Sunday, April 29, 2007

TF Liath - 12 weeks old today!






Time does fly - Li is 12 weeks old today and growing well. We think he is pretty smart, so does he!!!

Boston Celtics and the Law

Tonight at 7:15 p.m. EST I will be a guest on Celticsstuff Live (update: podcast available here) a radio show devoted to discussion of the Boston Celtics, my favorite NBA team. We will be discussing a recent post that I helped to write on The Situationist entitled "The Situation of the NBA Draft," which examined how NBA players' success is often based on the situation in which they play, even though we tend to judge them as individuals.

We will also be discussing four Celtics-related legal developments that have arisen in the last week:

1) Tony Allen Acquitted: Shooting guard Tony Allen, who had been charged with aggravated battery relating to a Chicago restaurant shooting and was facing two to five years in prison, was acquitted last week in a bench trial before an Illinois state judge. Last September, I wrote a lengthy article on Allen's trial entitled "Tony Allen's Trial: Contemplating Guilt." At least from afar, it's interesting that Allen was acquitted since, according to some reports, the Chicago Police Department had the entire shooting on videotape (although I've also read that the videotape actually exonerated Allen--and as we know, establishing reasonable doubt in a criminal trial is a low threshold). In any event, Allen, who is rehabbing from a serious knee injury, still faces a civil lawsuit from Marktwain Johnson, the man whom Allen allegedly directed someone in his group to "F--k him up!"

2) Sebastian Telfair Arrested: Point guard Sebastian Telfair, who had a disappointing season after the Celtics traded the #7 pick in the 2006 NBA draft to obtain him, was arrested by the NYPD last week after officers, who had pulled Telfair over for speeding, found a loaded .45-caliber Colt semiautomatic handgun in his car. The gun, which was not registered in Telfair's name and does appear to be his, was under the passenger seat. A victim of a robbery last fall, Telfair has been charged with felony second-degree possession of a weapon since under New York law, "when drugs or weapons are found in a car, everybody in the vehicle is charged with the related offense, unless a single person admits it belongs to him."

Controversially, the Celtics responded to the arrest by removing Telfair's nameplate from his practice facility locker and pledging that he would never play another game for them. Telfair's attorney, Ed Hayes, lambasted the Celtics for this presumption of guilt maneuver, saying,
"It's a cheap shot and my client is very disappointed. It seemed to me that they were looking for an opportunity to dump this kid who has worked really hard in his life . . . He's never been arrested before. He came from total poverty and made enormous sacrifices for his family and I think that entitles him to the benefit of the doubt from the public as to what really happened here."

3) Kendrick Perkins Sued for Breach of Contract: Center Kendrick Perkins, who will hopefully be supplanted by Greg Oden next season (I can dream), has been sued by Michael Rylas, his former high school assistant coach who would later become his personal trainer/manager/confidant, for breach of contract. Right after Perkins was selected with the 28th pick in the 2003 NBA Draft out of Ozen High School in Beaumont (TX), Rylas moved with Perkins to Massachusetts and lived with him until last fall. During that time, Perkins paid Rylas, apparently without a contract and perhaps under the table, for various services (training, investing advice, tax advice--basically being Perkins' Chief of Staff).

Then, on September 7, 2006, Ryals and Perkins entered into a formal written contract that called for Rylas to continue to perform those services in exchange for 6 percent of whatever Perkins earned from his NBA contract, but excluding monies he would receive from endorsements or incentives. Perkins would then sign a 4-year, $16 million contract extension with the Celtics but did not, according to Rylas, live up to his end of the bargain.

4) Kevinn Pinkney Arrested for DUI: Forward Kevinn Pinkney, a key member of the Celtics' late season tanking efforts after being signed to a 10-day contract, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Reno, Nevada last week. He failed several field sobriety tests and was later booked for DUI. I suspect he won't be coming back to the Celtics next season.

I hope you get to listen to the show or its podcast. Thanks to Jon Duke, Justin Poulin, and JB for having me on.

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects

1. IDIOT OF THE WEEK

The award goes to Sheryl Crow and her environmentalist call to use only a single sheet of toilet paper to wipe your ass in order to save the planet. The comment was later described as a joke. Either way, she is a stupid bitch. I will still continue to listen to her music though.

2. ROSIE OFF THE VIEW

I have mixed thoughts on Rosie O'Donnell. She is a stupid leftist loudmouth fat fucking bitch. OTOH, she is entertaining. Without a doubt, she got canned for being controversial, but I think controversy is a good thing. First, Imus, now her. I think we need more people like Imus and Rosie.

3. AL GORE WILL RUN FOR PRESIDENT

No big surprise here. Read all about it.

We'll probably be wiping our asses with a single sheet of toilet paper after 2008.

4. PENTAGON LIES

It is nauseating to hear the lies the Pentagon pumped out in the death of Pat Tillman. The man's death was merely a PR opportunity for these fucks as they glossed over the fact that he died as a result of friendly fire.

In other news, it has been reported that Tillman was an atheist. If this is true, it shows to the right wing religious fuckheads that atheism and patriotism are not incompatible.

5. YELTSIN

Boris Yeltsin was a drunk. He was also corrupt. In this, he was no different than 99% of Russia. But he did help to end communism. For that, he is a saint. He is dead now, and I will remember him.

6. SMOKE VS. NASCAR

Tony Stewart has been running off at the mouth again, but a lot of people are agreeing with him. Stewart called out NASCAR for calling out frivolous debris cautions in order to manipulate racing. Smoke likened it to professional wrestling. I agree. NASCAR needs to maintain integrity on this issue or else it will become a joke.


SORAYAMA, unknown

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Christians are Imbeciles

In keeping with my resolution to be more hostile to religion, I have decided to devote space on the CBlog each Sunday (the Lord's Day) to bashing on religion, religious fuckheads, and what have you.

I credit Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris with my militancy regarding atheism. As they rightly point out, religion is a taboo subject in our current culture, and we too easily give these shitheads a free pass on their faith. This might seem relatively harmless, but 9/11 shows the extremes that religion will go to as well as the cover even moderates give to extremists.

Folks, the bottom line is that there is no God. He does not exist. He is purely an imaginary creation. God is the indulgence of imbeciles who lack both the intelligence and the courage to live in a purely material universe.

There is no evidence for God's existence. In addition, there are reams of evidence indicating that the Bible is a fairytale. Geology indicates that the world is much older than the Bible indicates, and biology shows how life evolved from simpler forms to the diversity we see around us today. Genesis is bullshit. This destroys any credibility for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

But I talk with believers all the time, and none of these facts makes any difference to them. Understand, these people are willfully ignorant. As one Christian pointed out to me, "I don't care what the facts are. I'm still going to believe what I believe, and you are not going to change my mind."

Christians are idiots. They do not inhabit the world of reality. They are as deluded as any schizophrenic. Their brains are unable to grasp or accomodate an alternate and more truthful worldview. Christianity makes a virtue of this willful ignorance and calls it "faith." Religion demands unquestioning adherence to its precepts. This is dangerous shit.

It is time for religion to die, and the proper way to kill it is to call it into question. It is time these imbeciles started thinking for a change. I do not believe in outlawing religion since this would be tyranny. I also do not believe in live and let live on this issue. The reality is that Christians believe they have a right and a duty to police the lives of other people all for the sake of Christ. They push their agendas in the schools and in the assembled bodies of elected officials across the USA. Religion is the handmaiden of tyranny, and I aim to cut it down.

Q&A

Q: What about Enron?

A: I get this question a lot when I talk about free markets. I often wonder why people don't throw in Global Crossing, Long Term Capital Management, or the forgotten Union Carbide disaster in India where people were killed by poisonous gas.

First of all, let's get one thing straight about Enron. Enron FAILED. They went bankrupt. They were punished by the free market for cooking their books. This is supposed to happen in the free market. Compare Enron to government entities like the post office or Amtrak that can run deficits for years with no consequences. You can only go so far in a capitalist environment.

Secondly, Enron was wrapped tightly in political corruption giving contributions to both parties and enjoying favors in return. This has been whitewashed.

