Tuesday, December 30, 2008

HEROES- Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood is an actor, a director, and a musician. He has an impressive body of work and continues to work long into old age. He is a Renaissance man, a workaholic, and a libertarian. He has directed more movies than Steven Spielberg and won an Oscar. He may even get the Best Actor Oscar for Gran Torino.

What's not to like? Eastwood is a man I admire for his work, his character, and his beliefs. Plus, actors say that he is a dream to work for because of his hands off style. He gives people the freedom to do their work.

Clint Eastwood embodies the ideals I value. He is a hero.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy 94th Birthday

On Sunday my grandfather celebrated his 94th birthday so on Saturday morning I flew up to meet my parents and Amy in Rotorua and spend a day at the lake before driving to Hamilton on Sunday for my grandfather's birthday and then back home on Monday - Whistlestop!

I grew up spending my summer holidays at our family bach on the shores of Lake Tarawera. It's a stunning spot and I miss spending time there but, when you have a horse stud and your busiest time of the year is November through to February, summer holidays don't really happen! That said, hopefully we will get up there late summer 2009 for a week or so. Seems such a shame to have access to such a truly beautiful property and never ever use it! I've included some photos taken at Tarawera to provide a glimpse of how beautiful it can be.

View over to viewing platform
Flower Power
Yes, it was cold in the lake!

Not really a lot to report on the farm/horse front. Everyone is doing well, Maude looks like she is starting to drop some condition so I will increase her feed and start throwing some extra out to Reilly as well. Aine is such a big girl, she's going to start dragging her mum down soon if I don't keep on top. She will be weaned in the next month/six weeks in preparation for her new home and Maude will be scanned next week to confirm that she is in foal and only carrying the one foal. Hamish and Minty have had a great week and I am confident that Minty will be in foal. Girl is another matter altogether however and will just be a case of watch this space!

Bree has now had about as much time off as she has had in work, haha so, it's back to her this week as well. She's parked up right next to the house so I have no excuse really. It has been awfully hot tho!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The significance of defining sport

I have written on several occasions about how to define sport and what qualifies as sport, a common game among “sports-and-____” academics. A frequent response to these posts has been “so what, what difference does it make?” And, in truth, it is largely an academic exercise and a fun way to make fun of gymnastics, figure skating, and golf. But, courtesy of Matthew Mitten at the Marquette Faculty Blog, it may have practical import after all.

The Wisconsin courts msust figure out whether cheerleading is a sport, and a contact sport at that. A high-school cheerleader who fell and suffered severe head injuries while performing a maneuver sued her fellow cheerleader for negligence in failing to spot her properly. The defendant argued that he is immune under a state statute that eliminates liability for negligence (but not reckless or conduct taken with intent to cause injury) for injuries caused "in a recreational activity that includes physical contact between persons in a sport involving amateur teams." The appellate court assumed that cheerleading was a sport and acknowledged the athleticism involved in cheerleading. And, although the court did not mention, there are high-school cheerleading competitions (often seen at midnight on ESPN 8). But the court held that cheerleading was not a contact sport within the meaning of the statute because physical contact between opponents is not an element of the activity, thus the immunity did not apply. The case now is before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which heard oral argument last fall.

I am troubled by the appellate court's approach (although not the result) because I think it might have unintentionally eliminated from the scope of the immunity activities that plainly are sports that should be covered by the statute but that do not typically involve physical contact between opponents. The first example is baseball--not much direct physical contact with opponents, only with objects thrown or hit by opponents. So could I sue the opposing pitcher for a negligently thrown beanball? Could I sue a teammate who did not get out of the way when I called for a flyball? Perhaps plays at the plate or on the base paths, involving potential collisions with opposing players, are common enough. that baseball would fall within the statute as interpreted. OK, what about tennis--it is virtually certain that physical contact with my opponent on the other side of the net is in no way part of the game. But would this mean that I could sue my doubles partner if I am injured when I crash into my him (which, frankly, is more likely than crashing into my opponent) because of his negligence? Would this also would mean that I could sue my opponent if I was injured when he negligently hit me with a ball (e.g., serving when I was not ready)? Or track and field--if I am a long-jumper, I expect no physical contact with my opponent. Could I sue him if he jumped before I had a chance to leave the pit and landed on top of me?

