The Law of Professional SportsClass Term:
Fall Term 2020-2021Catalog Number:
2 (2 Contact, 0 Field)Priority:
Limited Enrollment - 3rd Year PriorityFull Year Course:
The course will use a mix of traditional case law, significant decisions decided by arbitrators, the instructor and his guest speakers’ practical experiences, and current sports law issues taken from the sports and sports business pages. It is my plan to utilize a mix of lecturing, personal experiences and hypothetical questions drawn from current pending cases and/or issues, with the goal of stimulating class discussion and interaction. I also hope to have 3 to 4 guest speakers on some of the above topics to discuss their experiences and answer questions. I also hope to create debate in the class by taking a particular topic and assigning portions of the class to one side and portions to the other side.
The student’s grade will be based on class participation and a final research paper. Class participation will account for 20% of the grade and will be measured based on a number of criteria, including: the quality (not quantity) of the students remarks in class; the professionalism the student exhibits in class, that is, does he/she think and speak like a lawyer and is he/she respectful of opposing points of view; and the level of preparation exhibited by the remarks, that is, do the remarks indicate the student has read the materials or even gone beyond the materials to secondary sources. As for the final research paper, which will account for 80% of the student’s grade, the paper will be in the form of a memorandum to a Club’s General Counsel on a current issue that relates to one of the topics covered in class. The memo will not exceed 10 pages, single spaced (double spaced between paragraphs). I will provide 6-8 topics that the students can choose from for their memo. Students will also be given the option of choosing their own topic so long as they submit that topic to me for my approval at least 1 week prior to the last scheduled class. Papers written for this course cannot be used to satisfy the upper-level writing requirement.
Focusing on the 4 major professional sports leagues, this course will examine how the common law, state and federal statutes, and even certain constitutional doctrines have been applied to professional sports franchises, its players and agents, and its fans. The topics for discussion will include: the role and power of the Commissioner; the importance of collective bargaining agreements, including Uniform Player Contracts, in the development of a body of law governing the relationship between a player and his Club; the current state of antitrust law in pro sports; the agent-player relationship; contract negotiations, including the salary arbitration process; the variety of intellectual property issues applicable to leagues, it teams and its players; the rights (or lack thereof) of pro sports fans, including the application of tort law principles to fan injuries; the attempts by pro-sports leagues and teams to control the off-field behavior of its players, and the approaches by the various leagues to regulate performance enhancing drugs.