Third, Enron took advantage of regulated markets and wanted more regulated markets to exploit. This was where they were able to derive their monopoly pricing power. History is replete with companies corrupted by government contracts, tip offs, etc. It is almost a truism that a government contract will result in overbilling. That's because most of it will not be caught on the government side.

Government's answer to Enron has been the disastrous Sarbanes-Oxley law which now makes it prohibitively expensive to open a public company in the US. Many companies are opting to list overseas as a result. In this case, the entire US market suffers while with Enron the victims were the investors in that company.

There will always be a certain amount of corruption in markets just like there is now with all the government regulations and what have you. But markets punish dishonesty. On the other hand, government fails all the time--9/11, Katrina, Iraq. And what happens? These failures are rewarded with more money. It boggles the mind.

I have accepted that people will always be distrutful of the market no matter its successes while being wholly trusting in the government no matter its failures. Well, why not end the free market and go with total government control of our economy? Can you say North Korea?

Here are a few more articles on the subject:

Myths About Enron
Catpialism on the Hot Seat
Enron's Last Victim:American Markets

The bottom line is that the market is filled with shady characters. The same thing is true of our government. The difference is that government corruption lingers like a bad fart in a closed room while corporate corruption is like a fart in a Category 5 hurricane. Enron attracted greedy investors who never asked how Enron made its money. They didn't care as long as the stock price kept going up. They got what they deserved in the end.

Q: Why are you so marriage-phobic?

A: I get this question all the time from women. I never get it from men.

I just quote the stats. 50% of marriages end in divorce. 40 to 60% of women cheat on their husbands. And I like to do a rough survey on my own concerning the people I know. Very few people I know are faithful. Of the people that are married, most of them tell me it is "tough." Many married men envy my position and tell me they wish they could go back. Throw in all the disastrous relationships I have been in, and there you have it.

Basically, love is bullshit. Most people find this out after they've been married awhile. Some opt to continue with the marriage while getting some on the side, or they go through a nasty divorce. I don't want to do either of these things.

For me, I always want to keep the escape hatch open. I have accepted that relationships are temporary. All marriage does is assign half your property to your future worst enemy.

Don't get me wrong, folks. I'd marry Oprah Winfrey in a heartbeat. I despise the bitch, but a billion dollars goes a long way. But as for the rest of the women in the world, no thanks.

What I am willing to do is very simple. I am willing to live with a woman in a long term relationship. I am even willing to have children so long as I can be a meaningful part of their lives. My best example of this arrangement would be Gene Simmons who has a reality show you can catch each week on A&E. That is a great family. Yeah, Gene won't marry Shannon, but I bet if he did tie the knot that bitch would take him to the cleaners.

Money is the big issue here. Most divorces are because of money. Like it or not, in both the ancient and modern context, marriage is about money and property. But as I've learned long ago, never go into partnership. This applies to business and matrimony.

Someone will throw out "common law marriage" as a potential trap but trust me, folks. I will consult a lawyer before any cohabitation occurs. South Carolina is one of those backward states that still recognizes such horseshit. You can avoid this trap by having both parties sign an agreement stating they have no intention to marry common law or otherwise. This will be a dealbuster for many girlfriends which will expose them for what they are--gold diggers.

In the end, my position really cools the fires of passion. This is the way it should be. People marry in fantasy and divorce in reality. I will never marry.

As for children, I am mixed on the subject. Unlike a wife, you can disown your children with a stroke of a pen. In addition, your responsibilities over them end at age 18. Children have no claim to your property. I can be cold on this subject because I don't have kids, but I know this will change the moment that I do.

I have grown a bit since the last time I visited this subject. I am more open to a committed relationship with the right woman. If I ever meet her, all I can tell her is that I'll be better than any husband she will ever marry. That's because I know you have to give in order to get. Plus, I never cheat. In short, I am a giving person, but I refuse to be taken. Any woman who wants more is being greedy and selfish.

Brady Quinn, the NFL Draft on ESPN, and Confirmation Bias

For those of you who are also watching the NFL Draft, I wonder if we can get any more attention devoted to Brady Quinn, who has received more air time (and at least three personal interviews, including one with a moribund Suzy Kolber who tried desperately to get him to shed a tear or at least a swear) than all other players there, combined? Quinn, who was projected by most mock drafts to not fall past Miami at #9 (and many drafts had projected him to go #3 to Cleveland) has not yet been drafted, and we are on pick #16 as I write this. What I find interesting is how confirmation bias appears relevant in ESPN's coverage of Quinn.

What is confirmation bias? It's a cognitive bias that we all suffer from, and it causes us to interpret information, and to amplify certain information, that validates our beliefs at a particular time. So our minds cherry-pick facts and observations that help to validate an opinion, but discount or altogether ignore information that contradicts that opinion. I write about confirmation bias, and other cognitive biases, in my law review article It's Not About the Money: The Role of Preferences, Cognitive Biases, and Heuristics Among Professional Athletes, 71 Brooklyn Law Review 1459 (2006). In the article, I examine how Jermaine O'Neal seemed to suffer from confirmation bias when he thought that Larry Bird would keep Isiah Thomas as head coach, a belief that many found dubious and yet one that O'Neal regarded as crucial in re-signing with the Pacers in 2003.

But back to Brady Quinn. When the draft began, the ESPN guys were flowering him with superlative after superlative. Steve Young was particularly effusive, gushing that Quinn had remarkable intangibles and would be a fantastic pick. Chris Berman couldn't get enough of the guy. It was as if Brady Quinn was a can't-miss prospect.

But he didn't go number 1. And then Cleveland passed on him at #3 (at which moment the ESPN cameras focused not on the Browns pick, Joe Thomas, or on the Browns fans, but rather on a dejected Quinn and his mom and girlfriend, followed by a photo of Quinn when he was 5-years-old wearing a Browns uniform. Oh the sadness!). Worse yet, when Miami surprisingly drafted Ohio State wide receiver Ted Ginn at #9, suddenly there was a need to explain what's wrong with Brady Quinn. Why had no one picked him? There must be some reason.

Well in came the ESPN trio of Michael Smith, Sean Salisbury, and Mark May who proceeded to deride Quinn as "overrated"; "doesn't play big in big games"; "not accurate"; "even his name 'Brady' is a problem," Michael Smith curiously put it. No longer was Brady Quinn a can't-miss prospect, he had become the beneficiary of playing at Notre Dame, a product of Charlie Weis' play book, and certainly not worthy of a high draft pick. Even worse, his first name was Brady. What were his parents thinking?

It's interesting to observe the rapid shift in "expert" observations of Brady Quinn to fit an unexpected development in the draft. When things looked good for Brady Quinn, Brady Quinn looked good; when the going got tough, so did how others characterized him.

Still, it's undeniably fun to watch the NFL Draft.

Update: As I pat myself on the back for my prediction in the comments section coming true (a first, no doubt), the Browns traded with Dallas to take Quinn at #22, and now ESPN loves Brady Quinn again--"he's not afraid to throw the tough throw,"Braveheart as QB if you will--while doubting the Dolphins for passing on him at #9 (where were those doubts earlier?). And as I type this, Suzy Kolber is interviewing him again, except asking softball questions this time around.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Honoring Harvard Law School Professor Paul Weiler

Harvard Law School professor Paul Weiler is considered by many to be the founder of American sports law and the most distinguished sports law professor around. A renowned expert in many legal fields, including labor law and entertainment law, his extraordinary legacy in sports law is the focus of this post.

From a pedagogical perspective, Professor Weiler's sports law course at Harvard Law School has been crucial in turning our favorite area of the law into a respected and legitimate field. Even more impressive, Professor Weiler has been a wonderful mentor to so many students and former students, including me. He is always available to provide advice and guidance, and his friendship is invaluable.

Professor Weiler's scholarship has also been essential to the creation and growth of sports law. He is the co-author of perhaps the leading sports law case book with Gary Roberts, "Sports and the Law: Text, Cases, and Problems" as well as many influential books and law review articles, including "Leveling the Playing Field: How the Law can Make Sports Better for Fans," which the New York Times Book Review called "a provocative book that combines the broad knowledge of an all-seasons sports fan with the clarity of an antitrust lawyer."

