Sports Law Roundup – 10/20/2017


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.


AD’s year in review

Thanks for dropping by this week and checking out our year-in-review posts, interspersed with our usual coverage, and thanks to Brendan for a great idea.

Top Sports Moments of 2011

The scoreboard in left field.

If you’re looking for an official or objective list of the top stories of the year, I suggest you go elsewhere. What I like about our year-in-review features is that we’ve written about the stories, albums, and events that were most interesting or important to us, and, as will be immediately obvious, I’m going to follow suit.

1. Detroit Tigers playoff push

The Tigers obviously didn’t make it as far as they did in 2006, but this year was like that year in that Detroit beat the Yankees along the way. What was different about 2011, for me, was that I was a) living in Michigan, and b) writing and tweeting for a sports blog during much of the season. Both of these things measurably enhanced my experience of and connection to this year’s team, its successes, personalities, and volatility. It also was the first time in a few years that I was able to attend a game. I spilled much digital ink on this team in these virtual pages, and the posts are easy enough to find so I’ll spare you any detailed recap, except to say that, a few months later, I am able to appreciate the way the wheels came off as a suitable ending to a dramatic (by Detroit standards) season.

2. Vanderbilt’s football season

I didn’t put the Lions’ season on my list under the rationale that it still is ongoing, so this selection is cheating a little bit, but the college football regular season is over, so I’m running with it. I’ll hit on some of the high points in my Liberty Bowl preview that will go up later today, but first-year head coach James Franklin appears to have changed the culture at Vandy even faster than Jim Schwartz has in Detroit, tripling the win total with essentially the same players. As successful as he was on the field (I’ll always maintain that they were three plays away from a 9-3 record), Franklin may be even more successful on the recruiting trail. He already nabbed a Virginia quarterback recruit away from Virginia Tech, and he took a five-star QB recruit to the wire against LSU and Notre Dame. Next year looks even more promising, when Warren Norman is scheduled to return to the backfield alongside 2011 success stories Zac Stacy and starting QB Jordan Rodgers. 2012 will look even better if the Commodores can win the Liberty Bowl and finish this year 7-6.

3. Misbehaving College Coaches

This was a great year for teams I like– Spartans, Commodores, Tigers, Lions, and Red Wings– and it was a great year for sports writing, with the launch of Grantland, OutKick the Coverage, and The Classical, but like Magalan felt compelled to remark upon the marathon record-setter, I feel compelled to mention the names Jerry Sandusky, Jim Tressel, and Bruce Pearl. Sandusky is in a terrible league of his own, and I already have written here about Tressel and Pearl. Sparing the hand-wringing, defending, and analyzing, what I’ll say in the context of the posture of this post is that it is a welcome development that the NCAA is punishing coaches individually for the violations they commit or otherwise oversee. I hope the days of slippery escape artists like John Calipari, Pete Carroll, and Lane Kiffin are over.

Top Albums of 2011

Creating this list was a bit more difficult, not because I don’t like or know about music, but because I’m not quite as hip-to-the-modern-scene as many of my co-writers here. (See, for example, my punt on Amy Winehouse earlier.) Resort to a list of 2011 releases from a trusted source, something I suspect a lot of people writing bits like this do, was unavailing. That list jogged my memory on one album, Gregg Allman’s Low Country Blues, that Bdoyk actually tipped me off to initially. It didn’t make my list though, even though I had to cheat a little as you’ll see, because I didn’t think it was anything special. I liked it, but I don’t think it deserves to be one of the three best albums of 2011, even if I can’t come up with three.

1. Revelator – Tedeschi Trucks Band

This was an easy number one choice for me. I wrote a full review of the album back in September, and I don’t feel the need to supplement it now, except to add that it was the first record I played on my turntable after recently setting up my new stereo system.

2. June 3, 2011, Pine Knob – Phish

This is a concert, not an album, but I was in attendance, and it was a perfect concert night. Put attendance together with recording (free sample streaming), and I’m calling it an album. I went with a good friend, with whom I’ve seen the band once before, and everything went as smoothly as could be. The weather was perfect, the band was playing at a level they hadn’t reached in years. and it was my first visit to this historic outdoor Michigan venue. It definitely was the best I had ever seen them, and we had the feeling during the show that something special was going on, which made it all the more neat and enjoyable. Because amateur blogging about a Phish show registers somewhere between talking to another person about your fantasy minor league baseball team and a rambling monologue at a loud bar about that “drug trip” you had “back in high school,” I’ll close this by quoting bona fide Phish blogger Mr. Miner (the second Mr. Miner— I held that username as a prior legal nonconforming use on, who wrote shortly afterwards that:

Sometimes a show—just one set—can launch thousands of dreams, taking the audience on a voyage so cosmic and coherent; so spectacular and superb that people will look back on it for years to come. Odysseys like the second set of Detroit’s Friday night exclamation reach the very core essence of Phish—four musicians pushing the boundaries of musical possibilities while taking 15,000 fans with them into the depths of the universe. With playing so together and inspirational, Phish opened yet another door last night, inviting us further into the future. And more than ever, the future is now.

…You get the idea.

3. Fall – Root Glen

As I suggested above, I didn’t hear a lot of 2011’s new releases, but I definitely heard this one. One of two releases by this relatively new band from New Jersey, I also wrote a full review of this EP last month. What I’ll add in this retrospective is that it is cool to listen to something for the first time and immediately recognize that it represents an important step up for a band you already liked. Before Fall, Root Glen had been successful at capturing their live sound in the studio, and this was great. After all, it was their live performances that gave them a following in the first place. But a lot of bands play live and just noodle and jam without much focus or commitment, and Fall is evidence of a group redoubling its effort to put forth an even higher quality of music they always had in them.

Thanks for reading us in 2011, and be sure to stick around for much more in the New Year.

Magalan’s year in review
Bdoyk’s year in review

Exexpatriate’s year in review

Bpbrady’s year in review
ALDLAND’s year in review

Growing Up Penn State (via Grantland)

I can’t add a lot to what’s been written about the facts of the burgeoning scandal at Penn State, except to tell you how strange it feels to type the phrase “burgeoning scandal at Penn State.” I know that I’m in denial. I know that I’m working through multiple layers of anger and disgust and neurosis and angst. I know that I’m too emotionally attached to the situation to offer any kind of objective take, though I don’t think I realized how emotionally attached I was until this occurred. I never understood how much of an effect both football and a sense of place had on my persona. I apologize if what follows seems disjointed, because I am still coming to terms with the fact that this is real. “What can I say?” my mom wrote me from State College on Monday afternoon. “We’re sort of going around in a daze.”
. . .
I have two close friends, a husband and wife, both alums, who moved to State College from New York City a few years ago. They did this because they couldn’t afford to raise children in Manhattan, but they also did it because he couldn’t imagine a safer place to raise their kids than a little town in a valley situated three hours from everywhere. I don’t know what it feels like to grow up there now. I want these things to disappear from my consciousness, but they won’t. The place where I grew up is gone, and it’s not coming back. … Read More

(via Grantland)