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Sunday, July 23, 2006
My New Law Review Article on Social Psychology, Calamities, and Sports Law

A draft of my article Social Psychology, Calamities, and Sports Law, 42 Willamette Law Review __ (forthcoming, 2006) is now available for download on SSRN for free, right beneath the article abstract. I hope you give it a read. Through social psychology, the article addresses such topics as the future of the New Orleans Saints; how the fear of catastrophic weather influences where players want to play; natural disasters and franchise relocation; the NFL pat-down policy and stadium security; and communicable disease and restrictions on scouting and player contracts. If you have any thoughts, I would very much welcome them by e-mail (mmccann[at], particularly since the article is only in draft form. Thanks!


I just wanted to let you know that when I took sports law in college I hated it but now I'm fascinated by it and if I could go back to school and redo it all...I would totally go into sports law!

Blogger Jeffrey Schimizze -- 7/24/2006 2:55 AM  


Thank you for your comment. The best thing about sports law, in my opinion, is that there is still much to explore; even though it's been around for almost 30 years, we've only begun to unravel what it actually is.

Also, thank you for work in the U.S. Air Force. Your blog shows that you are stationed in Turkey as part of the 728th Air Control Squadron. Good luck and stay safe.

Blogger Michael McCann -- 7/24/2006 8:05 AM  

I am no professional athlete; however, I can say first-hand that the stigmas associated with post-Katrina New Orleans are very real. I gave up the chance to attend Tulane Law, which would have been much cheaper, and would've afforded me the chance to study with Gary Roberts (who I understand to be an amazing sports law instructor) because I was skeptical of what New Orleans would be like for the next three years. I saw it as a risk I couldn't afford to take.

On another note, I wonder why it is that athletes seem to be willing to express fear over the the occurence of a future natural disaster, yet do not seem to be afraid of a possible terrorist attack. After all, is the likelihood of another Katrina-caliber hurricane hitting New Orleans any greater than that of a NYC terrorist attack?

Overall--a very good read.

Anonymous Taylor -- 7/24/2006 11:18 AM  

Hi Prof. McCann,

I just read the abstract of the article (I can't download the article while I'm at work but, I'll be sure to do it when I get to my laptop at home) and I appreciate your foresight. The issues that you are addressing are definitely significant to the sports world today. Like I said, I haven't had a chance to read the article in its entirety yet, but, do you know of any owners or GMs who are currently attempting to address some of these issues (i.e., bioterrorism)? After the outrageous aftermath of Katrina, I would hope so...but it would not surprise me if no teams (other than the New orleans Saints) have even made an effort to look ahead to the many possibilities of calamities and their legal ramifications and impact.

Isaiah C.

P.S. By the way, how's the summer been for you? I haven't seen you around the school a lot...

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/24/2006 11:21 AM  

Thank you for these excellent comments.


As you note, it's interesting how players (and people in general) seem affected so differently by the threat of weather and the threat of terrorism, even when the probabilities of each threat may not be all that different.

I think there are a number of things going on here. One may be how we react to the identity of the threat and our sense of control over the threat. With terrorism, we're obviously dealing with another person or group of persons who want to do something bad to us, and their desire is seemingly based on a hatred for us, and we think that we can do things to diminish their capacity to hurt us, including fighting back and, just as importantly, demonstrating resilience. With weather, in contrast, we're dealing with a thoughtless, opinionless force that we have no control over. So it may be that while we tend to dispositionalize terrorism and believe that our behavior can affect it, we tend to view weather as an unalterable and impersonal situation.

Another related point is that while the threat of terrorism can stimulate nationalism (and thus an implicit obligation that we, as Americans, won't live in fear of the terrorists), weather cannot; weather isn't a bad guy, weather has no intentions, weather doesn't distinguish Americans from others, and although we try to personify hurricanes by naming them, I still think there is an important disconnect that affects how we respond to it as a threat.

Also, your point relates to a recent op-ed by Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert in the LA Times. He argued that one of the reasons why we don't seem worried about global warming, even though we know that we should be worried about it, is that it's not a bad guy like a terrorist, and our mind tends to downplay that what we cannot personalize. Here is a link to Professor Gilbert's column:,0,7539379.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions


Great to hear from you. I have mainly been in Cambridge, Massachusetts this summer, working on a book project. But I will be back soon (and hopefully this year's incoming class of students is as great as your first year class was last year). In terms of your question, I am unaware of GMs taken these issues into consideration--save for Saints' GM Mickey Loomis, who has attempted to persuade the NFL that his franchise needs assistance to overcome the stigmas associated with Katrina.

Blogger Michael McCann -- 7/24/2006 9:03 PM  

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