But pro athletes aren't actually more likely to commit crimes that the average citizen. It just seems that way because of all the attention their cases get.For the rest, click here.
"I don't think there's any empirical evidence showing that professional athletes are more likely to commit crimes than the typical person," says Michael McCann, a sports law expert at Vermont Law School.
Most players are "just regular citizens that follow the law and are as good or as bad as the rest of us," McCann says. "We're definitely skewed...because a handful of players get in trouble repeatedly."
Geoffrey Rapp, a law professor at University of Toledo, says he hasn't seen evidence to show there's more criminality among athletes, but the cases that arise make sense. "We're talking about people who their whole lives have been praised...for being violent."
"It's possible that athletes become a bit de-sensitized to the consequences of their actions," says Rapp. Plus, when people are wealthy, they "tend to think they can get away with murder."
But it's wrong to assume pros get off easy.
Lisa Kern Griffin, a professor at Duke Law, says that while sports stars may be better represented because of their wealth, "I don't think that athletes are treated differently in the courtroom." Plus, all the attention can mean they don't get off with small infractions that others may not be prosecuted for, says Griffin.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Buzz Bissinger Op-Ed in today's New York Times on NBA's Eligiblity Restriction: From Supporter to Opponent
So I was pleased that, as part of a new collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union, rules were established requiring American players to be at least a year removed from high school and a minimum of 19 to be eligible for the N.B.A. draft. This meant that young superstars would generally go to college, at least for one year. Beyond simply advancing their skills, I thought, it might turn them on to the value of an education, maybe enough to stay in school longer.Now, with another N.B.A. regular season beginning today, the issue still rages, with ramifications that go directly to the heart of whether any professional sports league has actual concern for its athletes beyond a smokescreen of clever spin. And in looking back at Stern’s decision, I am now convinced that we got punked.
. . .
Stern raised the age in large part because N.B.A. owners and general managers resented the amount of time it took to train players straight out of high school. He did it because owners did not like the possibility of players becoming free agents, able to join any other team in the league, in their early 20s. My guess is that he also did it to appease the National Collegiate Athletic Association; you could hear the whining that the N.B.A.’s version of cradle-robbing was denying the college game great players who could sell out arenas.There are disaster stories of players entering the draft from high school and failing spectacularly. But as tragic as the stories are, they are an exception. A study by Michael McCann, a professor at Vermont Law School who is an expert on sports and legal issues, pointed out that of the 21 high school players who declared for the draft from 1975 to 2001, four became superstars — Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Jermaine O’Neal and Tracy McGrady — and only four never made it to the N.B.A. This trend held with the high school draft classes of 2002 through 2005, the year the ban was put in place: of the 26 players drafted, 20 were still playing through last season and three have become superstars: Amar’e Stoudemire, Dwight Howard and James.
The frequent argument that players drafted straight from high school are more prone to quickly get into trouble because of their age has also proved wrong. According to a study by McCann in 2005 of the most recent 84 arrests of pro players, more than half the arrestees had spent four years on a university campus but only 4.8 percent never went to college (even though players without any college experience made up 8.3 percent of the league population).
Update: ESPN's Henry Abbott reacts to Bissinger's story and also refers to some good ideas offered by Dean Smith. Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis also has a great piece reacting to Bissinger, and the same is true of Eamonn Brennan of Yahoo! Sports.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Joe is the President of the Baseball and Media Divisions of the Boston-based Orpheus Sports & Entertainment, which he co-founded with fellow agent/attorney Chris Brown. Both graduated from Boston College Law School in 1998 and both have taught sports and entertainment law courses at BC Law since. I have worked with both of them on a variety projects, including co-authoring a law review article on age eligibility rules in the NBA and NFL, and I'm thrilled to see the growth of their firm, which represents a number of prominent players and top prospects, as well as prominent media personalities, including WEEI's Jon Meterparel, who is the play-by-play voice of Boston College football games.
