia.

Justice Alito’s work couldn’t be more serious. The decisions he participates in have an enormous impact on the country. Baseball is his escape. And the Phillies have always been his favorite team.

Well, Alito is far more respectable than the last Phillies fan who graced these pages.

We’ve noted that baseball is such a natural fit with the judicial process. Alito also gives us the scoop on the favorite teams of other SCOTUS Justices:

Unfortunately I had a bet with Justice [Sonia] Sotomayor about the outcome of the World Series. She’s a Yankees fan. Justice [Antonin] Scalia is a Yankees fan. So we had a bet, cheesesteaks vs. Nathan’s hot dogs, and I had to provide Nathan’s hot dogs.

Justice [Stephen] Breyer is a Red Sox fan and Justice [John Paul] Stevens is a Cubs fan. He claims to have been present when Babe Ruth called his shot [in the 1932 World Series] at Wrigley Field. [Smiling] Although about 200,000 people claim to have been in attendance at that game, I trust him that he actually was.

What about John “The Umpire” Roberts? Meh, he probably just roots for a well-played game.

Alito also has some thoughts on the great baseball debates on our time. What would he do if he had a Hall of Fame vote?

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Is there a Tiger Woods at your firm?

Tiger Woods is back on the green stroking it into the hole, his face no longer in the rough, for the first day of the Masters.

Beyond a flyover involving a terrible pun and controversy over Nike’s resurrection of Woods’ dead father’s voice, the first day was a smooth one. Tiger the Superstar is back.

Last weekend, Jonah Lehrer wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal about “The Superstar Effect,” suggesting that Tiger will make other golfers play worse just by showing up:

According to a paper by Jennifer Brown, an applied macroeconomist at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Mr. Woods is such a dominating golfer that his presence in a tournament can make everyone else play significantly worse. Because his competitors expect him to win, they end up losing; success becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Ms. Brown argues that the superstar effect is not just relevant on the golf course. Instead, she suggests that the presence of superstars can be “de-motivating” in a wide variety of competitions, from the sales office to the law firm.

Brown analyzed PGA Tour data from 1999 through 2006, and discovered that Woods’s presence in a tournament resulted in other golfers taking more strokes. Brown suggests that in situations where success is based on relative performance, a known superstar causes everyone else to give up and step down their game.

We thought that superstars made mediocre associates swing with malice aforethought. But Brown suggests that the “up and out model” at law firms results in great performance from the Tigers bound for partnership, and halfhearted efforts by the rest of the associates who know they’re on their way out…

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The Major League Baseball Season started last night and gets underway in earnest today. Football might be the biggest sport on the American landscape, but baseball is still America’s pastime. It’s a favorite of lawyers and judges — and according to a recent poll, baseball is the sport that draws a nearly equal percentage of liberal and conservative fans.

If you’ve actually been to a baseball game in the past decade, you know that the experience is ridiculously expensive. My first baseball game cost my dad $55 all-in (Mets/Padres, 1987, Straw hit one out). My last game cost my wife and I upwards of $200 — and we saw the pitiful Nationals in bad seats.

Duke law professor Richard Schmalbeck and Rutgers business professor Jay Soled think they know why the price of attending a baseball game has skyrocketed. They blame the tax code and the money generated from corporate ticket buyers. Have you ever gone to a game on your firm’s dime? If so, you are part of the problem …

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “It’s Opening Day: Why Can’t I Afford to Go to the Ballpark?”

We don’t do a lot of reporting on the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University. But when an 1L community gets smacked down by one of their own deans for following the best NCAA opening weekend ever, one can’t help but take note.

The set up is simple, as this tipster explains:

This “professionalism” lecture, a mandatory event for 1L’s, consisted of a very conservative attorney/judge/sheriff from Cincinnati talking about the need to return prayer and spanking to schools, and a very liberal ACLU attorney stressing the importance of pro bono representation of child molesters. Event titled “Lawyers: Agents of change, or Preservers of the status quo?” And yes, the entire class of 1L’s were playing on their iPhones during the entire event, following March Madness.

A mandatory “professionalism” lecture during the first night of the NCAA tournament? Isn’t this precisely why God invented the iPhone?

Sadly, Associate Dean Lawrence Rosenthal didn’t seem to enjoy living in our modern age … double red triangle arrows Continue reading “1Ls at Northern Kentucky Law Are Not Very Professional”

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