The statute was enacted in response to a 1993 Wisconsin Supreme Court decision arising from an injury suffered during a soccer game, so the legislature had true "contact sports" in mind. And the appellate court emphasized that cheerleading is not a contact sport in that way. But baseball, tennis, golf, track, etc., also cannot be classified as contact sports in the same way as soccer. Now maybe this was intentional and the legislature did want to treat contact sports differently from other sports. But if the legislative concern was about not wanting to chill participation in amateur (especially high school) sports (which might come with a standard of care lower than recklessness), liability in any of the situations described above would defeat that purpose. Assuming the legislature did not intend to treat contact and non-contact sports differently, a court might get around this, at least in my baseball and tennis hypos, by reading the statutory term "physical contact" to mean contact with objects propelled by an opponent. And maybe track would fall in because physical contact is at least a possible element of running side-by-side with an opponent. But this is getting somewhat difficult to maintain.

Alternatively, a court might focus on the statutory term "sport" and find a workable definition of that word--exactly what I and others have been doing as a parlor game. My current favorite standard defines sport by four elements:

1) Large motor skills.
2) Simple machines only.
3) Objective scoring or at least the possibility of determining a winner by something other than subjective judging.
4) Competition among contestants.

Cheerleading satisfies ## 1 and 2, but fails # 3 and possibly # 4 (we would need to know more about whether this team participated in competitions). But track, baseball, and tennis--the examples above--satisfy all four criteria. This gets at the result--the cheerleader's claim can go forward--without cutting large swaths of sports out of the statute.

Study of NBA Player Charities

Paul Caron at Tax Prof Blog reports on a study by the Salt Lake Tribune on the financial documentation filed by 89 NBA player charities. The study found that the average player foundation actually put just 51 cents of every dollar earned towards charitable programs, the rest eaten by administrative costs and inefficiencies. The post and the study are worth a read.

PRINT-Stranger Than Fiction by Chuck Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk's book Stranger Than Fiction does not live up to its title. This isn't to say that it is not a quality read because it is. But I can imagine things far stranger than are in this book.

We like nonfiction because we find it mindblowing when these things turn out to be true. Truth carries some greater weight than bullshit as it should. But when you are someone like myself who reads a lot of strange facts on a daily basis, these true stories fail to shock or astound. I find the real world intensely interesting but not unbelievable.

This is a collection of Palahniuk's work for various magazines. You have stories of sexual depravity, castle building, steroid abuse, the impact of Fight Club, and the most touching essay concerning the murder of Palahniuk's father. That last one was a gutwrencher. You can tell there is some real pain there. I find it ironic how phenomenally good things and bad things can happen to the same person.

Palahniuk is one of my favorite writers, so I recommend this book as a good read. But if you want to read the best thing in here, skip to the end.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Hamish got lucky for Christmas as Minty (Naazarene) came into season. So, they were introduced and, it was love at first sight and now Minty is following Hamish around the paddock, completely besotted. I had to take 'Girl' out as she was refusing to let Hamish anywhere near Minty - what is it with these pain in the a$$ maiden mares this year?! But, once she was out of the equation, everything went swimmingly.

Minty and her boy
Follow the leader
Pretty Minty
Pas de deux
I WISH this was in focus!

Goodbye for two weeks

Well, I'm off to lay on the beach and hopefully the sun will make an appearance, to the two or three people who visit this blog daily, I will be back blogging around mid January. Here's hoping 2009 will be a great year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Xmas sux.

How Would "Safe" Steroids Impact Sports?