Beyond his teaching and writing, Professor Weiler has been a noted public advocate for sports law. He has testified before the U.S. Congress and met with various political leaders in Canada, his home country. Given the trust that so many influential persons have placed in Professor Weiler, it's not surprising that the late Boston Globe columnist Will McDonough once said, "When it comes to sports law, Paul Weiler knows the answer before you ask the question."

Tonight, Harvard Law School will honor Professor Weiler, who has taught there since 1979. I am honored to be participating in this great event, which will feature a keynote address from Peter Gammons and the following schedule:

The Rules of the Game:

The Winning Effect of Paul Weiler


Friday April 27, 2007

3:45 to 5:00 Panel (Austin West): "Rules of the Game: The Winning Effect of Paul Weiler"
Roger Abrams
Professor and Former Dean of Northeastern University School of Law

Stuart Brotman
President of Stuart N. Brotman Communications

Peter Carfagna
Lecturer on Law and Covington and Burling Distinguished Scholar at Harvard Law School

Michael Curley
Partner in the L
abor and Employment Law Department of Morgan Lewis in New York City

Donald Fehr
Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players' Association

Rick Horrow
CEO of Horrow Sports Ventures

Rob Manfred
Executive Vice President of Labor Relations & Human Resources at Major League Baseball

Jeffrey Pash
Executive Vice President of the National Football League
5:30 Reception (Caspersen Room in Langdell Hall)

6:30 Dinner (Caspersen Room in Langdell Hall): Keynote speakers:
Elena Kagan
Dean of Harvard Law School

Peter Gammons
Baseball Commentator on ESPN
Other speakers:
Stephen Greyser
Richard P. Chapman Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, at the Harvard Business School

Joseph Weiler
Professor of Law at the University of British Columbia

Robert Weiler
Attorney

Please contact Professor Weiler's assistant, Susan Smith, with any questions. It should be a great event.

Update: See Professor Weiler's new blog, which includes a post on the event and one on an interview with his family. You can also see tons of great photos from the event.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Michael Vick, Pit Bull Fighting, and The NFL's New Personal Conduct Policy

Last week, Rick had a terrific post that examined whether the NFL's new personal conduct policy affords Commissioner Roger Goodell too much discretion. We now hear, through Deadspin, that Michael Vick has possibly been running an illegal pit bull fighting ring, and it's interesting to speculate how Commissioner Goodell might apply the code to Vick.

So what has Vick allegedly done? Well, he owns a home in Smithfield, Virginia, where state and county animal abuse investigators were recently called in to investigate after local law enforcement officers, who were acting on a search warrant relating to drugs, found that the property was hosting fights between pit bulls. You can read the details here, but basically they found 70 dogs, many of whom were suffering from neglect (including injuries and dehydration). They also found overwhelming evidence of organized pit bull fighting that took place in three buildings behind the home. That evidence included "rape stands (used to allow fighting dogs to breed while preventing them from attacking each other), equipment used to build strength and endurance in fighting dogs, and controlled substances frequently used in dog-fighting." Pretty disgusting stuff, if true, and not to fan the flames, but check out some of the horrific injuries to dogs who are forced to partake in pit bull fighting, as found on Google Images--but be warned, they may make you sick.

In fairness to Vick, 1) no charges have been filed (yet); 2) while he owns the home, he doesn't live there; his nephew does; 3) we have not yet heard his side of the story--it's always easy to jump to conclusions when only side of the story is available; Vick may have an explanation that mitigates, if not exonerates, his role in what appears to be an illegal operation.

But what will Commissioner Goodell do if Michael Vick is indeed charged with animal abuse, which, under Virginia Law (Virginia, Code Ann. 3.1-796.122), is punishable by up to one year in prison and a $2,500 fine?

Sports Law Blog reader Will Li considers that question and wonders whether the sheer expansiveness and vagueness of the new personal conduct policy--characteristics that at first glance would seem to empower Commissioner Goodell--might ultimately prove to be his undoing:
With the news that Michael Vick is in trouble again, I'm wondering how Roger Goodell will act on this.

Ultimately, I think the vague nature of this policy will come back to haunt the Commissioner - in my opinion, the new conduct policy is not only bad for the players, but will be bad for the Commissioner as well.

By not codifying the new rules, each suspension and fine he sets down will more than likely impact public opinion on NFL player discipline and vice versa.

For example, how do we (and perhaps the Commissioner) judge the Vick case? Inevitably, whatever suspension or fine Vick receives is going to be compared and analyzed against the discipline Pac-man got. But how do you compare the actions of the two individuals when they are so different (even if they are both criminally liable)?

Does this seem dangerous to anyone else but me? Because ultimately, the fines and suspensions will be based on morally relativistic judgments, and will be subject to a host of biases, ranging from player prominence, level of public/media outcry, special interests (animal rights groups in the Vick case, potentially), even time of year (off-season, playoffs . . . ).

I don't see how the commissioner can hand down "fair and consistent" decisions when all he has to go on is previous disciplinary actions and public opinion. Such a disciplinary system does not seem very sustainable to me, and could end up reducing the credibility of the Commissioner's role.
Will makes a compelling case. Is he right?

Time, Money, and Energy

Regular readers of the CBlog will notice that I am rather sporadic in my posting. You might go for a few days with no new content only to get a massive dump on a tuesday. And so it goes. . .

The reason my blog is like this is because my life is like this. I am always butting up against what I call the Limiting Factors which are time, money, and energy. To use the blog as a for instance, my main limiting factors are time and energy. It costs nothing to produce this thing in terms of money. But it does take time to write this bullshit. I usually have time after work, but I sometimes don't have the energy because I am tapped out for the day because I have worked too much or am suffering from one of the four to five colds I get every year. (Right now, I am sick which sucks balls in a major way.)

I remind myself that I have 24 hours in a day. This means there are 168 hours in a week. If we subtract the 8 hours of sleep recommended for each night and the 40 hours of work that is considered the norm, this leaves 72 hours of leisure time to dispose of as we please. That is a lot of time. That is 3 whole days. Where does that time go?

Right off the bat, we blow two days on that extravagance known as the weekend. That third day is sandwiched in between all the shit we do during the week like sitting in the car, shitting on the can, fucking, etc. The reality is that you can add an additional 40 hours of work each week and still have 32 hours to blow any way you want it. This means working Saturday and Sunday. Your evenings are free to do with as you please. (I got this from Gene Simmons who advised working a 7 day week and leaving your nights free for the women.)

There is plenty of time in your life. Anyone who says they don't have enough time to do everything is kidding themselves. Granted, you can't literally do everything, but you can do a whole lot more than what you are currently doing. So, what is holding us back? Lack of energy.

Energy is a limiting factor which means that not all hours are the same. For instance, I do my best creative work in the morning or after a nap. Non-mental stuff like taking out the trash I do in the evenings. I also do my reading in the evenings.

The best way to boost your energy is to be in shape. This means getting exercise. You don't need to go run marathons or anything to boost your energy. A daily 30-minute walk will do the same thing. In addition, I fuel up on large amounts of caffeine. And recently, I have found that you can gain additional energy by eating light. I always want to take a nap after a meal, so I've started skipping meals. I'm in no danger of malnourishment because I'm fat.

As for money, you either have it, or you don't. But if you work a lot and pay yourself first, you'll have money. Winning the lottery would help expand my ability to accomplish certain projects, but it wouldn't change what I want to do with my life.

I don't know which limiting factor is the one that hinders me the most, but I suspect it is simply lack of energy. Right now, I want to go back to sleep because this virus I have is kicking my fucking ass. It is damn annoying. But I'll get through it. I always do.

