Sports Law Roundup – 11/18/2016

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:

  • Baseball stadium netting: On Wednesday, the trial court dismissed a lawsuit seeking increased fan-safety measures in baseball stadiums, including expanded safety netting behind dugouts and along the foul lines, based on a lack of standing. I previously wrote about this case over at TechGraphs (see here, here, and here), generally discussing the ways in which it– despite the legal weaknesses in the plaintiffs’ position– already was effecting change. Although those legal weaknesses proved to be the downfall of this suit, the court’s ruling was not without its admonitions to Major League Baseball. For example, an early footnote contains this observation: “Why Major League Baseball, knowing of the risk [foul balls pose] to children in particular, does little to highlight this risk to parents remains a mystery.” The order also expressly suggests the possibility that future litigation along these lines may be more availing in other states, where the “Baseball Rule,” which makes it very difficult for fans to recover against baseball teams and leagues, has fallen under attack: “Thus, it is conceivable that, under the right set of circumstances, a plaintiff could obtain the type of relief that plaintiffs seek here. Given the changing nature of both the baseball game experience and the injuries at issue, which are far different from those in 1914, what is a ‘reasonable expectation’ on an ‘ordinary occasion’ is not a static concept.
  • Football painkillers: Attorneys for retired NFL players in a lawsuit against the league alleging that team doctors dispensed painkillers “‘as if they were candy’ regardless of long-term effects” are seeking permission to depose team owners Jerry Jones and Jim Irsay. Outside of football, Irsay, who inherited ownership of the Indianapolis Colts from his father, is known for collecting famous guitars– including Jerry Garcia’s Tiger, Les Paul’s Black Beauty, and Prince’s Yellow Cloud— and having a history of abusing painkillers. The plaintiffs also have amended their complaint to add a RICO claim, which, among other things, introduces the potential for tripling their financial recovery in the lawsuit.
  • NCAA transfer rules: Johnnie Vassar, a former Northwestern basketball player, filed a putative class-action lawsuit against the NCAA, alleging that the rule forcing transferring students to sit out of their sport for their first year at their new school violates antitrust laws. Vassar claims that he attempted to transfer from Northwestern but was unable to do so, because all of his target schools only would accept him if he could play immediately. In recent years, Northwestern has emerged as a cradle of anti-NCAA legal activity.
  • Triathlon death: A wrongful death claim brought in connection with the drowning death of a competitor in the 2010 Philadelphia Triathlon cannot proceed, a Pennsylvania appellate court ruled, concluding that the triathlete knowingly and voluntarily assumed the risk of participating in the event when, in the course of registering for it, he executed a detailed liability waiver.
  • Cuban baseball-player smuggling: In a federal criminal case against a sports agent accused of conspiracy to smuggle Cuban baseball players into the United States, the government has listed numerous professional players, including Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Abreu, as trial witnesses. For more on this general subject, ESPN The Magazine’s feature on Yasiel Puig is a must-read.
  • Boxing fraud: The defendants– Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, HBO, Top Rank, and others– in twenty-six lawsuits alleging that they improperly concealed Pacquiao’s shoulder injury leading up to the fighters’ 2015 bout in order to boost pay-per-view sales admitted that the plaintiffs– fans and bars– had standing to pursue their claims, even as the defendants denied that those claims had any merit.
  • Gambling: West Virginia, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi and Wisconsin are asking the United States Supreme Court to review a Third Circuit decision rejecting New Jersey’s attempt to open up sports gambling in its state. The five states, together, filed an amicus brief in support of New Jersey’s cert petition (formal request that the Supreme Court allow them to appeal the Third Circuit’s ruling), arguing that the manner in which Congress has regulated sports gambling is unconstitutional and threatens the balance of power between the federal and state governments. In an unrelated story, daily fantasy leaders FanDuel and DraftKings announced a merger agreement this morning.
  • Secondary football ticket market: Under pressure from state regulators, the NFL agreed to end its league-wide imposition of a price floor on game tickets sold on the secondary market that had prevented the resale of tickets at prices below face value. The agreement does not apply to tickets for the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl, nor does it prevent teams from acting “unilaterally” to enforce price floors, meaning that the practice could continue.
  • Campus police records: The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed a trial court’s dismissal  of ESPN’s lawsuit seeking the University of Notre Dame Police Department’s incident reports involving student athletes, deciding that the ND Police Department is not a “public agency” and thus cannot be compelled to produce the requested materials under the state’s open records law.