University of Pennsylvania bioethics professor Arthur Caplan has a provocative piece in the British Journal of Sports Medicine entitled "Does the the biomedical revolution spell the end of sport?". Here's an excerpt:

* * *

But, what if biomedical science could put the safety issue [of steroids] aside? Someday, probably soon, there will be drugs that do what steroids do without any real risk of harm to the user. Forms of gene therapy are also being developed that will let us safely tweak ourselves and our offspring to perform athletic feats that are ’’swifter, higher and stronger’’ than ever before seen. Would the world still want the interventions banned? Would doctors who offered such techniques be acting immorally?

* * *

Strangely, the greatest threat in to the future of sport is not necessarily new drugs, gene therapy or better chemistry. It may simply be that the more knowledge we gain about the hereditary and developmental factors involved, the greater the threat to our ability to value performance as a result of much other than random luck in the distribution of the hereditary materials that govern so much of who we are and what we can achieve.

Science does not destroy the possibility of effort but it may diminish our understanding of its role to the point where sport simply devolves into exhibition.

* * *

To access the rest of the article, click here (there is a fee). For a related Sports Law Blog piece, check out Greg's posting "Performance Enhancing Drug or Air Conditioning?"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

whither chizik and kiffin?

For years, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and Division I athletic directors and university administrators have come under intense scrutiny and fire for their repeated failure to hire African American and other minority head coaches for their collegiate football programs. The Sports Law Blog has addressed the issue of minority head coach hiring on many occasions, including recently. Despite the rhetoric, scrutiny, criticism and venom, the NCAA, athletic directors and university administrators continue to ignore the call for equal opportunity. Athletic directors and university presidents continue to thumb their collective noses at critics in particular, but also, at the very athletes that power college football.

At this time, African American athletes comprise more than half of the scholarship players at the Division I college football level. In the professional football ranks, more than 70% of the athletes are African American. As things stand today at the collegiate level then, the 50% black athletes who play college football can expect a 5% chance that their head coach will be African American (six head coaches of the 119 head coach positions). In the National Football League, the 70% black athletes on NFL rosters can expect a 22% chance that their head coach will be African American (seven head coaches of the 32 head coach positions, including interim Mike Singletary).

This particular month (December 2008), the glaring issue of the failure of collegiate programs to hire African American head coaches has come under particular scrutiny. Auburn University drew a cacophony of protest when it hired Gene Chizik to replace Tommy Tuberville, despite Chizik’s extremely poor win/loss record at Iowa State and the “passing over” of Turner Gill who has resurrected a football program at the University of Buffalo (and is African American). Still, Auburn is not alone. High profile head football coach positions at Tennessee, Kansas State, Washington, Iowa State, Syracuse and Mississippi State have been filled by white head coaches, many of them unproven neophytes (Washington, Kansas State and Mississippi State replaced terminated African American head coaches). One writer termed these hiring decisions as a "laugh riot."

Floyd Keith, President of the Black Coaches Association, in exasperation, has begun exploring avenues to sue university administrations under Title VII for intentional race discrimination in hiring. Despite his work in developing the hiring “report card” and in motivating the NCAA to adopt a non-binding “Best Practices” memorandum that, similar to the NFL’s Rooney Rule, asks university administrations to interview at least one minority candidate for each collegiate head football coach opening, Keith remains discouraged at the refusal of NCAA member institutions to diversify the head football coaching profession.

To this reverberating call for change, inclusion, social justice and equal hiring, I would add the following points that have perhaps gone unrecognized during the course of this debate.

First, per William Rhoden’s piece in the New York Times, when asked to name the top five coaches that NFL athletes would most like to play for, four of the top five identified by the players are African American head coaches (i.e., Tony Dungy (1st place); Lovie Smith (2nd place); Herm Edwards (4th place); and Mike Tomlin (5th place)). This suggests several things: (a) when given the opportunity, black head coaches generally excel; (b) 70% of the athletes in the NFL are African American and those athletes clearly prefer playing for an African American head coach (see Rhoden); (c) African American head coaches relate in genuine ways to the modern athlete and take the mentoring role very seriously (see Tony Dungy, Lovie Smith, Turner Gill); (d) of the 32 NFL head coaches, only six at the time of the survey were African American and FOUR were listed in the top five as far as coaches athletes would prefer to play for; and (e) the "black football-playing majority must answer to a predominantly white power structure, which includes team executives and owners." (see Rhoden)