As for time, we all have the same 24. This will never change.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Lost NCAA Conference

In 2002, John Thelin noted:
"[I]n recent years there has been a groundswell of excellent scholarly works dealing with intercollegiate athletics. The topic has both endurance and significance now that such disciplines as history, economics, law, literary analysis, and political science have been brought to bear on the serious study of college sports. Don't hold your breath for any strong connection between research and reform. As the scholarship on college sports gets better, the educational and ethical problems of college sports get worse."
In 2006, apparently unaware of such a groundswell, and noting the lack of such research, Dr. Myles Brand and the NCAA decided to sponsor an academic conference to encourage scholars to study college sport.
"The NCAA decided to sponsor the academic conference, he [Brand] said, because it wanted to involve faculty members not in role they sometimes play on their campuses — helping to oversee and govern the sports programs — but in their primary role as scholars. 'The idea was that there’s another role for faculty in intercollegiate athletics that we haven’t taken up at the NCAA, and that’s to treat intercollegiate athletics as the subject matter for research,' said Brand, a philosopher who was president of Indiana University before taking the reins at the NCAA. 'We thought it would be helpful if the NCAA would be supportive of that effort.' "
As a result, the NCAA announced it would host a conference: The 2007 Conference on Intercollegiate Athletics and Higher Education in America an "inaugural, academic, juried conference...intended to summarize scholarships from the last several years on the context of intercollegiate athletics in higher education in America and role of sport in American culture."

I found out about the conference when I was contacted by an NCAA staff member and asked to serve on the conference abstract review board. As the months went by, and after submitting 7 abstracts and previously published papers (per the conference guidelines), I contacted the NCAA to determine the status of the conference and find out when I could expect to receive abstracts or papers to review. It seemed to me time was running out. That's when I found out the conference had been postponed. No formal announcement, no press release on the NCAA website, nothing. And more interestingly, no abstracts or papers to review.

That's when I made a few phone calls and found out that another reviewer had also not received any material to review. After a few more phone calls and a few emails back and forth with NCAA staffers, I was told the conference had been "postponed" because of a lack of interest on the part of scholars. Unable to determine how many scholars had submitted papers, I began contacting several individuals and kept hearing back that they, too, had submitted to the conference. But, evidently there was not enough interest...

Then a story appeared--citing a lack of quality papers, Dr. Brand postponed the conference and the "spin" began:
"...when he looked at the papers — 'and having been in the academy for 40 years, I think I can tell the difference between a good paper and something that’s not high quality,' Brand said — he saw too many of the latter and too few of the former, he said."

"That’s when the association decided to start from scratch, and to convene 'the leading scholars in their fields, from sociology, history, literature, economics, business,' to plan the meeting and, ultimately, referee the papers. Brand says he is confident that the 2008 conference will produce important work that measures up to material published in scholarly journals."

"The NCAA’s announcement of the new event said its theme would be “College Sports: A Legitimate Focus for Scholarly Inquiry,” and noted that it would feature “invited scholars of international repute” — suggesting that submissions would not be welcomed."
Okay, so what's the problem? The NCAA and Dr. Brand didn't like the papers submitted. It's their conference and if they want to take their academic "ball" and go home, so what? A reader may simply say, "What's the big deal?"

But, as an academic I think it's relevant to point out several things that shed light on the NCAA organizational and institutional cultures:

1) I was asked by the “nice people” in charge of the postponed NCAA conference to serve on the conference’s review committee, but never received a single submission (inferior or otherwise) to review.

2) Since the only faculty members identified in the article as submitting papers or abstracts to the postponed conference are Drake Group members (who are often identified by Dr. Brand as ill-informed faculty who have their "facts" wrong), Dr. Brand’s comments indirectly and very subtly disparage the scholarship of such scholars,while not mentioning anyone by name, and actually not commenting on any specific work. Maybe all the deficient scholarship was submitted by NCAA Faculty Athletic Representatives? Of course, we can’t say any such thing, since the process is a blind-review one. (Unless Dr. Brand saw the names of the authors.) Dr. Brand’s comments are similar to those found in a non-apologetic apology that actually denigrates those who criticize the individual.

3) I volunteered (as I have on two previous occasions) to help the NCAA in planning their next conference.

Now the NCAA has announced that in 2008 they will convene a "Scholarly Colloquium on College Sports"

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education "The gathering next year will feature four invited speakers who will be asked to talk about what kind of research is needed — for example, a closer look at athlete or fan behavior, or whether sports has a negative effect on certain minority groups — and speculate on the consequences further study might have on NCAA policies."

As Brad Schultz on Journal of Sports Media noted: "The NCAA’s announcement of the new event said its theme would be “College Sports: A Legitimate Focus for Scholarly Inquiry,” and noted that it would feature “invited scholars of international repute” — suggesting that submissions would not be welcomed."

It seems pretty apparent to this "ill-informed" faculty member that the NCAA (or at least Dr. Brand) has little interest in a peer-reviewed academic conference. The NCAA tried that and they didn't like the submissions. Instead of rejecting individual submissions, or allowing "their" invited reviewers to perform their reviewer function, Dr. Brand unilaterally canceled the conference. He did not postpone the conference, he changed the format, the purpose, and the participants. In addition the NCAA and it's representatives and spokespeople disparaged the academic integrity of all those who submitted to the aborted conference, noting:
"We're hoping to get more people in nonkinesiology departments, people who don't do research on sport because it's not front and center in their disciplines, to come out of the academic closet, so to speak, and study sport," he said. "College sports have a tremendous impact on our educational institutions, our towns, our budgets. We think the time is right for a more serious look at the subject."
I guess all the jokers and academic imposters who have studied college sport for the last 100 years should be glad that serious "closeted" scholars can come out and take a more "serious" look at the subject. I'm sure I won't be invited to speak in Nashville next January, but hopefully I can find other less rigorous venues for my scholarship.

Recently Dr. Brand has taken the tact of dismissing any critics of the NCAA and/or college sports by utilizing the off-hand comment that "They have their facts wrong." Recent peer-reviewed research discussing the lack of educational content in 2006 NCAA Division I men's basketball broadcasts was referred to as "defying logic." However, the accuracy of the study's results was not questioned. Such tactics are all well and good, and expected as part of the NCAA's lobbying efforts, but now the NCAA has gotten into the academic and scholarly-inquiry business. The NCAA's proposed colloquium is even entitled "Scholarly," just in case people forget that it is intended to be scholarly. It's all part of the NCAA's branding efforts (pun intended).

The NCAA, in my humble professional opinion, is not satisfied with sponsoring athletic championships, and monopolizing college sports. It seems determined to also purchase any and all critical academic discussion surrounding intercollegiate athletics. I am struck by the similarity of this situation to the NCAA's tactics in its recent purchase of the NIT.

To purchase as much of the dialogue as possible, the NCAA will sponsor a BCS-like colloquium with only four scholars speaking as representatives for all. I have not doubt the NCAA will publicize this controlled scrimmage as an example of its commitment to its educational mission.


Note:

Next time I'll post information about the founding of the College Sport Research Institute (CSRI), a new journal entitled: Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics (JIIA), and next year's 3rd Annual "Issues in College Sport" colloquium and conference to be held April 16-19, 2008 on the campus of The University of Memphis.

FYI: Dr. Brand will be invited to serve on the institute's advisory board, and also contribute as a member of the journal's editorial review board. In addition, he will be asked to be a colloquium panelist and to submit an abstract or paper to be "blind peer-reviewed" for the conference.

It's the least one would expect as part of a legitimate scholarly inquiry into college sports.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Importance of Which Team Drafts You

We have an article up on The Situationist today entitled "The Situation of the NBA Draft." It's premised on the idea that many, if not most, players selected in the NBA Draft will succeed or fail largely due to the situation of the team that drafts them. In other words, some players will find themselves in the right environment in terms of teammates and coaches and fans, while others will wind up playing in the wrong offense, with the wrong coach, in the wrong city. These situational factors can be enormously influential in whether the player succeeds or fails in the NBA.

However, when we evaluate these players, we usually focus on presumed, but often immeasurable and perhaps misunderstood qualities, like "how hard they work" or whether they have the "drive to succeed" (whatever that actually means). In other words, we tend to overlook the situation, and focus on the disposition, and that may not be the best way to judge players.

