Sports Law Roundup – 6/2/2017

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I used to write the sports technology roundup at TechGraphs, an internet website that died, and now I am writing the sports law roundup at ALDLAND, an internet website.

After a week off, this feature returns with the top sports-related legal stories from the past week:

  • Penn State child abuse: All three of the former Penn State University administrators charged in connection with the Jerry Sandusky sexual assault scandal inside the university’s football program will spend time in jail. In March, former PSU vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley pleaded guilty to one count each of endangering the welfare of children, leaving former school president Graham Spanier as the sole defendant in the case facing a trial on charges of child endangerment and conspiracy. A jury subsequently convicted Spanier of a single misdemeanor count of child endangerment. Curley and Schultz each received sentences of a maximum of twenty-three months in jail. Curley will serve three of those months in jail and Schultz will serve two months, with each completing the remainder of his sentence in house arrest. Spanier was sentenced to a maximum of twelve months in jail and will serve two, with the remainder in house arrest, and still indicates he intends to appeal.
  • Cheerleader wages: The judge overseeing the proposed antitrust class action lawsuit brought by a former San Francisco 49ers cheerleader known in the context of the case as Kelsey K. in connection with alleged wage-suppression tactics has dismissed the case, although he is allowing the plaintiff’s attorneys until June 15 to attempt to amend the complaint. In February, the judge denied the lead plaintiff’s request to proceed with the case under the “Jane Doe” pseudonym, though he did permit her to use only her first name and last initial.
  • NASCAR pit crew: A judge denied the majority of two competing summary judgment motions and will allow a wrongful termination case by a former NASCAR pit crew member to proceed against his former employer, Michael Waltrip Racing (“MWR”). The plaintiff, Brandon Hopkins, injured his shoulder when a racecar hit him during a race. Treatment from MWR’s training staff was ineffective, and surgery was necessary. Surgery was delayed for reasons the parties dispute, however. Days before the scheduled surgery, Hopkins met with a supervisor, who assured Hopkins his job was safe. When Hopkins left the office to go home, he brought a particular tool– the design of which MWR considered confidential– with him, which, he said, was an accident. MWR did not believe Hopkins’ story and fired him the next day. Office security camera footage also showed Hopkins removing what may have been confidential documents from the office two days prior. The judge determined that there were sufficient facts that a jury could determine that Hopkins’ firing was connected to his injury, an impermissible basis for termination, or his misappropriation of confidential company information, which would be a permissible basis.
  • NBA fan assault: In February, Charles Oakley, a former member of the New York Knicks, was arrested and charged with assault after an argument with Knicks owner James Dolan during a game at Madison Square Garden. Now, Oakley has declined a prosecutor’s offer to drop the charges and requested that the matter be resolved in a trial, which Dolan likely views as a vehicle for unwanted public attention on himself.

Sports court is in recess.

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Sports Law Roundup – 2/24/2017

aslr

I used to write the sports technology roundup at TechGraphs, an internet website that died, and now I am writing the sports law roundup at ALDLAND, an internet website.

Here are the top sports-related legal stories from the past week:

  • Gymnast abuse: The Michigan Attorney General has charged a doctor with ties to USA Gymnastics, the national governing body for gymnastics in the United States; Michigan State University; and a gym in the Lansing area, who already is facing multiple civil and criminal accusations of improper sexual conduct, with twenty-two additional criminal counts in connection with his alleged sexual abuse of young female athletes. USA Gymnastics and Michigan State terminated their relationships with the doctor following the earlier accusations. Some of the new charges involve victims who were younger than thirteen at the times of the alleged acts, and all of the charges are felonies that carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
  • Cheerleader wages: The judge overseeing the proposed class-action lawsuit filed last month by a former San Francisco 49ers cheerleader, who alleges that the NFL and the twenty-six NFL teams that have cheerleaders conspired to suppress cheerleader wages below market value, has denied the lead plaintiff’s request that she be permitted to use a pseudonym (“Jane Doe”) for purposes of her participation in the lawsuit. Rejecting the plaintiff’s argument that revealing her name would subject her to harassment, injury or embarrassment, the judge found that the plaintiff failed to cite specific threats of harm to her personally. He is allowing her to identify herself only by her first and last initials “for the time being,” however.
  • Penn State child abuse: Earlier this month, a court ruled that three former Penn State University administrators will face criminal child endangerment charges stemming from the Jerry Sandusky sexual assault scandal inside the university’s football program. Last week, the three defendants asked for an immediate appeal of the ruling that they must face trial, which remains scheduled for next month. Now, the judge has granted the prosecutor’s request to add a conspiracy charge to the list of criminal counts pending against the defendants, whose appeal request remains unaddressed by the court.