One dispiriting logical conclusion then, for those NCAA university administrators and athletic directors that refuse to hire minority head coaches, is that they are essentially telling their African American student athletes, that the athletes preference to be coached or mentored by an African American head coach is completely unimportant to the goal or mission of the institution. Athletic directors and university administrations, as per the usual, seem so beholden to the booster or the alum (the good old boy network), that what may be in the best interest of the athlete (and the program in the long term), is insignificant or even trivial. Again, Rhoden’s story indicates that African American athletes want to play for an African American head coach. Presumably, a coach that “gets” them, understands their challenges and wants to help them learn to develop both as an athlete and as a man. (see Tony Dungy). Only 5% of NCAA D.1 football programs have hired an African American head coach to mentor their more than 50% African American athletes.

Second, African American head coaches, when they are finally given the opportunity to be a head coach, are usually tasked with resurrecting or turning around failed or moribund organizations (see Tony Dungy—Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Lovie Smith—Chicago Bears; Romeo Crennel—Cleveland Browns; Marvin Lewis—Cincinnati Bengals; Turner Gill—University of Buffalo; Mike Locksley—University of New Mexico, etc.). This is typically not true for many white coaching hires (see Norv Turner—San Diego Chargers; Wade Phillips—Dallas Cowboys; Lane Kiffin—University of Tennessee; Gene Chizik—Auburn University; Urban Meyer—University of Florida etc.). For the white neophyte head coach, a solid underlying program or foundation is often in place allowing quick successes. For the African American head coach, a miraculous turnaround is often the order of the day (only Mike Tomlin’s hire by the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tony Dungy’s hire by the Indianapolis Colts can fairly be characterized as a hire into a solid situation).

Third, the latest trend in hiring head football coaches, the "coach-in-waiting" model, starkly and baldly circumvents both the Rooney Rule in the NFL and the Best Practices Memorandum in the NCAA. Essentially, stable programs like Florida State University, the University of Texas and the Seattle Seahawks, designate an assistant coach on staff, typically white (but not always, see Joker Phillips at Kentucky), that will become the next head coach when the current coach retires. Bobby Bowden will be replaced by Jimbo Fisher at Florida State. Mack Brown will be replaced by Will Muschamp at Texas. Mike Holmgren will watch Jim Mora, Jr., take over when he steps down this offseason. When affirmatively trying to level a playing field, selecting a "coach-in-waiting" simply rejects an equal opportunity hiring process and mocks the spirit of the Rooney Rule and the Best Practices Memorandum.

Fourth, the African American head coach must typically prove his mettle for decades as an assistant and interview for dozens of jobs before being given an opportunity to become a head coach. Tony Dungy was passed over for years before landing the Tampa Bay Buccaneer job. Marvin Lewis interviewed repeatedly for head coach opportunities. Apparently Turner Gill, who interviewed at Syracuse and Auburn this hiring cycle must continue to pay his dues before he will land the coveted BCS program head coach position. For Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian and Gene Chizik, the dues that must be paid appear to be much different and their dues do not cost nearly as much. No matter how an athletic director or university administration justifies that differing cost, it is purely and simply unequal.

A call has been made for a Civil Rights Movement in hiring head football coaches. Apparently, without one, the NCAA and its member institutions will not do the right thing, which is to diversify its coaching ranks.*

* Thanks to Rob Dixon, 3L, West Virginia University College of Law for providing research and insight. Thanks also to Sheila Hassani, 3L, West Virginia University College of Law for research and source material.

Sports Law Blog selected as one of the ABA Journal's Blawg 100

This year we have been selected by the editors of the ABA Journal as one of the top 100 best websites by lawyers, for lawyers. Now lawyers are being asked to vote on their favorites in each of the Blawg 100’s 10 categories. Sports Law Blog is in the "Niche" category. You can vote for our blog here by simply clicking on the "Vote!" box next to our listing. Voting ends January 2.