Back to the Okajima signing, the Boston Herald has details on some of the motivations for Okajima to move from one agent to Joe:
Red Sox left-handed reliever Hideki Okajima hired a new agent near the end of the season as a result of a rather large misunderstanding he had with his previous one, according to his new agent, Boston-based Joe Rosen.
“Hideki believed he was going to be a free agent at the end of his contract this year,” Rosen said. “There was some reason for him to believe it, but he was not misled by the agent (Peter Greenberg).”
Okajima’s disappointment over the misunderstanding led to the agent switch, according to Rosen, who said that Okajima has moved beyond the issue. Okajima is arbitration eligible but due to his contract language, must be offered that contract by Nov. 10, Rosen said.
According to his new agent, Okajima is “very” happy to be a Red Sox and that “he likes it here.” Okajima plans to leave for Japan next month with a stop in Hawaii before beginning his normal offseason training program later in the winter in Australia. Rosen said he was unsure if Okajima planned on running in the Honolulu Marathon as he did last December. His time was 6:08:35 - which is a pace of 14:03 per mile - which means Okajima did more walking than running. .
Congrats again to Joe.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Hauck is certainly not the first college coach to go off on a 20-year-old student reporter in a way he most-assuredly never would do with a member of the professional (especially national) press, who he needs to publicize his team. (See, famously, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy's "I'm a man, I'm 40" rant).
Here's what I find interesting and somewhat disappointing. No one from the professional media (the Missoula paper or local TV outlets) seems to have come to The Kamin's defense, namely by refusing to cover the team unless Hauck (if not the players) stopped boycotting student reporters. Contrast this with the stance of mainstream news outlets such as The Times as to the White House feud with Fox News; several have talked of not attending WH press events if Fox is excluded. For all the criticism of Hauck, this never seems to have come up.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Milstein represented NBA forward Eddy Curry in a celebrated 2005 case in which the Chicago Bulls refused to extend Curry's contract unless he took a genetic test. (The team was trying to determine if he had a rare mutation that increased his chance of suffering a fatal heart attack while exerting himself.) Curry signed with the Knicks without ever having to surrender a sample. Millstein says that the new act is designed to prevent a similar situation from arising again.
"It goes hand-in-hand with all the laws that say your medical history is your own and no one can have access to it," he says.
* * *
For the rest of the piece, click here. For a terrific historical overview of these issues, check out Alan Milstein's Out of the Park: A History of Sports and the Human Condition. For other Sports Law Blog posts on DNA testing, click here. For a law review article that I wrote on DNA testing and the Eddy Curry situation, see The Reckless Pursuit of Dominion: A Situational Analysis of the NBA and Diminishing Player Autonomy 8 University of Pennsylvania Journal of Labor and Employment Law 819 (2006).
Monday, October 19, 2009
Phyllis Coleman, Note to athletes, NFL, and NBA: dog fighting is a crime, not a sport, 3 JOURNAL OF ANIMAL LAW AND ETHICS 85 (2009)
Helmut M. Dietl et al., Governance of professional sports leagues--cooperatives versus contracts, 29 INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF LAW AND ECONOMICS 127 (2009)
Marc Edelman and Elizabeth Masterson, Could the new Women’s Professional Soccer League survive in America? How adopting a traditional legal structure may save more than just a game, 19 SETON HALL JOURNAL OF SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT LAW 283 (2009)
David Fintz, Note, The women’s right to participate in the game of baseball, 15 CARDOZO JOURNAL OF LAW & GENDER 641 (2009)