This same point is true of most jobs, of course. Who we work with, and who we work for, have enormous influence on how well we work. Yet often the situation of our employment (and of our relationships and pretty much anything we do) is overlooked by others. Indeed, the only way to really appreciate the situation of others is to be in it.

We hope you check out our analysis.

Monday, April 23, 2007

I met the surgeon general - he offered me a cigarette.
RODNEY DANGERFIELD

For my birthday I got a humidifier and a de-humidifier... I put them in the same room and let them fight it out.
STEVEN WRIGHT

Immorality: the morality of those who are having a better time.
H.L. MENCKEN

Society bends over backward to be accommodating to religious sensibilities but not to other kinds of sensibilities. If I say something offensive to religious people, I'll be universally censured, including by many atheists. But if I say something insulting about Democrats or Republicans or the Green Party, one is allowed to get away with that. Hiding behind the smoke screen of untouchability is something religions have been allowed to get away with for too long.
RICHARD DAWKINS

Let us take stock of the moral intuitions now on display in the House of Islam: on August 17, 2005, an Iraqi insurgent helped collect the injured survivors of a car-bombing, rushed them to a hospital, and then detonated his own bomb, murdering those who were already mortally wounded as well as the doctors and nurses struggling to save their lives. Where were the cries of outrage from the Muslim world? Religious sociopaths murder innocents by the hundreds in the capitols of Europe, blow up the offices of the U.N. and the Red Cross, purposefully annihilate crowds of children gathered to collect candy from U.S. soldiers on the streets of Baghdad, kidnap journalists, behead them, and the videos of their butchery become the most popular form of pornography in the Muslim world, and no one utters a word of protest because these atrocities have been perpetrated “in defense of Islam.” But draw a picture of the Prophet, and pious mobs convulse with pious rage. One could hardly ask for a better demonstration of the manner in which religious dogmatism and its pseudo-morality eclipses basic, human goodness. This behavior would be impossible without religious belief. It is time we realized that the endgame for civilization is not political correctness. It is not respect for the abject religious certainties of the mob. It is reason.
SAM HARRIS

Spurrier and the Confederate Flag


Coach Steve Spurrier caused a bit of controversy when he called for the state of South Carolina to remove the confederate flag from the grounds of the statehouse. Undoubtedly, he thinks such a move might help him in recruiting black and Northern ballplayers, but the most likely result is to alienate many Carolina alumni.

As a Carolina alumnus, a South Carolinian, and a Southerner, I am proud to fly my rebel flag. A big reason why I like to do this is to piss off people who already think I am an inbred racist hick. By flying the confederate emblem, I am inviting the world to suck my rebel dick.

But I am also a libertarian, and I think it is an injustice to take tax dollars from the black citizens of this state and make them pay to fly an emblem that they find offensive. Some will say the amount is paltry, but it doesn't matter. That flag shouldn't fly on the statehouse grounds. My redneck readers will decry my disloyalty to the Southern cause, but I must remain consistent with the principles of liberty that I have come to love and have sworn to uphold.

If it were up to me, no tax dollars would be used for a memorial of any kind. Yes, this includes removing the portrait of Lincoln from the five dollar bill, selling off the Tomb of the Unknowns, or what have you. This will undoubtedly be extremely controversial, but the reason these publicly funded symbols cause controversy in the first place is because they are publicly funded. Like it or not, people want to have a say in how their tax dollars are spent. This is why we have controversy over things such as stem cell research, prayer in schools, etc. It is a riot of hogs fighting over who gets their snout in the trough of taxpayer money.

It is time to pull the confederate flag down (and maybe put it up somewhere else.) But with that said, it is also time to do away with the memorials to Martin Luther King because it is just as immoral to take money from a Ku Klux Klan motherfucker and make him pay for shit he doesn't like. But for the principals involved in this controversy, the whole point is to rub people's noses in it. This is why this culture war exists between flag supporters and groups like the NAACP. Neither side wants to respect the rights of the other. So, this is why you have this bullshit going on year after year.

Spurrier is a bit of an idiot for sticking his nose in this shit. But he's always had a big mouth. You can count on seeing a rebel flag at the home games this year. That's what happens when you tell Southerners they should be ashamed of who they are.

New Sports Law Scholarship

New this week:
Vanessa Bovo, Comment, Keeping the public in the public use requirement: acquisition of land by eminent domain for new sports stadiums should require more than hypothetical jobs and tax revenues to meet the public use requirement, 16 SETON HALL JOURNAL OF SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT LAW 289 (2006)

Thomas Brophy, Casenote, Icing the competition: the nonstatutory labor exemption and the conspiracy between the NHL and OHL, 14 VILLANOVA SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT LAW JOURNAL 1 (2007)

Meri J. Van Blarcom-Gupko, Should NASCAR be allowed to choose the tracks at which its series’ races are run? 16 SETON HALL JOURNAL OF SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT LAW 193 (2006)

Parker B. Parker, Jr., Take me out to the metaphor, 5 PIERCE LAW REVIEW 313 (2007)

Oscar N. Pinkas, Comment, The wisdom of Major League Baseball: why free agency does not spell doom for European football, 16 SETON HALL JOURNAL OF SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT LAW 257 (2006)

Vittorio Vella, Comment, Swing and a foul tip: what Major League Baseball needs to do to keep its small market franchises alive at the arbitration plate, 16 SETON HALL JOURNAL OF SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT LAW 317 (2006)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

DVD-Pumping Iron

In 1977, Pumping Iron came out. This documentary highlighted bodybuilding and has gone on to become the best of its category. Thanks to Netflix, I was able to watch this flick, and here's my review.

I am not a bodybuilder. I just wanted to get that out of the way. If it was up to me, I would weigh 140 pounds and look like an Auschwitz survivor. But I still enjoy learning about things I will probably never do like ultrarunning or surfing. I watched Pumping Iron because I had heard a lot of things about this flick, and it delivers. Even if you aren't into this subculture, you will find this documentary entertaining as hell.

The "star" of Pumping Iron is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even then, you could tell he was a different breed of man. He was and continues to be a character. He's a scoundrel, but that's why you like him.

The DVD covers the Mister Universe contest which is for amateurs. But it doesn't get really going until it starts to cover the Mr. Olympia contest which is for the pros. Lou Ferrigno and Arnold are going head-to-head, and you can tell that Ferrigno is the bigger man. But Schwarzenegger breaks down Lou mentally such that Lou can't pose for shit. He lacks confidence and swagger which the judges pick up on. Schwarzenegger is a mindfucker. It will blow you away what he does. You'll laugh your ass off at his antics.

Here's Arnold on the pump:

"The greatest feeling you can get in a gym or the most satisfying feeling you can get in the gym is the pump. Let's say you train your biceps, blood is rushing in to your muscles and that's what we call the pump. Your muscles get a really tight feeling like your skin is going to explode any minute and its really tight and its like someone is blowing air into your muscle and it just blows up and it feels different, it feels fantastic. It's as satifying to me as cumming is, you know, as in having sex with a woman and cumming. So can you believe how much I am in heaven? I am like getting the feeling of cumming in the gym, I'm getting the feeling of cumming at home, I'm getting the feeling of cumming backstage, when I pump up, when I pose out in front of 5000 people I get the same feeling, so I am cumming day and night. Its terrific, right? So I am in heaven."

The guy is amazing to look at, too. Not that I'm a fag or anything.

The only downside of Pumping Iron is that it never touches on steroids. Undoubtedly, they were being used, but the documentary never mentions this dark side. Arnold has admitted to using steroids, and the dirty secret of bodybuilding is that you can't look like Arnold without juicing.

Here's what natural bodybuilder Layne Norton looks like:



Nice, but not Arnold.

Overall, I give high marks to Pumping Iron. It is a must-see.

Tanking: The Fan's Perspective

Will Leitch, the editor of Deadspin, has an interesting op-ed in the New York Times wondering how fans can be so accepting of their teams tanking. This is a different perspective on the issue of tanking that Michael considered here and here.

