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:
NBA profiling: In 2015, Mike Scott, then a member of the Atlanta Hawks, and his brother were pulled over and subsequently arrested after a search of their rented vehicle turned up marijuana, ecstasy, and $1,684 in cash. The deputy sheriff who made the stop later was found to have been racially profiling drivers as part of a forfeiture scheme and placed on administrative leave. Records provided by the Scotts’ attorneys show that the deputy sheriff “pulled over more than 1,400 vehicles in 2015 and 2016 but issued only eight traffic citations. He also arrested 47 people, at least 44 of whom were minorities.” As a result of the profiling, the judge overseeing the Scotts’ drug case this week threw out the key evidence against the defendants.
Baseball broadcast settlement: In early 2016, MLB settled a fan antitrust lawsuit targeting the league’s television blackouts and other components of its broadcast system. While the blackouts survived, the fans did win reduced-price single-team subscription options for MLB.tv (I am a subscriber, to varying degrees of satisfaction), as well as a price reduction for the full MLB.tv package. The agreement also included a component that would allow MLB to raise prices in the future in exchange for providing more live streams of in-market games by 2017. That component now is at issue in a new motion filed by the fan group demanding that the court enforce the terms of the settlement agreement. The fans allege that MLB raised prices without the required corresponding in-market streaming increase. They concede that the league may have agreements in place with local television providers to provide the in-market streams, but, the fans argue, “the obvious purpose of the settlement was not that ‘agreements’ of some kind be reached, but that the actual games be available.” The fans also argue that, contrary to what they were promised, MLB has failed to make the “follow your team” game broadcasts available when the selected team is playing the team based in the fan’s local broadcast market.
Cheerleader wages: The Milwaukee Bucks and Lauren Herington, a former cheerleader for the team who alleged that the team violated federal and state labor laws by underpaying her and her fellow cheerleaders, have reached a $250,000 settlement of Herington’s proposed class action lawsuit that provides for the settlement funds to be divided as follows: $10,000 for Herington; $115,000 for Herington’s attorneys; and unspecified shares of the remaining $125,000 to Herington and other would-be class members who opt into the settlement based on their hours worked during the three-year period (2012-15) at issue. While not insubstantial, the Journal Sentinel notes that Milwaukee’s $250,000 settlement amount is less than what other teams– for example, the Oakland Raiders ($1.24 million), Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($825,000), and Cincinnati Bengals ($255,000)– have paid to resolve similar lawsuits. Upon learning that Herington was wavering on whether to agree to the settlement, her lawyer, who wanted her to accept the deal, reportedly was overheard telling her that “it’s a Bucks dancer’s choice my friend, better take my advice.”
Minor League baseball wages: As predicted two months ago, the court overseeing the minor-league baseball players lawsuit against MLB for higher wages and overtime pay will permit the parties to appeal its recent ruling certifying the case for class-action treatment. In doing so, the court also decided to stay the case pending resolution of the class-certification issues by the appellate court.
In 2015, the Atlanta Hawks became just the eighth team in NBA history to place four players on the all-star team in the same season. Despite returning those same four starters– Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague, and Kyle Korver– in 2016, only one Hawk, Millsap, is an all-star this season, making Atlanta the first team in NBA history ever to follow up a four-all-star season with a season in which only one (or fewer) of its players made the all-star team. (For purposes of the 1998 Lakers, I looked to the 2000 ASG, the event having been cancelled in 1999 due to an owners’ lockout.)
Furthermore, due to an ankle sprain he suffered in last night’s loss to the Pacers, Millsap might not even make an appearance in next month’s All-Star Game.
The Hawks’ 27-21 record is good enough for first in their division and fourth in the Eastern Conference.
The moment has been lauded for over 40 years. It trumped, for a short time, the more ominous brand of “white flight,” that of white folks selling their houses and fleeing to the suburbs. Hank was the right hero at the right time. He had no bluster about him. He had poise and was stoic, Russell said. Some white folks of the day said they liked that Hank wasn’t “uppity” — as if his grace was just an act to please them.
Aaron suddenly has some diplomatic descendants in the meshing of two sides of town. Just as baseball has ripped us apart as a sporting city with the Braves and their business flight to Cobb County and the taking of public money to build their new stadium, there are some new heroes in our midst at the right time. They created a oneness with a round ball — this one weighing about 22 ounces. They play with poise and heart, like Hank played.
I’m talking about the Hawks, of course.
Preposterous, you say?
Go buy a playoff ticket and see for yourself. They are the People’s Team. … Read More
In the NBA, the apex of individual shooting is a 50-40-90 season — shooting 50 percent from the field, 40 percent on 3-pointers and 90 percent on free throws. Not many people can sustain that kind of accuracy from inside and out. Since the three-point line was adopted for the 1979-80 campaign, just six players (in 10 seasons overall) have hit 50-40-90 on their percentages.
Kyle Korver is doing his best to become the 11th. There are a handful of players within striking distance of 50-40-90, but only Korver, the Atlanta Hawks’ All-Star shooting guard, is on pace to achieve it. Korver is operating on a different plane of existence right now — shooting 51.2 percent from the field, 52.3 percent on 3-pointers and 91.1 percent from the free-throw line. He could have the first-ever 50-50-90 season. … Read More
According to the plea, Blaylock will serve seven years in prison followed by eight on probation. Four of the seven years will be suspended, attorney Amanda Palmer told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
AD and Commodawg were at Phillips Arena– a/k/a The Highlight Factory a/k/a The Hawk’s Nest– last night with the hopes of seeing eight seed Atlanta clinch a first-round series over one seed Indiana. Instead, we saw a suddenly tentative Hawks team repeatedly surrender leads, including a four-point lead with about two minutes to go in the game, while the Pacers played as steady of a game as they have all series. I don’t know enough about the NBA to offer any real insight or analysis about what happened last night, but on the offensive side, it seemed to me that Atlanta kept finding the wrong shots for the wrong people. In particular, Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, and Paul Milsap seemed to fail to fully embrace their roles on the team last night. Korver is a starter who also is a three-point specialist. He needs to make more than three treys, and he probably needs to attempt more than eight for the Hawks to win. Atlanta was good from the free-throw line as a team (87.5%, Teague was 9-9), but it would have been great to see Teague take over in this game, which neither team really seemed to want to win. In general, the Hawks need to improve their shot selection in game seven: 35.8% from the field isn’t going to cut it.
The atmosphere at the arena last night was a fun one. All the seats were filled, and everyone was dressed in red and engaged in the game from start to finish. For one night anyway, the Hawks had captured their home town’s attention. Here’s hoping they close out the Pacers on Saturday evening in Indiana and give those fans another reason to come out and support them in the postseason.