Geoffrey T. Hancock, Note, Upstaging U.S. gaming law: the potential fantasy sports quagmire and the reality of U.S. gaming law, 31 THOMAS JEFFERSON LAW REVIEW 317 (2009)
James Blake Hike, Note, An athlete’s right to privacy regarding sport-related injuries: HIPPA and the creation of the mysterious injury, 6 INDIANA HEALTH LAW REVIEW 47 (2009)
A. Kaburakis et al., NCAA Student-Athletes’ Rights of Publicity, EA Sports, and the video-game industry, 27 ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS LAWYER 1 (2009)
Lewis Kurlantzick, The tampering prohibition and agreements between American and foreign sports leagues, 32 COLUMBIA JOURNAL OF LAW & ARTS 271 (2009)
Brett Edwin LoVellette, Comment, “Mortal [K]ombat in cleats”: an examination of the effectiveness of the National Football League’s disability plan and its impact on retired players, 36 PEPPERDINE LAW REVIEW 1101 (2009)
Panel I: Constructing and Operating Sports and Entertainment Facilities )(Jason Hadley, panel moderator; Mark Stefanacci, Andrew Lee, Philip Weinberg and Michael Rowe, panelists), 19 SETON HALL JOURNAL OF SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT LAW 382 (2009)
Panel II: Health of Professional Athletes and Obligations to Perform (John Kettle, moderator; Roger Abrams, Michael Weiner, Andrew Bondarowicz and Leonard Marshall, panelists), 19 SETON HALL JOURNAL OF SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT LAW 425 (2009)
Panel III: Entertainers’ and Athletes’ Conduct Unrelated to Their Employment (Scott Shagin, moderator; Fernando M. Pinguelo, Richard T. Karcher, Marc Edelman and Anthony Caruso, panelists), 19 SETON HALL JOURNAL OF SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT LAW 479 (2009)
Fernando M. Pinguelo & Timothy D. Cedrone, Morals? Who cares about morals? An examination of morals clauses in talent contracts and what talent needs to know!, 19 SETON HALL JOURNAL OF SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT LAW 347 (2009)
Michael E. Plantinga, An amended doctrine that will silence the NFL: the demise of the existing fair use doctrine as it relates to uses of digital sports entertainment media, 14 JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY LAW & POLICY 51 (2009)
Andre L. Smith, Do NFL “signing bonuses” carry a substantial risk of forfeiture within the meaning of Section 83 of the Internal Revenue Code?, 19 SETON HALL JOURNAL OF SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT LAW 311 (2009)
Jeffrey Vanderbeek, Key Note Address, 19 SETON HALL JOURNAL OF SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT LAW 466 (2009)
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Interestingly, rather than statutory damages (Bosh was entitled to $ 12,000, which he doubted Zavala could pay), Bosh asked the court to make Zavala relinquish control of the other 800 celebrity names he had been using (I presume Bosh will simply relinquish those names and not try to sell them off). That's an interesting remedy. But I wonder if the court actually could grant this. After all, Bosh is not injured because Zavala owned britneyspears.com.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
The NCAA intended to appeal the decision, but the appeal won't happen as the NCAA and Oliver worked out an
Monday, October 12, 2009
It seems to me that MLB and individual teams control this. Fans keeping baseballs is a matter of tradition and historical practice, practice that is not followed in most other sports--football, basketball, tennis. The question of how a ball should be treated under state property rules depends on the teams--the owners of the stadiums--not simply declaring that all balls remaining within the stadium (or remaining within the stadium and in fair territory) remain the property of MLB and must be returned.
Such a move would not be popular, of course, as it flies in the face of the intrinsic joy of fans catching home run balls. But I wonder if teams might find it better than getting into disputes when players want important balls, not to mention having fans committing simple battery in an attempt to catch a ball.
I am not a property scholar, so I invite those more in the know to weigh in.