Leitch's point is that being a fan (as opposed to being the team's GM) is a game-by-game, short-term consideration, rather than a long-term, big-picture commitment. You want the team to win this game once it begins; you are not thinking about how a loss may help you three months down the road.

Money line:

"Because I am a fan. And if a fan doesn’t root for his team to win, who is he, exactly?"

Thursday, April 19, 2007


EDWARD HOPPER, New York Movie

Give It Up, Al

Today, Attorney General Albert Gonzales testified before Congress that he did not know anything about the US attorneys he fired and that he did not fire them for political reasons but because they sucked. He then replaced them with political cronies. The firings were not his fault, but he took full responsibility. In addition, he did not lie but certain statements he made may have not fully conveyed the truth which everyone in the rest of the world would call lies. Finally, he didn't do anything wrong, and he promised never to do it again.

I'll let Republican Senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma have the last word:

"To me, there has to be consequences to accepting responsibility. And I would just say, Mr. Attorney General, it's my considered opinion that the exact same standards should be applied to you in how this was handled. And it was handled incompetently. The communication was atrocious. It was inconsistent. It's generous to say that there were misstatements. That's a generous statement. And I believe you ought to suffer the consequences that these others have suffered. And I believe that the best way to put this behind us is your resignation."

Cho Analysis

NBC broadcasted portions of the Virginia Tech gunman's "multimedia manifesto." The network has garnered some criticism for doing this, but I agree with what the network did. It was news, and that should be the only consideration in journalism except in those rare instances where a person's life might be endangered.

As for the videos, they basically confirmed what I already knew. Cho was a nut. Nothing he said made any sense. He was a narcissist pissed off that the world would not kiss his ass. He was a "victim." Please. . .

There is no preventing this kind of thing. I don't care how many gun laws are passed or what have you. And don't think this shit is an American phenomenon. It happens in other countries, too. The bottom line is that there are nuts in our society who do crazy shit. The best thing to do is be prepared for when they appear and terminate them with extreme prejudice. That means letting people exercise their right to keep and bear arms.

Where I work, everyone carries a sidearm. In fact, it is REQUIRED for us to do this. Nothing ever happens there. I feel perfectly safe there. In fact, I feel safer there than anywhere else because I know that a nutcase would be outgunned and would quickly be dispatched. A taxi driver, pizza delivery person, or a convenience store clerk face greater danger than I do. Those people are sitting ducks.

Folks, guns aren't the problem. Fuckheads are the problem. Guns are the solution. If you don't believe me, consider how the problem of Cho would have been solved if there had been one responsible person there with a concealed weapon. I can tell you that I would not have hesitated to blow that fucker's head off. My co-workers would have done the same thing.

It is time for people to quit being sitting ducks and speak up for their right to defend themselves. The cops failed at Virginia Tech. The laws and rules against guns failed. And people ask why the victims at Virginia Tech didn't fight back. With what?! A wad of chewing gum or a textbook?! They were at the mercy of that fucker, and he laughed. He fucking laughed.

Oral Agruments in TSSAA v. Brentwood Academy (Updated)

For those interested, this morning's oral argument in TSSAA v. Brentwood Academy is available here (HT: SCOTUSBlog).

I will provide some comments and thoughts once I have a chance to read it, probably tomorrow.


UPDATE and MOVED TO TOP

Having read the oral argument transcript, it appears one of my earlier predictions proved false: No sports puns or analogies from anyone. I stand by my other prediction, however: the Supreme Court will reverse the Sixth Circuit.

Some random thoughts:

* The TSSAA focused the First Amendment argument on its interests in preventing the exploitation of young student-athletes and on ensuring that athletics do not take precedence over academics. The lawyer never mentioned the interest in maintaining a level playng field, although the Chief tried to bring her in that direction at one point, by suggesting that public schools cannot recruit while private schools can.

* Several justices, including the Chief and Justice Kennedy, seemed inclined to accept that the recruiting rule should be subject to the First Amendment analysis reserved for government-employee and government-contractor cases, a less-burdensome analysis for the government to clear. There also was a lot of discussion of the voluntary nature of TSSAA membership and the fact that there are other, smaller athletic associations in the state.

* Several Justices seemed concerned with the possible breadth of the recruiting ban. They pushed both the TSSAA and the attorney for the United States about whether the rule would apply to all contacts between a school and prospective student--such as a brochure that mentioned Brentwood's stellar football program. Both the TSSAA and the United States pulled back from suggesting that the rule could apply that broadly. This allowed them to argue that Brentwood had other ways to get its message out, an important First Amendment consideration. There also was an interesting exchange between the lawyer for the TSSAA and the Chief about whether a coach could be penalized for criticizing game officials; the lawyer suggested that might not be within the Association's power.

* Brentwood's lawyer got hit hard about the fact that the speech at issue was more than general expression to the public at large about the school and the football program. This was recruiting; it was targeted at student-athletes and signed "Your Coach."

* Justice Breyer was extremely skeptical of Brentwood's procedural due process claim, in part because Brentwood was not clear about the precise nature of the claim. To the extent the problem was that a TSSAA investigator had ex parte contact with the Board, Breyer pointed out this happens every day in federal administrative agencies and that Brentwood's argument would invalidate the Administrative Procedures Act (Breyer is a former Ad Law scholar). To the extent the problem was lack of an opportunity to present certain evidence, it is not clear that opportunity mattered.

So, I still go with a reversal of the Sixth Circuit, probably unanimous. The rub in the case(and perhaps the source of divisions in the Court) may be what type of First Amendment analysis the Court adopts--whether it treats this as the equivalent of a government-employee speech case, which could have far-reaching effects.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Nick's new guitar - He MADE it!!!


I don't know if there is an end to this man's talents!

How Many Wheelchair Seats Does the Big House Need?

News broke this week of a lawsuit filed by the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against the University of Michigan. The suit concerns the number of seats that need to be wheelchair accessible in the stadium, which to this point has been exempt from the 1990 ADA because it was constructed decades before the statute was enacted. With the University poised to launch a major renovation of the 100,000+ seat stadium, plaintiffs argue that the stadium must now comply with the ADA. Under the ADA, public accomodations, like stadiums, must include wheelchair seating. The U.S. Department of Justice has indicated that 1% of stadium seating must be wheelchair accessible to comply with the ADA.

The plaintiffs and U of M differ, however, as to whether that 1% figure applies to the new seats to be added as part of the renovation, or to all the seats in the post-renovation stadium. Although more than 1% of the new seats will be wheelchair accessible (increasing the total number of wheelchair accesible seats from 90 to 282), according to the campus student newpaper, the Michigan Daily,
Stadium-wide compliance would include making 1 percent of all seating handicap accessible and offering a variety of seating locations and ticket prices for disabled visitors. For the officially 107,501-seat stadium, that means there must be at least 1,000 handicap accessible seats.
In addition, the plaintiffs object to the lack of "companion" seats (for the family and friends of a disable fan) adjacent to wheelchair seats.

The plaintiffs in this case are represented by Richard Bernstein, a blind Michigan lawyer (and U of M alumnus) who himself successfully sued Northwestern Law School over its use of the LSAT, which did not offer Braille exam.

The law is likely on the plaintiffs' side. The DoJ "1%" interpretation is entitled to judicial deference. Not only are wheelchair patrons entitled to a certain proportion of seats; as established in a series of recent cases involving stadium seating at movie theaters, they must also be provided with equivalent lines of sight.

It is nevertheless interesting to speculate about exactly how many "accessible" seats the stadium should have. Currently, only 53 Michigan ticket holders request wheelchair seating. The difference between that number, and the number of seats requested by the plaintiffs, is striking.

Michigan's is of course not an ordinary arena, in the sense that games at the Big House are sold out, and there is a multi-year long waiting list to obtain season tickets. It is not unreasonable to think that the number of available handicapped accessible seats could affect the interest of disabled fans in making the multi-year donation commitments necessary to preserve a place on the waiting list. In an ideal world, stadiums would be built with some sort of modular seating that could accomodate the changing needs of fans. As new disabled patrons obtain seats, or as current season ticket holders age and develop disabilities that require wheelchairs, permanent seats could be relocated or adjusted to increase wheelchair-accesible space. Unfortunately, our engineering capabilities may not yet allow such an approach in a cost effective manner that wouldn't at some point result in a pile of chairs tossed onto the field.