Sports court is in recess.

Sports Law Roundup – 2/3/2017

aslr

I used to write the sports technology roundup at TechGraphs, an internet website that died, and now I am writing the sports law roundup at ALDLAND, an internet website.

After a week off to attend a fancy law conference, we’re back with the top sports-related legal stories from the past week or so:

  • Baylor sexual assault: The scope of the sexual assault scandal at Baylor University continues to expand. Last week, a former Baylor student sued the university because, she alleged, she was the victim of a group rape committed by two football players in 2013 that the school ignored. The plaintiff also alleged that football players were responsible for numerous other crimes “involving violent physical assault, armed robbery, burglary, drugs, guns, and, notably, the most widespread culture of sexual violence and abuse of women ever reported in a collegiate athletic program.” She further claims that, between 2011 and 2014, thirty-one Baylor football players committed a total of fifty-two rapes, including five gang rapes. The complaint makes out claims under Title IX and common-law negligence theories. One significant hurdle for the plaintiff is that both types of claims are subject to two-year statutes of limitations. Since her alleged rape occurred in 2013, the university is likely to seek a dismissal on that basis.
  • College football defamation: In more Baylor football news, former head coach Art Briles now has dropped the defamation lawsuit he filed just two months ago against three Baylor regents and the university’s senior vice president and CEO for their statements that Briles was aware of sex crimes reportedly committed by his players and failed to provide that information to proper authorities, among other claims. As of this writing, no one has made an official comment on Briles’ behalf explaining the dismissal, but it appears to be connected to documents some of the same defendants in the Briles case filed in a new defamation case brought this week by former Baylor football director of operations Colin Shillinglaw. Those documents supposedly demonstrate Briles’ awareness of and attempts to cover up his players’ wrongdoing. If you’re the TMZ type, you can read more about the contents of the alleged Briles communications here.
  • Wrestling ban: Iran has announced that it will not allow the American wrestling team to compete in the 2017 Freestyle World Cup, which the Iranian city of Kermanshah is hosting this month. The ban comes as a form of retaliation for President Donald Trump’s January 27 executive order temporarily blocking people from entering the United States from Iran and six other majority-Muslim countries.
  • Football head injuries: A state court judge in New York denied the NFL’s motion to dismiss a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by the son of deceased player Arthur DeCarlo Sr., who, his son alleges, died as a result of CTE he contracted from head injuries sustained while playing football. This is the only CTE case against the NFL that is outside of the federal multidistrict settlement based in a Pennsylvania federal court. Addressing a statute-of-limitations issue, the New York judge likened the case to asbestos claims by describing CTE as a latent condition, the manifestation of which is not discoverable until the completion of a posthumous autopsy. Meanwhile, on Monday, a group of former college football players filed suit against helmet manufacturer Riddell seeking class-action status and alleging that Riddell made false claims about its helmet’s ability to protect against concussions. This is the fifth active concussion-related lawsuit pending against Riddell.
  • Cheerleader wages: A former San Francisco 49ers cheerleader filed a complaint against the NFL and the twenty-six NFL teams that have cheerleaders, alleging that they conspired to suppress cheerleader wages (which are between $1,000 and $1,500 per year, according to the complaint) below market value. The unnamed plaintiff is seeking to represent a class of all NFL cheerleaders employed in the past four years.
  • Child abuse: Three former Penn State University administrators will face criminal child endangerment charges stemming from the Jerry Sandusky sexual assault scandal inside the university’s football program. PSU’s former president, senior vice president, and athletic director were successful in quashing charges of failing to report child sexual abuse, but their trials on the remaining charge will go forward next month.
  • Student-athlete rights: The general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board issued an official memorandum stating that football players at Division I FBS schools “are employees under the [National Labor Relations Act], with the rights and protections of that act.” The precise legal consequences of this memorandum are unclear, at least to this writer, but the practical consequences likely will include an increase in unionization attempts and unfair labor practice filings among student-athletes at the covered schools. The memorandum already has generated critical comments from some members of Congress who believe it would have “devastating consequences for students and academic institutions[,] puts the interests of union leaders over America’s students, and . . . has the potential to create significant confusion at college campuses across the nation.”
  • Baseball hacking: As punishment for their hacking of the Houston Astros’ database, MLB fined the St. Louis Cardinals $2 million and forced them to forfeit two 2017 draft picks (the fifty-sixth and seventy-fifth overall picks) to the Astros. In addition, the league banned the currently jailed St. Louis employee who hacked the Houston system multiple times from future MLB employment. Most commentators and team officials regard the sanction as a light one.
  • Daily Fantasy Sports: The European island nation of Malta has granted daily fantasy sports website DraftKings a license to operate in that country, and that license may allow the site to operate in other European jurisdictions that recognize the Maltese license as well.
  • Live game streaming: MSG has entered into an agreement with the NHL to broadcast the four New York and New Jersey hockey teams (Sabres, Rangers, Islanders, and Devils) on the network’s live streaming service, MSG GO, which is available for free to MSG subscribers. Meanwhile, another New-York-area network, SNY, will begin streaming Mets games on its own website and the NBC Sports app. (NBC previously reached a streaming agreement with MLB Advanced Media for in-market access to Cubs, White Sox, Phillies, Athletics, and Giants games starting this year.)

