Sports Law Roundup – 11/3/2017

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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.

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

  • Soccer relocation: Citing a duty to taxpayers, a judge in San Antonio is calling for a criminal investigation of the Columbus Crew’s announced proposal to move the team to Austin. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff had been involved in San Antonio’s attempt to secure an MLS franchise, which includes a joint purchase by the city and county governments of an $18 million soccer stadium. According to Wolff, Mark Abbott, the head of MLS, was supportive of San Antonio’s campaign for an expansion franchise in 2015 and said that MLS would not place teams in both San Antonio and Austin. Wolff has asked the Bexar County district attorney to investigate the situation.
  • NFL hiring collusion: Last month, free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick filed a labor grievance with the NFL alleging that the league’s member teams are colluding to keep him out of a job because of his leading role in player protests during the National Anthem. According to a report this afternoon, team owners Jerry Jones (Cowboys), Robert Kraft (Patriots), and Bob McNair (Texans) will be called to answer questions under oath about Kaepernick’s claims and disclose their cellular telephone records. According to the report, “others owners, teams and league officials also will be deposed, but those individuals have been confirmed for now.”
  • NASCAR pit crew: In June, a judge allowed a wrongful termination case by Brandon Hopkins, a former NASCAR pit crew member to proceed against his former employer, Michael Waltrip Racing. Hopkins injured his shoulder when a race car 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. The parties now have settled the case on undisclosed terms.
  • Daily fantasy sports: On Monday, Pennsylvania legalized daily fantasy sports, and Connecticut took similar steps on Tuesday. Pennsylvania will impose a fifteen-percent tax on operator revenue and other licensing requirements and makes it easier for that state to legalize traditional sports betting. The Connecticut policy, which includes a 10.5-percent tax on operators’ gross revenue, requires amendments to the state’s agreements with the two Indian tribes that operate the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun Casinos and will become effective only after those tribes approve the amendments.

Sports court is in recess.

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Sports Law Roundup – 10/20/2017

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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.

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

  • Penn State child abuse: A court has denied the request of Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State University assistant football coach who sexually abused children, for a new trial. Sandusky contends his conviction on those charges was wrongful due to the claimed inadequacy of his legal representation at trial and the prosecutor’s failure to disclose potentially exculpatory information.
  • NFL hiring collusion: Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick has filed a labor grievance with the NFL alleging that the league’s member teams are colluding to keep him out of a job because of his leading role in player protests during the National Anthem. Kaepernick identifies President Donald Trump as a significant actor whose public statements condemning protesting players motivated the owners’ decision. Kaepernick faces an uphill legal climb, though, because circumstantial evidence– the observable fact that no team has hired him despite his track record and apparent needs at his position– is insufficient to prove collusion. Under the collective bargaining agreement, “no club, its employees or agents shall enter into any agreement, express or implied, with the NFL or any other club, its employees or agents to restrict or limit” a team from negotiating or contracting with a free-agent player. To make his case, Kaepernick will need to demonstrate that the owners, together and not independently, made an affirmative decision not to employ him, or that the NFL itself directed or encouraged teams to take that position. Depending upon how this matter evolves, however, the stakes for the league and union could be high, as, under certain circumstances, proof of collusion could terminate the CBA.
  • Wrigleyville: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has denied a request for rehearing filed by owners of Wrigley Field-area owners of rooftop restaurants and bars who claimed the Chicago Cubs violated an agreement to prevent the obstruction of field views from the neighboring rooftop establishments when the team included a new, large, outfield video board in its updates to Wrigley Field. The court offered no explanation for its decision to reject the petition for a rehearing of its prior judgment that the agreement itself and MLB’s antitrust exemption barred the neighbors’ claims.
  • North Carolina academics: After spending more than six years investigating the University of North Carolina for academic fraud, the NCAA issued a final ruling subjecting the school to minimal sanctions that do not affect any of UNC’s athletic programs, a decision that, according to Mark Titus, “should come as no surprise.”

Sports court is in recess.

ALDLAND Podcast

ALDLAND is back on the podcast track after a month-long break. Holidays kept us down, but they could not keep us away forever, and so we are back to talk NFL playoffs and NFL coaching changes. Expect podcasts to be more weekly from now on.

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Download the ALDLAND podcast at our Podcasts Page or stream it right here:

Tuesday Afternoon Inside Linebacker

tailSince “Monday Morning Quarterback” and “Tuesday Morning Quarterback” are taken and uninspired, and because I’m preempting my own exhaustion of “Monday“-themed alliterations, ALDLAND’s regular football/weekend roundup will move to Tuesday afternoons, which also permits incorporation of the Monday night NFL game. With week two of college football and week one of the NFL in the books, here goes:

College Football

Pregame:

  • Brendan and Physguy were in Ann Arbor for ESPN College Gameday, and the only evidence is a couple cryptic tweets from Brendan.

The games — No surprises:

  • I was able to find Michigan State’s game against South Florida on television in the Southeast, which may be thanks to USF’s participation in the game, but which also felt like finding a unicorn in the wild. MSU’s defense continues to outscore their offense, and that’s with three quarterbacks! Even Sparta only ever had two kings at once. Michigan State 21, South Florida 6.
  • I also found Vanderbilt-Austin Peay on TV, which is a reminder that it’s week two for the broadcasters as well. VU had no problem with its Middle Tennessee neighbors, winning 38-3.

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.

NFC Champtionship notes

The San Francisco 49ers meet the Atlanta Falcons this afternoon in the Georgia Dome to play for the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl in New Orleans. Hidden between the media’s heavy stereotyping of this matchup are a few nice preview pieces that actually track pretty well those for last week‘s game, as well as my prediction for this afternoon’s outcome:    Keep reading…

Stereotyping the NFC Championship Game

kaeprnick si coverThe San Francisco 49ers are back in the NFC Championship Game again this year, where they’ll be facing the Atlanta Falcons instead of the New York Giants, and they’ll be doing it with young go-hard Colin Kaepernick instead of old can’t-catch-a-break Alex Smith at quarterback. How is the media treating this meeting between Bay Area bohemians and members of Black Hollywood‘s elite crew?

By rushing to stereotypes, of course.

We go first to Atlanta, where you just know those FalCONS are up to no good. How did they get that way? Atlanta “like[s] players with high ‘FBI’ scores.” Because they’re criminals, you see. At least that’s what that Atlanta Journal-Constitution headline writer would make you click a link to a game-week puff piece on “football intelligence,” which no reasonable person abbreviates as “FBI.”

Let’s head out to Cali, shall we? See what’s pulled those hemp-farmers away from their crystal collections and communal energy vortex long enough to turn them into probably the best team in the NFL this season? What’s their secret? Yoga, of course! And a copy of the Dhammapada– or at least an old yearbook clipping– in every locker.

If playing to the lowest common social denominator isn’t lazy enough for you, how about a tried-and-true sports cliche? We again turn to the Falcons’ hometown paper, where we now find the Durrty Burds’ fans-of-letters grasping at straws, or other print publications, as it were. Knowing that the top seed is outmatched at home on Sunday, they’re putting their eggs in the SI Cover Curse basket, and at this point, why not? Unless it can make Kaepernick and Frank Gore disappear the way it did to the alleged girlfriend of Manti Te’o, though, I think the Falcons are going to be in a bad tangle Sunday.