Sports Law Blog
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Sunday, May 17, 2015
41st Annual Conference of the Sports Lawyers Association
The 41st Annual Conference of the Sports Lawyers Association (SLA) was held this past week in Baltimore and, once again, it was a phenomenal success. The leadership of the SLA, including President Glenn Wong (UMass) and the Conference Chair, our own Gabe Feldman (Tulane Law School), ensured that over 800 attendees had the opportunity to learn, laugh and network over three days.
For many, the highlight of the conference was a keynote address by former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Justice Stevens, an amazingly spry and sharp 95 years young, regaled the group with stories about baseball’s antitrust exemption, noting where the court erred in relying on stare decisis in the noted “baseball trilogy cases.”
Among his most powerful statements, Justice Stevens' states, "it simply makes no sense to treat organized baseball differently from other professional sports under the antitrust laws." You can read his speech, in it's entirety, here.
I attended my first SLA Conference in 1991 when my Tulane Law School professor Gary Roberts instructed me “if you want to break into this industry you MUST attend this conference.” What’s reasonably unique about this conference is the true cross-pollination between practitioners and law students at panels, cocktail receptions, and in the hallways. What was true in 1991 remains true in 2015: anyone who has been successful in this industry recognizes the value of mentoring and you'll often see experienced sports lawyers sharing insight and advice with law students throughout the hotel.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the participation of two of our own—Ryan Rodenberg (Florida State) and Daniel Wallach (Becker-Poliakoff) who participated in a panel discussing sports gambling and daily fantasy sports. Both, as expected, shined. Another strong panel discussed the future of college athletics--with Andrew Schwarz, an expert specializing in antitrust and sport economics having a debate with Gary Roberts during the Q&A portion of the segment. [Which continued into the hallway for quite some time.....an enjoyable spectacle.]
All in all, the SLA Annual Conference continues to be one of, if not the, best gatherings of sports lawyers each year. Make plans now, as we'll be gathering in Los Angeles May 12 - 14, 2016.