Still, I'm not sure that lawyer Bernstein's strategy of comparing Michigan's stadium to recent renovations at OSU and Notre Dame--"Ohio State University and the University of Notre Dame have recently undergone significant renovations compliant with ADA guidelines"--is likely to convince many in the Wolverine state to follow suit.


SORAYAMA, unknown

The Problem

So, what the fuck is wrong with America?

You can't reach a solution to a problem unless you define what the problem is. I know what is wrong with America. Shhhh, it's a secret. But I'll share it with you, Gentle Reader. Here it is. The majority of Americans are dumb as shit.

At this point, you are probably saying this isn't a secret at all. But don't go rushing off thinking you're so much damn better than the Great Herd. Chances are you are one of those fuckheads that make this country so utterly fucked. We like to go on and on about dishonest politicians, broken promises, blah blah blah. Americans are great at whining, yet they never acknowledge that it is their own damn fault for things being the way they are. Politicians are largely reflexive and respond almost completely to the popular will of the people. This is because they wish to be elected and stay elected, and the best way to achieve this is to give the people what they want. And what do the people want? A panopoly of government spending without having to pay a dime in taxes for any of it. But I am digressing at this point. . .

The first sign of the problem is that a majority of Americans believe in God. I'm not talking about Bible thumpers here. These are folks who drink, fornicate, and live pretty much like I do. Yet, they still cling to some sort of religious belief. Christianity makes no real difference in their lives, but they still believe in God despite all the evidence that he simply isn't there. This nominal religion is very pervasive. It amazes me how these fucked up people can pull this shit off. I have more respect for a religionist if only because he at least tries to live up to some kind of creed. What these nominalists do is give the more virulent religious fuckheads a free pass and spawn an industry of "spirituality" that is simply ludicrous. The result is someone like my ex-girlfriend who was a cokehead, a dealer, an alcoholic, and a car thief who would pray for me every night. I wish I was making this up.

The reason this nominalism exists is because it is what these people learned from their fucktard parents or whatever seeped in at church. They merely accept what they are told without questioning a damn bit of it. And to add insult to injury, you have agnostics and closet atheists who try to make some peace with these fuckheads because they don't want to differ from the rest of the lemmings.

The second sign of the problem is the public's almost unquestioning belief in government to solve things. Government is good while everything from freedom to capitalism is evil. The result is people who howl in indignation over some petty thing at work but will gladly fork over a third of their income to Uncle Sam without so much as a whimper. (If you don't believe this, short every person at your workplace a single hour from their paycheck and see what happens.)

It amazes me how people will just blindly go along with government bullshit. Combined with a pervasive belief in a benign deity, and you have the gooey cream filling known as the American Middle where people just don't give a fuck. This collective herd merely ambles along but separate one of them from the whole and see how they change. Then, they care, but not until then. The individual is Someone Else. Just let me keep living in my blissful ignorance.

It takes effort to be as stupid as these people. These folks expend huge amounts of energy to be as dumb as they are. They want to be duped. And this is why we have so many of the problems we have. The majority have abdicated to a small but vocal minority that has learned they can get whatever they want so long as they tell the people what they wish to hear.

All of this came to me when discussing these things with people. Their credulity is amazing. It is like someone ignoring the sun because he wants to catch up on more sleep. Their worldview is not based upon what is true but on what they wish to be true. This stupidity extends to other things in their lives from drug abuse to bad finances to what have you. The difference is between simple ignorance and willful ignorance. The vast majority of Americans are willfully ignorant.

I believe everyone has the right to be stupid so long as they keep their stupidity to themselves. But stupid people like to spread the ignorance around. This is why my taxes are so high, and I get to read "In God We Trust" on my money. If it was up to me, I'd have "Question Authority" printed on the money. But that idea would be DOA. In short, we are not supposed to peer behind the curtain. We are to be the enablers for our tyrants as they fistfuck us into oblivion. That might be fine for you, but it will never be fine for me.

If you are an idiot, let me give you some advice. Stop believing in God and your government and start believing in yourself. Question what you are told. Think for a change. It will amaze you what you will discover.

A Coded Message for the Stunt Penis

Uoya eedna ota topsa rinkingda heta oolka-idaa.

The SCOTUS and Partial Birth Abortion

For the record, I am pro-choice.

Today, the SCOTUS gutted Roe vs. Wade in a 5-4 decision upholding a ban on partial birth abortion. Justice Kennedy pretty much opened the door for the states and federal legislators to begin whittling away at a woman's right to choose. An outright ban on abortion probably would not pass constitutional muster, but the same thing can be achieved through a thousand little cuts as opposed to plunging the dagger straight into the heart.

I expect a division to occur between red states and blue states as abortion becomes more and more restricted in the red states. Recent legislation requiring ultrasounds before performing an abortion pending in the SC General Assembly will probably get by the SCOTUS now. Things are going to get ugly on this issue.

I would prefer the SCOTUS to err on the side of liberty in all cases, but the Kelo decision shows how foolish this wish is. I don't expect a very pro-liberty court for a long while. And so it goes. . .

Does the NFL's New Personal Conduct Policy Afford the Commissioner Too Much Discretion?

Last Friday, I participated on a panel at DePaul University College of Law on the topic of regulating off-field misconduct. We had a lively discussion and debate regarding the timely issue of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's one year suspension of Adam "Pacman" Jones. I raised a number of questions that should be considered by the players regarding this particular suspension, but more importantly, any future disciplinary actions taken by the commissioner under the NFL's new personal conduct policy.

1. Is it connected to the NFL's business?

Internal league discipline of players is warranted in situations that directly influence competition or affect the business side of the game. Examples of such situations would include gambling on the sport, use of performance enhancing drugs, or when a player unloads a slew of racial and ethnic slurs directed at New Yorkers, Mets fans and one of his teammates. But how does a fight in a nightclub (or any other violent behavior off the field) arise to the level of affecting the "integrity of the game"? And if it affects the "business side" of the NFL, how so? Where's the data to suggest that incidences of off-field misconduct are influencing the decisions of consumers in purchasing the NFL's product? The justification for a "get tough on crime" policy seems to be that the owners, coaches and a majority of the players all agree with the commissioner when asked about it -- Well, of course they do! Are they really going to publicly say, "No, I think players getting arrested is none of our business"?

2. Should discipline be imposed without a conviction?

Are player arrests on the rise in the NFL? The advent of 24 hour news from multiple sources in which we are told 100 times per day that Pacman was arrested definitely makes it appear on the surface to be a growing problem in the NFL. But where's the data to suggest that it is. Recall a sampling of some of the headlines back in 2000: Ray Lewis (murder charge), Rae Carruth (charged with murder in the shooting death of his pregnant girlfriend), Mark Chmura (sexual assault charge) and Peter Warrick (charged with grand theft). League officials that year also reported that the number of players arrested for violent crimes actually dropped from 38 players in 1997 to 26 in 1999.

Under the previous violent crime policy created and administered by former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, punishment was triggered only by a conviction or its equivalent, including a plea of no contest or a plea to a lesser charge. That's obviously not the case under the new policy, but the same concerns surrounding disciplinary action before a conviction still exist. League officials seem to have forgotten when they suspended James Lofton for the last game of the season in 1986 because of a rape charge, which then backfired when Lofton was acquitted during the off-season.

Off-field misconduct is laden with factual issues, which distinguishes it from on-field misconduct in which there are no factual issues because there are multiple camera angles of the behavior captured on videotape. Thus, in situations involving off-field behavior, the commissioner performs his own investigation and formulates an opinion. But the commissioner has no subpoena power and can't force witnesses to testify, and all of the safeguards afforded the accused in criminal proceedings are lacking (e.g. cross-examination of witnesses). Finally, and most importantly, a player disciplined prior to a conviction can be prejudiced in the criminal proceeding because prosecutors may subpoena the results of internal league investigations and use them against the player at trial.