Sports court is in recess.

Evidence that Chip Kelly definitely reads ALDLAND?

Last week, physguy highlighted a situation that can occur toward the end of each half of a football game: if the offense is driving and runs a pass play with time winding down, the defense’s best response often is to commit aggressive pass interference in order to eat the dwindling clock and avoid a touchdown. While he imposed a rule change to counter this defensive incentive, Roger Goodell and co. had not implemented it in time for this week’s games, and San Francisco head coach Chip Kelly, almost certainly having read our site last week, took advantage against the Saints on Sunday:

It can’t be more clear than that. As physguy wrote to me after seeing this play, “This Saints example . . . clearly shows that it needs to be addressed. My rule change makes it so that the defense can only force a FG by beating the offense fair and square.”

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Previously
Disincentivizing Defensive Penalties in College Football: Ten-Second Runon

Related
Catching Fire: Is Brad Ausmus Evolving? Or, Evidence that Brad Ausmus Definitely Reads ALDLAND

Belated welcome to the 2016 NFL season

We probably aren’t going to have weekly wrapups this season, but I am kicking myself for forgetting to post this 2016 NFL season introduction. Even though Week 1’s already in the books (go Lions), this is too good not to share:

Continue reading

Roddy White TV

Roddy White jumped on the twitter horn Sunday morning to share his reactionary thoughts to the weird thing happening where San Francisco’s Aldon Smith was going to play despite having been arrested for DUI a few days prior. In particular, White didn’t like the way the pregame shows were covering the story:

The pregame shows didn’t like White’s tweets, unsurprisingly, and the message was that White, who has a history of tweeting sometimes cringe-worthy messages (telling the jurors in the George Zimmerman case to “kill themselves” being probably the most egregious example), should be quiet and focus on the game ahead.

While I can’t endorse White’s offseason tweet about the Zimmerman jurors, I think Roddy is thinking about the game ahead when posting tweets he knows will draw national attention to him during the season.