"New legal blogs are springing up on a daily basis – we now have more than 2,000 in our online directory. Competition for the time and attention of lawyers is getting fiercer," says Edward A. Adams, the Journal’s editor and publisher. "Half the blogs on last year’s inaugural Blawg 100 list didn’t make the cut this year. That’s a testament to the quality of this year’s honorees, and evidence of the increasing amount of valuable information all legal blogs are publishing."

Monday, December 22, 2008

The New Zealand Versus Windies Series

The second and final test has ended in a draw, there is a reason why the Windies are seventh and we are eighth, both teams gave up and just wanted a draw, with New Zealand needing 92 runs from the last nine overs and the Windies needed five wickets, both teams just looked at each other and decided to end the match early.


Can you imagine this happening in the Australia versus South African series, not a chance.

Enough said.

We're getting Chrismassy

We dashed into the $2 shop yesterday to avail ourselves of a couple of new sets of reindeer antlers and what better way to test them out than try them on a couple of the 'kids'. Robbie and Rory are today's antler models (oh, and Amy too, of course!).

Step aside Rudolph!
It's Rory
the red-antlered reindeer!
What are ya doin' mum?!
Ho ho ho little girl
Mmmm smells good
Can I eat it!
Pair of posers

And a brief video ...

School Colors Reaffirmed as a Valid Trademark

Although many think of logos and designs are central to trademarks, the use of color schemes also are protectable under trademark law -- even if the color schemes are not registered with the Patent and Trademark Office. This was the ruling of the 7th Circuit in LSU v. Smack Apparel, 07-30580, which affirmed a summary judgment ruling of the trial court with respect to infringement.

The Universities -- Louisiana State, University of Oklahoma, Ohio State and the University of Southern California -- alleged that the defendants violated the Lanham Act and infringed their trademarks by selling t-shirts with the schools’ color schemes and other identifying indicia referencing the games of the schools’ football teams. After the district court granted summary judgment to the Universities, a jury trial as to damages was conducted, with the jury returning
a verdict favoring the plaintiffs for actual damages of over $10,500 and lost profits of $35,686. The district court also enjoined Smack from manufacturing, distributing, selling, or offering for sale any of the six t-shirt designs found to be infringing or any other similar designs.

The appeals court, not surprisingly, concluded that the colors, content, and context of
the offending t-shirts are likely to cause confusion because of their similarity to the use of the colors of the school -- which were used, in some cases for decades, dating back to the late 19th century. Because of this use and familiarity by fans, the marks acquired "secondary meaning" entitling them to protection under the Lanham Act. As the court noted: "[The] use of the color scheme marks and their prominent display on merchandise, in addition to the well-known nature of the colors as shorthand for the schools themselves and Smack’s intentional use of the colors and other references," prove that secondary meaning occurred. The opinion added "we think this conclusion is consistent with the importance generally placed on sports team logos and colors by the public." With that in mind, the court had an easy time showing the likelihood of confusion element for trademark infringement because of the similarity to the schools' color and the marketing of the merchandise to the same retailers which sold trademark goods of the respective schools.
An interesting argument made by Smack was that the color scheme was "functional" and therefore not protectable. It claimed that the Universities’ colors on the t-shirts are functional because "the shirts allow groups of people to bond and show support for a philosophy or goal; facilitate the expression of loyalty to the school and a determination of the loyalties of others; and identify the wearer as a fan and indicate the team the fan is supporting." The panel rejected this kind of aesthetic use as a form of functionality.

This basis for this ruling could be applied to professional sports teams if a color scheme can be shown to be identified with a team (e.g. green, white and yellow for the Packers). What surprised me, however, was that the schools did not register their colors. They are fortunate that under U.S. trademark law (as opposed to most of the rest of the world) registration is not a pre-requisite for protection. Common law use merits protection. I still wonder why the schools did not make register the colors. They be consider doing so in the near future.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

OK, call me chicken!

