Sports Law Blog
All things legal relating
to the sports world...
Sunday, March 02, 2008
Happy Anniversary: Why Write Here?

To mark what apparently is this blog's 203d post, I want to add my own spin to much of what Geoff writes here and in his comments to The Sports Law Professor.

When I was interviewing for teaching jobs five years ago, I frequently was asked why sports law was not part of my teaching package, given my sports background: student manager for a Big Ten basketball program; a short-lived career as a small-college coach; a love of most things sports; and early work on my fan-speech project. My answer largely followed Greg's original post: "Sports law" is a specific application of areas of law (contracts, torts, antitrust, business organizations) that I am not particularly interested in studying. On the other hand, I share Geoff's view that law comes alive for much of the public (and for many students) most when it involves sports. Is there more interest in how the discovery process works when it involves a run-of-the-mill commercial dispute between two multi-national corporations or when it involves a dispute arising from a football coach allegedly leaving his school high-and-dry for a better job? The latter, I believe--which is why the Rich Rodriguez Blog (run by the WVU Sports and Entertainment Law Society and guest blogger dre cummings) is such a great project.

For myself, I have been drawn to writing in this forum because sport provides a great example of s small, closed society through which we can study rules and legal processes. Much of the theory of what is law, how legal rules should operate, and how legal rules should be enforced can be captured, at a micro level, in sport. Should there be instant replay? Allows us to consider the balance among finality, truth, and human abilities, as well as questions of the accuracy of video in general. Should steroids be banned and steroid-users punished? What is the balance among fairness in competition (whatever that means) and success in competition by using available means of achievement. Even seemingly mundane questions--should based coaches be required to wear helmets--can be abstracted to tell us about broader legal ideas of assumption of risk and paternalism (although the author of that post rejects the idea of baseball-as-societal-lens). Finally, how do (and should) the rules of this closed society interact with the rules of the broader society? Should leagues punish players who commit societal wrongs that have nothing to do with their roles or duties as athletes?

Sport is both unique and not unique for purposes of the study of rules and law and process. But it forever presents new examples and illustrations. For that reason, we can expect to keep writing another 200 entries.


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