White is the ostensible “number one receiver” on the Falcons. True, Julio Jones would be the “number one receiver” on many other NFL teams, and Old Tony Gonzales and Harry Douglas aren’t bad options either. There’s a reason we refer to a team’s “receiving corps,” however: they function as a unit. The arithmetic of the game generally allows defenses to shut down the passing attack of a team with only one good passing option. (This fact makes Calvin Johnson’s accomplishments in Detroit all the more impressive.)

The important fact here is that White is playing with a high ankle sprain that appears to be significantly limiting him during games. He continues to play, though, because as the team’s ostensible “number one receiver,” he will draw defenders away from Jones, Gonzales, and Douglas. White’s decoy role is even more important following the injury to running back Steven Jackson.

White’s effectiveness as a decoy depends, in some part, on the extent to which he is on the minds of defensive coaches and players as they prepare for and play games against the Falcons. Within reason, anything White can do to draw attention to himself– even just keeping his name, but not his injury, of course, in the news– should result in some benefit to his team. That may be the reason his team has never (publicly) reprimanded him for his outspoken ways.

Tuesday Afternoon Inside Linebacker

tailALDLAND’s weekly football roundup is back following week three of college football and week two of the NFL.

College Football

Pregame:

  • I caught snippets of ESPN College Gameday and Fox Sports 1’s college football pregame shows. Gameday remains the leader of the pack, but I’d like more time to see how FS1’s show develops. In the meantime, I’ll join FS1’s Joel Klatt in sending good wishes to the folks in Colorado dealing with major flooding right now.

The games — excitement building:

  • With a couple East Carolina fans in town, we watched the Pirates hang with Virginia Tech for about three quarters. The Hokies did all they could, including badly missing a bunch of close kicks, to hand ECU the game. Frank Beamer looked like he wanted to puke, but his team managed to hold it together in the end. Virginia Tech 15, East Carolina 10.
  • We were flipping between that game and UCLA-Nebraska. When I first checked in on this one, Nebraska had a 21-3 lead, and it looked like the best early game of the day would not materialize into a competitive affair. That turned out to be sort of true, but not in the way I expected. UCLA scored thirty-eight unanswered points to beat the now-mythological blackshirt defense in Lincoln 41-21.
  • The game of the day belonged to Alabama and Texas A&M, and it lived up to the hype. Johnny Manziel and the Aggies started very hot, jumping out to a 14-0 lead and choking the Tide’s early drives. A&M scored touchdowns on its first two drives, which averaged 71.5 yards and 2:06 off the clock. Alabama responded, though, methodically amassing thirty-five temporarily unanswered points and carried a 42-21 lead into the fourth quarter. The Aggie defense had yielded to The System, but Manziel wasn’t through, although twenty-one fourth-quarter points wouldn’t be enough to top Alabama. The Crimson Tide remain undefeated, winning 49-42, but Manziel unequivocally proved that he is must-see football every time he plays, and his cohort, receiver Mike Evans, deserves some credit too.     Continue reading

The NFL’s disorderly priorities in one image

We already know that the NFL has some twisted priorities, but this image from last night’s 49ers-Seahawks game offers a convenient visual perspective:

There was a penalty called on this play, thankfully. Can you find it? If you guessed that it has something to do with the concussed guy face-down on the turf, you would be wrong. Seattle receiver Sidney Rice was flagged for celebrating his catch by spinning the ball on the ground. The penalty made it as though the play never happened, which is probably what San Francisco defender Eric Reid thinks.

If league policy continues to develop along its current trajectory, there soon may be very little to celebrate about this game.

Super Bowl XLVII Recap: Where do you go when the lights go out?

