Sports Law Roundup – 4/7/2017

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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:

    • MLB defamation: A judge will allow a defamation lawsuit brought by Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and former Philadelphia Phillies designated hitter Ryan Howard against Al Jazeera and two of its employees to proceed. The Ryans’ case relates to a documentary that aired on the television network in 2015 that included claims that they were among a group of players who purchased performance-enhancing drugs from an anti-aging clinic. In partially denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case, the judge explained that the argument that Al Jazeera and its employees simply were reporting the statement of an employee at the clinic “is unpersuasive, because a reasonable viewer could certainly have understood the documentary as a whole to be an endorsement of Sly’s claims.” The ruling was not a total victory for Howard and Zimmerman, however, as the judge did dismiss claims related to a related news article about the documentary, as well as all claims against one of the Al Jazeera employees, an undercover investigator. Since the airing of the documentary, the clinic employee has recanted his statements.
    • Athlete financial adviser: A former financial adviser to former San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan pled guilty to wire fraud in connection with allegations that the adviser tricked Duncan into guaranteeing a $6 million loan to a sportswear company the adviser controlled. He could spend as many as twenty years in prison and owe a fine of as much as $250,000, plus restitution to Duncan. Duncan filed a separate civil lawsuit against the advisor, which was stayed pending the resolution of the criminal action.
    • NFL streaming: The NFL and Amazon have reached a one-year agreement, reportedly valued at $50 million, that grants Amazon the exclusive streaming rights for ten of the NFL’s Thursday night games in 2017. Last year, the NFL partnered with Twitter on a streaming deal for the Thursday games reportedly worth $10 million.
    • NFL fax machine: A court has preliminarily approved a settlement in a case involving a claim that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers violated federal law by faxing unsolicited advertisements for game tickets to local businesses in 2009 and 2010. Final settlement payout numbers are not yet available, but, in the meantime, we can ask: did the faxes work?
      bucs home attendance

Sports court is in recess.

A Song of Bryce and Fire

imagesAD has been writing about his new favorite team lately in the popular column Upton Abbey.  Since I can’t allow him to praise the Barves unchecked, I will now write a semi-regular-ish column on their division rivals, the Washington Nationals.  So now you get three columns on teams you (probably) don’t care about.  But you should read all of them so you can get some culture and have something to talk about with your co-workers at the ol’ water cooler.

This past weekend saw a series between the scorching hot Bravos and the hot-but-not-scorching-hot Washington Nationals.  The series did not go so well for Washington, as they got swept and only looked competitive in the first game.  I attended the Saturday game with noted blog subject Bad Jeremy, who is almost as big of a Braves fan as AD.  The game was a 3-1 Braves victory that saw the Nats do very little in the way of making offense and the Braves do slightly more.  Evan Gattis carried the Braves, hitting a two run homer that caused Bad Jeremy to get out of his seat and flex at all the Nats fans in the surrounding area.

The highlight of the game was, as always, the Presidents’ Race.  George Washington jumped out to a big lead early on with Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson trailing behind.  Newcomer William Howard Taft was nowhere to be found, and everyone in attendance wondered where he was.  The answer to that question was soon revealed, as Taft emerged from the right field bullpen to join with Teddy in beating up George Washington.  Apparently there was some beef between Presidents 26 and 27 and President 1.  Who knew?  Jefferson and Lincoln continued past, neck and neck, until Jefferson went into his kick and won what was one of the more exciting Presidents’ Races in recent memory.

Despite being swept by the Barves, the Nats have looked good early on and seem like they are more than capable of making it to their second postseason in franchise history this year.  They have some great young arms in Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzales, not to mention the bats of Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth.  This weekend’s series could very well be a preview of the 2013 NLCS (where the winner will go on to get swept by the Seattle Mariners in the World Series).  Stay tuned for more of A Song of Bryce and Fire, and also for a Mariners column with the working title of King in the North(west).  Baseball, huh?  How about it?