Sports Law Roundup – 11/18/2016

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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:

  • 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.

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The latest news in sports technology

What do the College World Series, the U.S Open golf tournament, marijuana, and Derek Jeter have in common? All of them appear in my latest post at TechGraphs, a roundup of the week’s top sports technology stories.

The full post is available here.

Socializing endurance athletics

The Wall Street Journal has a sports section, something that came along with, or at least greatly expanded following, News Corp.’s takeover of the paper in 2007. It’s sort of what you might expect: a mixed-bag of quality in writing and presentation with more emphasis on tennis and sailing than other sports pages. It features writing from some really smart, talented people like Jason Gay and, formerly, David Roth (of Classical fame and now in an expanded role at SB Nation), and we try to feature those smart articles on this site. Because the paper doesn’t have to uphold a reputation as a source for sports– the move to expand sports coverage appears to be aimed at increasing website clicks– its “sports writers” might be more likely to come to their sports articles with varying backgrounds and varying levels of commitment to the sports world. Once in a while, it even feels like the WSJ’s editorial board drops in on the sports section, and that’s the feeling I had when I read last week’s article about running.

A “generational battle is raging in endurance athletics,” the article announces. “Old-timers are suggesting that performance-related apathy [exists] among young amateur athletes,” which “helps explain why America hasn’t won an Olympic marathon medal since 2004,” among other things.

There are numbers that support the conclusion that “kids these days [are] just not very fast.” At this year’s Chicago Triathlon, for example, older runners, as a group, did better than younger runners. Younger American runners are not surpassing older ones in world competition.  Continue reading

Magalan’s year in review

Top 3 Sports Moments/Things of the Year:

1. Makau breaks the Marathon World Record in Berlin.

Don’t worry, we’ll talk SEC Football soon enough. But records in the Marathon don’t happen every year, and it’s getting much harder to break. So when Patrick Makau runs 26.2 miles in 2:03:38, it’s a big deal. Breaking the previous record by only 21 seconds in a race that is so long might not seem significant, but, umm, it is. I find it helpful to note that the time listed above means Makau ran the race with an average pace of 4:42.9 per mile. If you were a track star in high school, it is possible that you could run a mile in under 5 minutes. Once, maybe twice. To do it 26.2 times is truly difficult for me to comprehend.

2. The ALL SEC National Championship Game.

Since it is a moment that will actually occur in 2012, we’ll say the selection of two SEC teams for the title game. I’ll start by saying the whole situation stinks for Oklahoma State. They were certainly deserving of a shot against LSU. But so is Alabama. I didn’t agree with any of the talk about the LSU-Bama meeting on November 5 – I didn’t think it was terribly boring, and really enjoyed watching it.

Aside from SEC homerism, the moment is significant in that it might have finally tipped the scales for a move to some kind of playoff. It has, at the very least, put the structure of the BCS in doubt going forward. The run up to the national championship may look very different five years from now.

3. The Atlantic publishes Tyler Branch’s piece, The Shame of College Sports, in October 2011.

As should be clear by now, I love watching college football. But its hard to read that article and not feel unsettled by the current state of affairs. As revenues for college football continue to increase, I expect that we’ll eventually see some sort of real payment for players. Which is probably for the best.

Top 3 Albums of the year:

1. Here We Rest – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.

He was my favorite part of the Drive-By Truckers when we was with them, and I’ve loved each of the three albums he’s made since he moved on in 2007. This last one is yet another good addition to his body of work. He’s a heck of a songwriter, and you can rock out or relax at various points on the album.

2. The King of Limbs – Radiohead.

I liked it, sorry. Maybe it’s not as groundbreaking as stuff in the past, but I’ve caught myself listening through the album over and over again. I take that as a sign.

3. Barton Hollow – The Civil Wars.

These guys put out an incredible album this year, and then got a ton of publicity when Taylor Swift tweeted about their concert at the Belcourt Theater. The whole album is beautiful, and the title track is all sorts of acoustic kick-ass.

Related
Bdoyk’s year in review
Exexpatriate’s year in review

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

“To Them That’s Gone: A Film for the Fallen” Enters Final Fundraising Push (via QuestionsPresented)

"To Them That's Gone: A Film for the Fallen" Enters Final Fundraising Push In the summer of 2008, Jon Bellona and a crew of runners set out on a transcontinental run– the Run for the Fallen– from Fort Irwin, CA to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, one mile for each member of the American military killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The group had a powerfully uncomplicated mission statement: Run for the Fallen is a collective of runners whose mission is clear and simple: To run one mile for every American service … Read More

via QuestionsPresented