Everyone saw the game and it was a few days ago, so here are just a few points to put a wrap on this sports year*:

  • On that (historical) topic, I’ve been critical of Beyoncé in the recent past, but I thought her performance at halftime was just right for this setting. A no-holds-barred pop experience by one of the top musical celebrities of the day is what the Super Bowl halftime show should be.
  • (On that note, I finally saw the infamous Janet Jackson performance for the first time this week, and there is no possible way that wasn’t an intentional move by Justin Timberlake. How did he get away with that?!)
  • As for the no-call on the fourth-and-goal pass to Michael Crabtree:
    1. Based on where the ball landed, I think the pass was uncatchable, so the no-call is correct.
    2. For what it’s worth, Mike Pereira agrees with me, though for a different reason.
    3. There’s something sort of ironic about the 49ers complaining about a lack of a pass-interference call on the last play of a playoff game, or at least Falcons fans think so.
    4. If you really want to Zapruder the thing, click here and have your heart contented.
  • Also for Crabtree, he intercepted Colin Kaepernick’s first-half touchdown pass to a wide-open Randy Moss, so he probably should include that play in his analysis of the game.
  • Penalties, early and late in the game, really are what doomed San Francisco.
  • I think it’s fair to ask whether we should’ve seen Alex Smith in the game at some point.
  • Who told you about Frank Gore?
  • Who told you before kickoff the Ravens would win?

Thanks for tuning into our Super Bowl coverage. Onward.

*It really feels like the “sports year” ought to run from Super Bowl to Super Bowl, so we’re going to treat it that way around here. I’m not really sure what we’ll touch on between now and the Daytona 500, but there are a few items in the pipeline, so don’t worry. The slowest sports day of the year doesn’t come until July anyway.

Final Super Bowl XLVII Notes: The Baltimore Ravens will win

How do I know the Ravens will win? Read on…

Len Dawson, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, after losing Super Bowl I

Len Dawson, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, after losing Super Bowl I

First, the important details: Kickoff is at 6:30 pm, according to the NFL. CBS has the television and online broadcast rights, and Dial Global will have the radio broadcast. In reality, I have no idea if 6:30 represents kickoff, or just “kickoff,” and the real thing won’t happen until 7:00. I guess we’ll all find out together.

Second, before you read further, remember that if enough of you sign this petition, you don’t have to go to work tomorrow.

Third, I think our Super Bowl preview coverage over the last two weeks has been pretty good. Some highlights while you wait for “kickoff”:

Fourth, assuming you’ve covered that ground already, the best of the rest of the web:

  • When the final score doesn’t matter: How prop bets changed the way we gamble on the Super Bowl – You’ve done well to hang in this far into the post, degenerates. The prop bets themselves aren’t shocking or even chuckle-inducing anymore, but this history of how they came to be is an interesting read. (Hint: the house wins.)
  • The Best Super Bowl Documentary You’ve Never Seen – Ok, I get it. You’re ready to stop reading and watch TV. Instead of another hour of CBS’s refried game preview, this documentary is what you need. In 1976, the Bicentennial, a group of kids– including Bill Murray, Christopher Guest (aka Nigel Tufnel), and Harold Ramis (aka The Comic Genius Who Defined A Generation) took some of the first portable video cameras and had unprecedented (then or now) access to the players, fans, and everything else surrounding Super Bowl X. Lynn Swann, Johnny Unitas, and Bob Irsay all are there, among many others. It’s available at that link in four brief Youtube videos, and it’s one of the best sports things I’ve seen in recent memory.
  • Beyond Legend: Stories paint picture of real Randy Moss – A couple gems in here. Bill Murray-esque in some respects. (HT: Laura)

Fifth, as promised, your guaranteed winner tonight is the Baltimore Ravens. I admitted I’ll be cheering for San Francisco, but I have it on the best authority that the streets of Baltimore will be the ones to host a Super Bowl victory parade this year. You can read the full explanation here, but the short story is this logical truth: Norm Macdonald has a lifelong sports gambling problem; when he bets, he rarely wins; when he isn’t gambling, however, he can’t miss; he is gambling on these NFL playoffs, including the Super Bowl; a friend uncovered Norm’s early season, pre-return-to-gambling pick; by its untainted nature, that pick will be correct; that pick was Baltimore to win the Super Bowl. Unassailable. If you take it to the bank, be sure to break off part of your winnings for Norm (and me).

Enjoy the Super Bowl, everybody! Thanks for spending some of your pregame time with ALDLAND. Follow us @ALDLANDia for withering insight during the game.