Sports court is in recess.

The Sports Illustrated cover curse has relocated to page 34

rachel nichols si

If it feels like the force of the Sports Illustrated cover curse has waned, that’s only because the jinx has relocated to page thirty four. There, in this week’s issue, appeared SI media critic Richard Deitsch’s article, “The Case for…Rachel Nichols,” in which Deitsch praised Nichols’ recent “interrogat[ions]” of Roger Goodell and Floyd Mayweather Jr. “on her eponymous CNN show, Unguarded with Rachel Nichols. As a result,” Deitsch proclaimed in a laudatory proclamation highlighted in the featured pull quotation, “Nichols is at the moment the country’s most impactful and prominent female sports journalist.”

That may have been true “at the moment” Deitsch wrote it, but by the time many SI readers saw it, Nichols’ show had been cancelled. That’s pretty devastating all the way around, and if you’re a fan of either Mississippi State or Ole Miss football, both of which share this week’s SI cover, you may be in for a long day today.

The next Floyd Mayweather?

Yes, Floyd’s still doing his thing, although his thing seems to be less and less about boxing these days. Mayweather is thirty-five years old and still undefeated, the pound-for-pound champion of the sport, the self-proclaimed face of boxing. His mix of wealth and outspokenness keeps him relevant even as, for a variety of reasons, he fights less frequently. Juan Manuel Marquez’s knockout of Manny Pacquiao earlier this month only serves to complicate the question of whether Pacquiao and Mayweather ever will fight.

Meanwhile, Grantland has the story of Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin, a young fighter who, like Mayweather, has Grand Rapids roots, preaches a gospel of hard work and dedication, and doesn’t lose:


(Here‘s the original post.)

Alabama and Michigan in Big D

Brendan is in Dallas for this game, but he refused to preview it for ALDLAND because he didn’t “want to jinx anything like I did with Barca in the champs league,” whatever that means. The only thing I don’t want to jinx is the chance that the earth under the megastadium opens up and swallows both teams, and I don’t think a quick preview of the game will do that.

Another person who fears no jinx is Floyd Mayweather, who apparently put $3 million on Michigan to cover the fourteen-point spread. If anything could jinx an outcome, it would seem to be publicly betting $3 million on that outcome.

Operating with a far lower budget, here’s a video preview of tonight’s game:

If you’re still with me and care at this point what I think about the game, it’s that I can’t see a path to victory for Michigan. I may have a blind spot in that regard, but let’s be real: Alabama’s going to win. The only question is whether Floyd Mayweather will win too.

ALDLAND Pen Pal Project: Floyd Mayweather

Floyd Mayweather is in jail. He doesn’t want to be in jail, and he especially doesn’t want to be in solitary confinement. And even though his confinement hasn’t prevented him from winning a fourth ESPY as fighter of the year or becoming the highest paid athlete in the world (and interestingly, the only member of the top 25 on that list to get there with $0.00 in endorsements).

For Floyd, though, everything, including the money, really is all about the attention, which brings us to the tweet that showed up on his account this week:

Perhaps we, the writers and readers of ALDLAND, should collaborate to send Floyd a letter. Please add your contribution in the comment section, below.

Floyd Mayweather dodges Miguel Cotto’s fists, strip clubs to remain undefeated

After the ponies did their thing on Saturday, it was time for Cinco de Mayweather (plan B), a bout between the undefeated Floyd Mayweather and the then-twice-defeated Miguel Cotto for the latter’s 154-pound belt. The fight went the distance, and at the end of the twelfth round, the judges unanimously declared Mayweather the winner.

I can’t say I disagree with that determination, and it’s the one for which I was rooting, but I thought it was a very close fight, as my live round-by-round evaluation, reproduced below, evidences. The HBO announcers, by contrast, were confident that Mayweather was winning fairly early on and had the thing sewed up by the late rounds.