Friday, October 9, 2009
I've uploaded my new essay on steroids in professional sports, Blue Sky Steroids, from a symposium on Sports & Criminal Law published by Northwestern Law School's Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology. You can download the essay free of charge here. Here's the abstract:
Performance-enhancing substance use has attracted considerable political and media attention. However, relatively little analysis of the reasons for regulating substance use in professional sports exists. Most of the ostensible reasons for regulating performance-enhancing substance use are belied by leagues’ inadequate commitment to the justifications in other contexts. Further, most of the methods of proposed regulation would be ineffective and unworkable. In place of the standard test-and-punish regime advocated by doping authorities, this Essay argues that performance-enhancing substance policy should be modeled after federal and state securities regulation. Instead of punishing use, regulators should require disclosure of all substances used, and punish only omissions and fraud of a material nature. The goals of a regulation regime would be better achieved without unintended negative consequences through a market approach based on minimum disclosure requirements.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
First, this seems like a bad trade for Ms. Valdivia and her family. If the Barry Bonds home run ball fiasco taught us anything, it is that "historic" home run balls do not have nearly as much value as many fans assume. Her attorney is described as a "memorabilia enthusiast," so he probably knows something about value that I don't. But the ball is unique only because of the "fastest-to" mark that is a largely meaningless, made-up record. If Ryan Howard goes to the Hall of Fame (and I believe he will, at his current pace), will an autograph really be worth less than his 200th home run?
Second, Ms. Valdivia, her family, and her lawyer are hereby estopped from ever again complaining about greedy professional athletes who only care about money and not the game. And so is everyone else who believes the family was in the right here. Howard wanted the ball for his personal satisfaction, because it represented an accomplishment that, in the long run, is meaningful to him. He offered something of value in return. And the girl's family sued because, in crassest terms, they wanted more money (or more value).
Third, I wonder what she did with the autographed ball the Phillies originally gave her in exchange. Did she keep it? That would give her quite a windfall, to which she is not entitled. Of course, if the Phillies had asked for it back in settling a rescission claim, we would be hearing all sorts of shouts about the greedy team/player taking back what they had given this innocent fan.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Two years ago, journalist Robert Weintraub wrote about the 1993 pennant race between the Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants and said "The drama of late-season baseball has been transferred from occasional but memorable all-or-nothing contests between great teams, to annual lower-stakes games between the good-to-mediocre." He blamed the wild-card system, adopted in 1995, because any do-or-die, win-or-go-home contests to win a division or wild card occur only among lesser teams, not among the top teams. I wrote in whole-hearted agreement, using the 2007 season as a perfect example.
Well, this year bears my argument out once again. Yes, last night was a great game and it was an exciting race. But it was between two teams that finished the 162-game schedule with 86 wins--fifth-most in the league entering last night's game. None of the top teams in the American League (the 103-win Yankees, 97-win Angels, or 95-win Red Sox) had any pressure at the end of the season--all were play-off bound, just as the top teams will be every year. The only other division "race" was in the National League West, where, entering Saturday's game, the Dodgers (93 wins--most in the NL) lead the Rockies (92 wins, tied at the time for second-most prior to Saturday) by a game and were playing each other, ostensibly for the division title. But the Rockies already had the wild card won and were play-off bound, since they had the second-best record in the whole league, so they had no pressure and no real incentive to catch the Dodgers and win the division.
Two years ago, I criticized the incentive structure this creates:
A wild-card system values having lot of teams in the play-off hunt and more times with post-season hopes later in the season, with a lot of win-or-else games. But it achieves that at the expense of having the best teams playing those win-or-else games. This is sound as a business decision--more fans in more cities will come out or watch in that final weekend, knowing their teams still are alive.
But as a baseball decision, it stinks that there is no chance to showcase the best teams in these high-stakes games, at least as part of a regular season that is long enough (162 games over six months) to create a meaningful competition. So while that was a great game last night, wouldn't it be nice to have a game like that played between two great teams?
Thanks for listening. Odds are, I will be back with a similar post in 2011.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
In fairness to Alcor, the company vehemently denies Johnson's allegations, which have no doubt generated a great deal of interest in Johnson's soon-to-be-released book.* * *
Workers at an Arizona cryonics facility mutilated the frozen head of baseball legend Ted Williams - even using it for a bizarre batting practice, a new tell-all book claims.
In "Frozen," Larry Johnson, a former exec at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Ariz., graphically describes how The Splendid Splinter" was beheaded, his head frozen and repeatedly abused.
The book, out Tuesday from Vanguard Press, tells how Williams' corpse became "Alcorian A-1949" at the facility, where bodies are kept suspended in liquid nitrogen in case future generations learn how to revive them.
