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Archive for March 2011

Bonds Trial Starts

March 26th, 2011 | 4 comments »

Spring is here, which means that those who check BetUs for baseball lines are starting among sports betting players, but the actual MLB season will have a shadow looming over it all season.  The perjury trial of Barry Bonds starts today as prosecutors attempt to prove that the home run king lied to a grand jury, and the question remains: what is Bonds’ legacy in the game, and does it even matter?

These accusations surrounding Bonds are from six years ago, and a lot has changed in that time. “The Steroid Era” is looked at as a dark time in baseball, but no one, particularly commissioner Bud Selig, was complaining when the home run race between St. Louis’ Mark McGwire and Chicago’s Sammy Sosa boosted sagging rating in baseball back in 1998. It should also be noted that Bonds had one of his best seasons in 1998, smashing 37 homers with 122 RBIs, posting a .303 average along with 28 stolen bases and a Gold Glove in the outfield, but does anyone remember that? No, they remember the seasons that McGwire and Sosa had as they chased and surpassed Roger Maris’ record. Anyone looking for a reason as to why Bonds started to allegedly take steroids only has to look at the attention that McGwire and Sosa received during that time.

It took McGwire years to begrudgingly admit that he used steroids, although he says that he didn’t do it to aid his strength, but to recover from injuries faster. Sosa still hasn’t admitted it, although like Bonds, all you have to do is look at their physiques and see what was going on. Bonds shouldn’t have lied to the grand jury six years ago, and he probably shouldn’t have done so, but regardless of whether he did or not, his legacy was going to take a hit, much bigger than McGwire, Sosa, or any other player involved with the steroid era. One of the prevailing theories is that Bonds has never been known to be friendly with most of the media, so they kept bringing it up until something happened. Some think that is just Bonds being paranoid, but that would be short-sighted. It’s the only reason that Bonds has been vilified and why this trial is going to be a major storyline during the upcoming season, especially in San Francisco where the discussion should be surrounding the Giants’ quest to repeat.

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Posted in General

2011 Harvard Sports Law Symposium

March 4th, 2011 | Comment »

I am excited to announce that I will be a panelist at the 2011 Harvard Sports Law Symposium. If you’re in or around the Cambridge area and interested in college athletics, you should definitely consider attending! I’ll be discussing conference realignment. Here’s the full lineup for the symposium being held on Friday, March 25th:

AMATEURISM PANEL: Different sports entities answer the question “what it means to be an amateur” in different ways.  This panel takes a “comparative” approach to amateurism and look at how domestic and international sports organizations and entities (e.g., NCAA, IOC, and other sports regulatory bodies) define “amateurism.”  This panel will discuss how each type of organization defines “amateur” differently, and ask, normatively, what is the best way to define “amateurism”.

  • TIME: 9:30-10:40am
  • PANELISTS: Roger Abrams (Northeastern University Law School), Jeremy Bloom (World Champion Skier), Christian Dennie (Barlow, Garsek & Simon LLP), Paul Haagen (Duke University), Michael McCann (Vermont Law School and, John Nichols (Penn State University and Co-Chair of the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics) 

CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT PANEL: Over the past year, the landscape of college athletics has been dramatically altered with the movement of numerous teams to new conferences, including Nebraska to the Big 10, Colorado and Utah to the Pacific 10, Boise State to the Mountain West, and Brigham Young to independent status.  This raises issues about amateurism (when the main driver for conference realignment is money, what is the impact on student-athletes and the traditional model of amateurism?) and the role of the NCAA in either facilitating or impeding conference realignment (what historical precedent or legislative authority, if any, exists for the NCAA to be involved in conference realignment?).  This panel would explore legal and ethical issues related to amateurism and the role of the NCAA in conference realignment.

  • TIME: 10:50am-12:00pm
  • PANELISTS: Greg Byrne (Athletics Director, University of Arizona), Kristi Dosh (Taylor English Duma LLP and, Patti Ohlendorf (VP of Legal Affairs for the University of Texas at Austin), Patrick Rishe (Webster University and, Jason Russell (Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom), Glenn Wong (UMass Isenberg School of Management)


  • TIME: 12:00-1:00pm
  • PANELISTS: Dave Bergeron (Stanford University, NFL) Peter Carfagna (Harvard Law School), Matt Henshon (Princeton University, Harvard Law School), Isaiah Kacyvenski (Harvard College and Harvard Business School, NFL), Pete Kendall (Boston College, NFL), Chris Nowinski (Harvard College, WWE, SLI President and CEO), Dave Zucker (Harvard Law School)

ATHLETE-AGENT PANEL: The relationship between player agents and college athletes remains a hot topic for colleges, players, agents, players’ unions, and state governments.  First, assuming we want to retain a model in which student-athletes are amateurs, how should colleges, unions, and states prevent agents from engaging in impermissible relationships with athletes?  Is the best method through sanctions from the players’ unions who licensing the agents, oversight from universities and the NCAA who have the most resources and are “on the ground” with the athletes, or states/localities who have athlete-agent laws on the books and do not enforce them?  Alternatively, is it possible that paying college athletes would be a partial solution to this problem, and if so, how should the NCAA or universities structure a system in which student-athletes are compensated?  This panel will discuss the athlete-agent issue by exploring the positives and negatives of players’ unions, universities, the NCAA, and states regulating player agents and alternative methods for solving this problem.  Additionally, this panel will explore how to assist student-athletes who “go pro” in sports.