My general impression was that Cotto, the heavier puncher with the shorter reach, was able to dictate the terms of the fight: close range, with Mayweather backed into a corner or on the ropes. Even if Floyd simply was allowing this to happen, it surprised me, and I didn’t understand why he let it go on for so long. On the other hand, none of Cotto’s hits, including the one that broke Floyd’s nose, seemed to faze Mayweather, and it was Cotto who was staggering a bit in the 12th, not Mayweather. Cotto provided the toughest test for Mayweather of all the opponents I’ve seen.

Some saw it as Mayweather making like Jalen Rose and giving the people what they want, while others simply credited Mayweather’s endurance as a result of a training regimen that began when he opted for a 3:00 am six-mile run instead of a strip club visit in Orlando during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend. Whatever the reason, Mayweather heads into his eighty-seven-day jail sentence on a winning streak.

Round-by-round analysis after the jump…

Cinco de MayNo

Old news by this point, but the announcement came on Wednesday that Floyd Mayweather’s May 5 opponent would be Miguel Cotto, not Manny Pacquiao, as some had hoped and anticipated. Mayweather had been making public (twitter) and private (telephone) ovations to Pacquiao this year (a bit of a role reversal, at least as far as casual public perception was concerned), but the fight of the century will not come to pass, at least as far as 2012 is concerned. Reports have been sketchy as to why the top two fighters won’t be in the ring together in Las Vegas on 5/5/12, some briefly mentioning “an impasse in talks.” while others suggesting there was a lack of agreement over how to divide the pay-per-view money. Mayweather made his own view of the situation known:

My interpretation of the apparent lack of media probing into the breakdown in talks is that it is evidence of the changing perception of the two fighters toward a more positive view of Mayweather.

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Related
Cinco de Mayweather
Four rounds with Floyd Mayweather and Victor Ortiz

Cinco de Mayweather

Last Friday, Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Melissa Saragosa agreed to delay the 90-day jail term Floyd Mayweather must serve due to his conviction on domestic battery charges until June 1 because Mayweather’s attorney convinced her that the fight Mayweather had scheduled for May 5 would be too difficult to change and will be worth “more than $100 million” for the Las Vegas community. Everyone’s assumption is that Mayweather’s opponent on that night will be Manny Pacquiao– almost everyone, anyway.

Keep reading…

Merry Monday

Christmas came early for the Detroit Lions, who dominated the Chargers on Christmas Eve and earned their first playoff berth since 1999, giving the team a chance to win their first playoff game since 1991, their first NFL championship since 1957, and their first Super Bowl ever. I’m carried away one sentence into this post, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. In other NFL news, the Packers proved that, if another team is to beat them, they will need their starting quarterback and running back in action. They face the Lions next week, and given the chance that those teams will see each other again in the playoffs, I expect the game to go one of two ways: 1) both teams lay out cautions gameplans, with the Packers particularly careful to protect their starters; 2) the Lions miss the memo detailing option (1) and go all-out in an attempt to knock Aaron Rogers out and get the remainder of their defense suspended in the process. All Lions-Packers games that happen from here on out will be played in Lambeau. Cold weather proved to get the better of Tim Tebow, who got destroyed by the Bills of Buffalo.

The NBA regular season returned yesterday, and most of the games were pleasantly close. Two that were not were the finals rematch between Miami and Dallas, where the visiting Heat handled the defending champs easily, and a game involving Oklahoma City. (That’s all I can say about the latter.) The Knicks won a close one over Boston in the early game, and many have been saying that, despite the win, New York’s weaknesses were exposed. I have been saying that, despite everything and nothing, Spike Lee is so, so tired. By contrast, the Bulls won a close game over the Lakers when Derick Rose blew right past the SAT check-in table to flip in a game-winning floater in the lane, and most people are saying that this close win for Chicago showed their strength. I have been saying that, despite that, it shows that the Lakers are going to have a really long, somewhat bad year. Finally, the other LA team continued its winning ways. This was the only game I watched most of. The Warriors hung around for the first three quarters, but new Clipper addition Chris Paul took charge in the second half of the fourth quarter (known as “the start of the game” in player parlance) and secured a comfortable win for his new team. Meanwhile, in New Orleans, someone said, “basketball?”

On the docket for this week is more bowl game coverage and some looks back at the year that is soon to end (i.e., 2011).

UPDATE:

Isn’t one of you supposed to be….? Oh nevermind.