3. Does the appeal process ensure fair and consistent disciplinary action?

Pacman has publicly stated that he will be appealing the suspension. The NFL is unique from the other sports in one critical respect: NFL commissioner discipline for off-field misconduct is not subject to review by a neutral arbitrator. Instead, the player's sole right of appeal is to the commissioner -- in other words, no right of appeal.

In the other sports, the arbitrator reviews commissioner disciplinary action using a "just cause" standard. "Just cause" is evaluated according to the common law of the workplace. Generally, this means that the league should follow progressive discipline in response to player misconduct, imposing increasing penalties for repeated offenses in an effort to rehabilitate the player and deter future misconduct by the player. It's arbitrary to impose an overly aggressive disciplinary action upon an individual player with an ulterior motive of sending a message to all players that "this is not to be tolerated". Arbitrators reduce suspensions when the suspension is unduly harsh or not in line with established precedent involving similar situations. Unfortunately for Pacman, and any other player subject to league discipline, he will never have that opportunity.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech Massacre

I've held my fire on this one until enough facts were in. Now, here's what I have to say:

1. There are nutcases in this world.

2. There is no deeper meaning in this tragedy. There are simply nutcases in this world.

3. A couple of students/faculty with concealed weapons would have made this a very different story. Fuck the gun control people. Gun control makes us all sitting ducks.

There you have it.


EDWARD HOPPER, Hotel Lobby

Tax Day

Today is the darkest day in the libertarian calendar. It is the day when we settle accounts with the slaveholder, and we either pay more from what we worked for or we get some peanuts back in gratitude thankful that master let us have some of our money back.

I pay taxes to stay out of jail. I know my dollars that I worked for will be wasted on the welfare state, pork barrel spending, foreign aid, etc. Unlike the rest of America who are stupid as teetotal fuck, I don't comfort myself with some sort of philosophy about duty to country or paying my "fair share." I pay it the way a jailhouse punk bites the pillow at night hoping his tormentor makes it quick and busts his nut.

There is only one thing I would change about the tax code. I would make taxes voluntary. If that ever happened, you'd see that whole fiasco in Washington disintegrate overnight. Suddenly, they'd have to be accountable to the customers. It would all vanish. But this is why the government is more like the Mafia than your local grocer. Their offer is one you can't refuse.

But unlike the rest of you pillowbiters, I'm doing my part. I work to change things. It might amount to nothing, but I take a bit of pride that though I took the government dick in my ass, I fought back. I spit in their face. I still have my defiance, and that is what makes me a man instead of a punk.

Monday, April 16, 2007


SORAYAMA, unknown

Samsung 500

I was pleased that someone other than Jimmie Johnson won at Texas. It was a good race with a clean finish as Jeff Burton passed Matt Kenseth to take the checkered flag.

On an interesting sidenote, Dale Jr. drove Kyle Busch's #5 car for the last few laps. I have to wonder what happened to Kyle Busch who seems a bit like a brat. (He is on my shit list because of this.)

In other NASCAR news, I have to wonder about Michael Waltrip. I've always liked Mikey and rooted for him. I haven't changed my mind about him, but he is having the year from hell. All this shit goes back to his leaving DEI. As a car owner, he has had trouble trying to put it all together. He got busted for cheating and failed to qualify for two races. Not good. Then, he wrecked his car (personal car) and got cited for leaving the scene of the accident. He says he fell asleep at the wheel, and I believe him.

Waltrip is falling apart. I suspect he has given up running as he seems a bit fatter than he was from a season or two ago. He looks ragged, and I think he is working himself into oblivion. He is riding in a suck ass car that he owns, and I doubt he could drive worth a shit now anyway even if he had a great car. I hate to see this happen to the guy. Waltrip could have easily driven for another team, but he really put a lot on himself as both driver, owner, and bringing out the Toyotas for their first Cup season. Then, there's the Car of Tomorrow. I don't see how the guy sleeps.

Speaking of the COT, I think it sucks. NASCAR says that they wanted to build a safer car, but I think the car is actually unsafer because it is undrivable. That was probably NASCAR's secret. Make the drivers slower by giving them a car that has to be driven slowly. Instead, they've become frustrated at a car that will not perform.

I'm all for making NASCAR safer, but this is racing, folks. You accept a certain amount of risk climbing into those cars. If you want safe, go race some go-carts.

New Sports Law Scholarship

New this week:
Brett Gibbs, Note, Antitrust and sports league franchise relocation: bringing Raiders I into the modern era of antitrust law, 29 HASTINGS COMMUNICATION & ENTERTAINMENT LAW JOURNAL 217 (2007)

Paul C. McCaffrey, Note, Playing fair: why the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s performance-enhanced adjudications should be treated as state action, 22 WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY JOURNAL OF LAW & POLICY 645 (2006)

Jason Shane, Note, Who owns a home run? The battle of the use of player performance statistics by fantasy sports websites, 29 HASTINGS COMMUNICATION & ENTERTAINMENT LAW JOURNAL 241 (2007)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Constitutionality of Regulating High School Sports

This Wednesday, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral argument in Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Ass'n v. Brentwood Academy.

Brentwood Academy, a private school in Tennessee and a TSSAA member, was sanctioned for violating the prohibition on recruiting student-athletes through the exertion of "undue influence." Brentwood's football coach sent a letter to twelve eighth graders who planned to attend Brentwood the following fall; the letter informed them that they were eligible to participate in spring practice and, although they did not have to, it would be to their "advantage" to do so. Brentwood sued, arguing that the enforcement of the recruiting rule against it violated the school's free-speech and due process rights.

This is the second trip to the Court for these parties. In 2001, the Court held that the TSSAA--which is not an official state agency, but a private membership organization comprised of public and private schools whose regulatory authority over interscholastic athletics long has been recognized by the Tennessee State School Board--is a state actor and thus subject to constitutional limitations. The Court now will consider whether the TSSAA's rules against recruiting student-athletes are constitutionally valid.

The court of appeals held that the anti-recruiting rule was unconstitutional as applied to Brentwood for two reasons. First, the letter to the prospective student-athletes did not impose undue or unfair influence on them, because neither the students nor their parents felt imposed upon and, in fact, welcomed, the information from the school. Second, TSSAA's desire to ensure a level competitive athletic playing field (by preventing some schools, particularly private schools, from stockpiling talent by enticing, pressuring, or convincing talented athletes to attend) was not a substantial governmental interest that justifies limitations on free expression such as the anti-recruiting rule.

The latter point is potentially far-reaching, since organizations such as the TSSAA (or, for that matter, the NCAA, which filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the TSSAA) exist specifically to ensure competitive balance in interscholastic athletics. If that interest does not justify some limitations on expression (such as recruiting contacts between schools and student-athletes), the organization no longer can perform its regulatory function, at least with respect to private schools.

The other issue floating here is the argument (emphasized in the NCAA's amicus brief) that the Court should overturn its earlier ruling that the TSSAA is a state actor (which would, of course, eliminate the need to resolve some tricky First Amendment issues). The 2001 decision was 5-4 and two seats on the Court have changed since then, including the replacement of Justice O'Connor (who joined the majority) with Justice Alito.

I wrote a short essay on the case for the ABA's Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases, which I hope to be able upload prior to Wednesday. My quick prediction is that the Court will not overturn its earlier state-action ruling, but that it will reverse the lower courts; I do not see the Court recognizing, in essence, a right of schools to recruit student-athletes.

And I predict a lot of sports puns, metaphors, analogies, and stories in the argument and the opinion; the parties and the Court cannot help themselves when sports are at issue.


UPDATE # 1: I neglected to mention that Michael discussed this case when the Sixth Circuit's decision came down last May. I largely agree with his analysis, particularly the notions that letters such as the one from Brentwood's coach obviously affected the twelve student-athletes (all twelve--surprise, surprise--showed up for spring practice) and that if such letters cannot be restricted, then high school sports becomes the unregulable wild west. All the more reason to believe the Sixth Circuit opinion will not stand.