  • TIME: 1:10-2:20pm
  • PANELISTS: Peter Carfagna (Harvard Law School), David Cornwell (DNK Cornwell), David Dunn (Athletes First), Dan Fitzgerald (Brody Wilkinson PC, Connecticut Sports Law Blog), Jason Levien (Agent and Former GM of the Sacramento Kings), Mike Zarren (GM of the Boston Celtics), Warren Zola (Boston College)

LITIGATING AGAINST THE NCAA – O’BANNON/KELLER/AGNEW LAWSUITS: Two pending class action lawsuits filed by former NCAA athletes Ed O’Bannon and Sam Keller have reignited the debate about whether college athletes should be compensated, at minimum, for the use of their likenesses and images in merchandising, video games, and television broadcasts.  A judge recently refused the NCAA’s request to toss out the eight lawsuits filed across the country by former student-athletes, and all eight lawsuits have been consolidated into a single federal action in San Francisco.  This panel will explore the merits of the pending lawsuits; whether, normatively, college athletes should be paid for the use of their likenesses and images (with a specific focus on men’s football and basketball); and the legal and business implications if college athletes were compensated. Former NCAA college football player Joseph Agnew recently filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of California (Agnew v. NCAA) challenging the NCAA’s one-year scholarship rule as an illegal price-fixing arrangement.  This panel will explore Agnew’s legal arguments, the NCAA’s response, and the lawsuit’s potential impact on college athletes.  

  • TIME: 2:30-3:40pm
  • PANELISTS: Steve Berman (Hagens Berman), Gabe Feldman (Tulane University Law School), Rick Karcher (Florida Coastal School of Law), Ron Katz (Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP), Jon King (Hausfeld LLP), Ed O’Bannon (Former NCAA Athlete, Lead Plaintiff in O’Bannon v. NCAA), Libby Sander (Chronicle of Higher Education)

BCS PANEL: The BSC has been attacked by legal scholars, state attorney generals, and other interested parties as violating federal antitrust law.  In 2010-11, however, non automatic-qualifying schools took home a record $24.7 million.  Additionally, Playoff PAC recently submitted a report to the Internal Revenue Service challenging the tax-exempt status of the Fiesta, Orange, and Sugar Bowls and arguing that the three BCS bowls should not be considered Section 501(c)(3) charities.  This panel would explore both sides of the antitrust and tax issues.

  • TIME: 3:50-5:00pm
  • PANELISTS: Marc Edelman (Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law), Brian Frederick (Sports Fan Coalition), Alan Fishel (Arent Fox), Nathaniel Grow (University of Georgia), Stephen Ross (Penn State Law School), Mark Shurtleff (Utah Attorney General), Katie Thomas (New York Times)
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Posted in Fun Stuff

Pro Athletes Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck

March 2nd, 2011 | 9 comments »

With the NFL labor battle nearing a lockout, which would result in players not receiving pay or benefits for the duration, MSNBC published a piece today on players living paycheck-to-paycheck. They found that 380, or 22%, of the league’s players are dependent on that next paycheck.

I know it’s hard to believe, but even guys making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year live paycheck-to-paycheck. We all sit around and wonder, what does a guy do with $400,000 that he can barely make ends meet? It’s the same question a guy making $30,000 and getting by would ask someone making $100,000 and barely making it to the next paycheck.

The bottom line is that many people are slave to a natural tendency to try and keep up with his peers.  A baseball player making the league minimum of $400,000 may feel pressure to keep up with the guys on the team who are making $1 million. He wants to give his wife a nice house, park a luxury vehicle next to the others in the lot and treat his family to big vacations during the offseason.

Add in the fact that many pro athletes make loans to friends and family and invest in their second cousin’s newest money making venture, and it’s not that hard to see how things get out of contol. That’s not even taking into account the guys who drop $100,000 on a bar tab in one night.

Many football players can’t afford a lockout, but now perhaps neither can the owners. In a ruling yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge David Doty ruled in favor of the Players Association on their claim that owners left money on the table in television contract negotiations in exchange for provisions providing for payment in the event of a lockout. A hearing will be scheduled where Judge Doty will decide if any television money received during a lockout would be put into escrow and unavailable to owners. You can read more on the latest in the NFL labor battle here.

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Posted in Player Salaries

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