Sunday, November 30, 2003

Better Testing for THG: FindLaw has an article about the science of drug testing improving and catching more and more offenders, especially those that take the human growth hormone.

No More Exhibitions?: Apparently, there are some allegedly shady practices going on in NCAA Exhibition games, and the NCAA is now considering ending them all together. Here is the ESPN article about actions that UCONN took that while not illegal, don't seem to be entirely legit. Here is another commentary on the current gray area in the rules.

Falling Behind: Between Thanksgiving this weekend and finals upcoming in a week, I will be behind for a while in updating this site. I will do my best, but my apologies in advance.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

No Moose for You: The minor league hockey team in Winston-Salem, NC was forced to begin the season without a name after a trademark dispute. It turns out the team's chosen name, the Moosehead, was opposed by Moosehead Beer, and the two parties were unable to work out an agreement. The team has now changed its name to the T-Birds, which seems to present similiar problems. No word yet from Ford.

On an editorial note, Moosehead? T-Birds? Are we really that desperate for sports team names?

More articles on Chicago Cubs scalping case: The court decision yesterday that permits the Cubs to run a 'Premium' ticket service has received a great deal of news coverage. The Sports Business News has an article about the decision and the Chicago Sun-Times has an editorial about how the Cubs may have won the legal battle, but the team lost in the court of public opinion.

Negotiation Might Lead Nets to a Better Place: The New York Times ran an article yesterday on how the Nets used the latest television negotiation to get the Knicks to drop their territoriality clause. This would allow the Nets to move into New York City (i.e., Brooklyn) without having to pay the Knicks a fee.

Who knows if this will really happen, but it would be funny to have a New Jersey NBA team in New York and 2 New York football teams in New Jersey. Maybe they can trade names?

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Need advice on Sports Law?: Here is an article on Gary Roberts, a law professor at Tulane who is considered to be a leading expert in sports law.

Cubs Ticket Service is Not Scalping: A Cook County (IL) judge ruled yesterday that the Chicago Cubs do not violate state anti-scalping laws by selling some of the best seats in the house to Wrigley Field Premium Ticket Services, who in turn sells the tickets for a marked-up price. The Cubs defended their actions by saying that the seats came from the VIP pool reserved for players' families, the team and the league, and that the service provided tickets to fans that would otherwise not be available. The Cubs' fans, however, countered that the service drove up the price of all tickets to Cubs games. The Chicago Tribune has an article.

Attorneys for the Cubs fans worry that the ruling could cause other teams to also establish ticket brokers. By holding back the best seats, teams could drive up the cost of tickets and circumvent scalping laws. It remains to be seen, however, how courts in other states will treat the practice.

BCS - A Collection of 'Haves' and 'Have Nots': The Wall Street Journal has an article today discussing the conflict between the Bowl Championship Series and the schools that do not comprise the BCS. Currently, only the Big 10, Big 12, Pac 10, ACC, Big East and SEC (+ Notre Dame) are guaranteed at least one representative in the BCS. In 1998, Tulane's football team went 12-0 but did not receive a BCS bid. A similar controversy was avoided this year when TCU lost to Southern Miss, preventing an undefeated season.

Dr. Scott Cowen, the president of Tulane, has been the spokesman for the movement by the "unwanted" schools and has said he would file suit if Tulane again finished undefeated and was denied a BCS bid. Cowen claims this is a violation of antitrust law, as the "top" schools receive the excess of riches from the BCS (hundreds of millions) and those schools on the outside have no chance to join in. In Cowen's eyes, this results in "insurmountable barriers" that form the background of antitrust claims.

The BCS anticipated this at its formation, and hired Hogan & Hartson to assist them in avoiding problems of antitrust. Since a 1984 Supreme Court decision ruled the NCAA could not limit national telecasts to 1-2 games a week, the individual conferences have controlled their own television deals, leading to increased wealth for the "top" schools. In addition, each of the bowls is owned and controlled locally. Thus, Tulane may have an uphill battle to climb, but it has consulted with David Boies and Covington & Burling, among others.

There seems no way to avoid this problem unless college football switches to a play-off system. Schools like Tulane and TCU will never have the strength of schedule nor the drawing power to encourage BCS bowls to accept them as one of the two "at-large" schools. Thus, these teams will never have a chance to do what Gonzaga has done in basketball -- parlay a string of "Cinderella" runs in the postseason into increased exposure, better recruiting and an overall better program that now legitimately competes every year. For the time being, this journey seems impossible for schools to make in football, which in the long run will entrench the current schools and hurt the overall quality of the game.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Interesting news in trademark law. The Trademark Blog (a very interesting read) alerted me to this last week. The Wall Street Journal ran a front-page article on November 12 about rivalry licensing, which is the increasingly common practice of one team allowing its mascot to be comically abused by its rival mascot for a fee and a chance to do the same in return.

If I ever figure out how to post pictures, I can show some examples, but for now you can see some here.

In the $3 billion world of collegiate sports licensing, rivalry licensing has become very profitable for schools. And as a Duke fan, I appreciate anytime I can legally disparage a Tarheel.

The Sports Business Daily (log-in required) reported in October about a lawsuit concerning professional sports and beer sales at games. The NFL, the New York Giants and Giants Stadium concessionaire Aramark are being sued by a family, whose daughter was paralyzed in an alcohol-related auto accident outside of the stadium in 1999. The driver had gotten drunk at the game and then attempted to drive home.

I have attended numerous sporting events and concerts and faced this exact problem. People drink at the game and then believe that drunk driving does not apply to sports or music fans. Parking lots at these venues can be dangerous obstacle courses, as this one girl tragically discovered.

Already, most baseball teams stop serving alcohol by the seventh inning and basketball and football teams by the fourth quarter. The outcome of this lawsuit could perhaps have an even more drastic effect. My hope is that the teams continue and expand their drunk driving awareness and designated driver programs to prevent other tragedies like this.

A note on this site. Many of the news items posted in the first few weeks may not be that current. Since the site is new, I am attempting to play catch up and link to some interesting stories, even ones from the past few months. I will do my best to include the dates.

The Arizona Republic published a story recently concerning the legal battle between Arizona State University and the Arizona Cardinals over revenue from advertising signs at Sun Devil Stadium.

The Cardinals contend that the University's signs take up valuable real estate in the stadium and that the NFL team receives none of the revenue from the existing signs. Arizona State counters that the Cardinals are being damaged more by their poor performance on the field than their lack of advertising signs.

James Hayes, the father of Washington Wizards rookie and former South Carolina player Jarvis Hayes, has sued CBS and Eddie Folger, a CBS announcer and former head coach of South Carolina. The suit stems from an incident from the 2002 NCAA Tournament, where Folger drew a circle around Hayes's (the player's) face and wrote some expletives on the telestrator. The images were not shown on screen, but were shown on the big screen at the United Center. The Washington Post has the story.

It is unclear why the elder Hayes is bringing suit in this case- he does not appear to have standing, unless his son was under 18 at the time of the incident. Folger apparently apologized immediately after the game and said that the profanities referred to himself.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Since there is no such thing as 'Sports Law,' this blog will be dedicated to the law and the role it plays in the sports industry. I hope to have it up and running soon. For now, please visit my Technology Blog, available here.