Johnson writes that in July 2002, shortly after the Red Sox slugger died at age 83, technicians with no medical certification gleefully photographed and used crude equipment to decapitate the majors' last .400 hitter.
Williams' severed head was then frozen, and even used for batting practice by a technician trying to dislodge it from a tuna fish can.
* * *
The book describes other atrocities at Alcor's facility in Arizona, including the dismembering of live dogs that were injected with chemicals in experiments, and a situation in which human blood and toxic chemicals were dumped into a parking lot sewer drain.* * *
Assuming, however, that Johnson is telling the truth, Alcor and its staff might be in some trouble. Although commentators have written that cyronics--the preservation of legally dead humans or pets at very low temperatures (about -200 degrees Fahrenheit)--is largely unregulated, it's a crime in Arizona to intentionally mutilate a corpse. Then again, and not to be glib, I'm not sure if a frozen head, particularly when detached from the body, counts as a corpse. Tort law may also provide a remedy through intentional infliction of emotional distress, which has been used for recovery of wrongful treatment of corpses.
It's unclear if Major League Baseball or the Major League Baseball Players' Association will weigh on the topic, though presumably they have some stake in preserving the dignity of Williams and his body.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
On Friday, October 23, 2009, the National Sports Law Institute of Marquette University Law School will host a conference on The Evolution of Sports Law and Business from the 20th to the 21st Century at the Alumni Memorial Union on the Marquette campus.
The conference will include panels focusing on Olympic/international, professional, college, and high school sports, as well as a “catch-all” panel that will focus on gender equity, tort law, and sports officiating. Panelists will discuss significant legal and business developments in the sports industry from founding of the NSLI in 1989 to the present, with a look ahead to our 25th anniversary. Speakers include John S. Black, General Counsel, National Federation of State High School Associations; Mary K. Braza, Partner, Chair, Sports Industry Team, and Member, Management Committee, Foley & Lardner LLP; Elsa Kircher Cole, Vice President of Legal Affairs/General Counsel, National Collegiate Athletic Association; Martin J. Greenberg, Managing Partner, Greenberg & Hoeschen, LLC, and Member, Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District; Gary Johansen, Associate General Cou nsel, NGB Governance and Athlete Affairs, United States Olympic Committee; Jim McKeown, Partner, Chair, Antitrust Practice Group, Foley & Lardner LLP; and Irwin P. Raij, Partner, Regulatory Industries Department, Vice Chair, Sports Industry Team, and Member, Government and Public Policy and Real Estate Practices Teams, Foley & Lardner.
The conference is from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm on Friday, October 23rd. Complete details of the conference, including conference panels and participants, registration costs and forms, the official conference hotel, and conference sponsors, are available on the web at http:/ /law.marquette.edu/jw/2009conf.
* * *
What should America's Olympic goals be? How should we – and can we – accommodate diversity in the Olympic movement? How does the United States Olympic Committee resolve athlete disputes and deal with allegations of illegal doping?
Join the University of Baltimore's Center for Sport and the Law for its inaugural amateur sports symposium on Thursday, October 29. From Doping to Diversity: Legal Issues in the American Olympic Movement will explore a wide range of topics including those above. Panelists for the day-long event include: Bob Bowman, head coach and CEO of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club; Travis Tygart, CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency; and Deedee Corradini, president of U.S. Women's Ski Jumping and former mayor of Salt Lake City. A morning keynote address will be delivered by Doug Logan, current CEO of USA Track & Field and former commissioner, president and CEO of Major League Soccer.
For information about the day's events, please visit the agenda page (at right). This event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is requested by October 23, 2009. To register online, visit the online registration page. For more information or if you prefer to register by phone, please call 410.837.4468.
Friday, October 2, 2009
I mostly agree with Dave's comments. I would add that there is, and always has been, a "frontier justice" element in baseball that umpires (the formal law) have largely been powerless to regulate.