Look what Santa brought me early for Christmas! Seven dear wee speckled chicks. We have at least two more hens sitting on clutches - one clutch is a bit of a communal one with at least three hens sharing 'sitting duties' - too cute! These little guys are now safely ensconced in the A-frame chicken house, having hatched in long grass NEXT to the house (of course).

Our chickens are basically free range. We do have a run for them and, from time to time they are locked up in it so we can collect their eggs but this year I have just let them pick about completely by themselves, supplementing them with kitchen scraps and I am going to be rewarded with more chicks than I know what to do with. Luckily for us our friends up the road have offered to take them off our hands and raise them for us. They'll come back eventually - smoked! *insert open mouth wide-eyed smiley here*!

My Ten Xmas Wishes

1: Billy Joel to Return to New Zealand next year.
2: Garth Brooks to come out of retirement.
3: Seinfeld to do a reunion show.
4: Andy Kaufman to announce he is alive.
5: New Zealand entertainment web pages to go one year without doing any stories on Z grade singers such as Britney, JLo, Spice Girls, Robbie Williams, Kate Perry or any other manufactured artists.
6: All boy racers to take a vow of suicide.
7: The warriors to win the NRL.
8: The Cardinals to win the NFL.
9: George Strait to come to New Zealand
10: Peace on earth.

Concert Clip Billy Joel New Zealand 2008

Once again, I didn't film this clip, I found it on youtube. Awesome concert.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Gone to the dogs (and cats) and Rory

I must admit that this year I have struggled to find my Christmas spirit. It's been quite a hard year emotionally having lost a dear little cat and three beloved horses, including two very special homebreds, in very difficult and trying circumstances but Christmas is a time for celebrating everything that we have to be grateful for and, as we have much to give thanks for, it's time to forget the bad things and celebrate the good. I decided it was also time that some of the animals got in on the act too so today Roscoe, Kruger and Omar would like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas!

Roscoe Kruger
Omar & Roscoe
and just because he is so cute, I popped out and took some pix of Rory. I took some Christmas spirit out to him and he was happy to don the antlers but he then managed to shake them off and tread on them and snap one - bad Rory! This little colt really is the apple of my eye right now. Sure, he aint the bay filly I ordered but, he's one right out of the box regardless and is going to make a very, very smart heavyweight hunter in a few years!

Rory walking
Rory standing
Head shot 1
Head shot 2
Bad Rory 1
Bad Rory 2
Bree got the day off yesterday as I had some hideous 24 hour bug that saw me with my head down the loo and a fever. No fun. I'm feeling heaps better today so will wait for the weather to settle a bit and go and get her in for a quick ride. I had a friend look at her with a view to leasing her on Friday but she was too forward for her so, it is back to the drawing board. I have another friend interested in her and she will come and see her on Christmas Eve.

Hamish has his very first pony mare arriving on Tuesday. She's got bloodlines that I just adore, being by Windermere Remember Me (Cusop Display/Desert Wings mare) out of an Arab mare Zannarah Naavana (Naaddel/Silver Sparkle mare). She is not a maiden which is a huge relief as the maiden mares we have had this season have been, without exception, complete trolls to serve/try to serve! The only maiden we have served who gave us no trouble was Rory's mum (her first foal, Rory, is the result of AI breeding). It makes you appreciate your own mares even more when the alternatives seem to want to make like so difficult!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

We helped our friends Karen and John put up their Christmas Tree today and during the proceedings Amy offered up this little impromptu performance for us and, as I managed to capture it, I would like to share it. I particularly like the bit towards the end where she has to fight off an attack of the 'smiles' - I think she covers well.

Friday, December 19, 2008

More on Steve Jobs

The more I read about Steve Jobs the more it is apparent to me that the man is dying. Apple is not being honest with its shareholders or the public which is stupid. Ultimately, this is Steve Jobs making this decision.

Jobs needs to come clean. He needs to make an appearance. He needs to tell the world what is up with him.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hey TVNZ, there are other sports people beside Lomu

Hey TVNZ, it was Olympic year, it was the year we had three Gold medalist, it was the year our Junior girls footballers took the world by storm and most important of all, it was the year that THE KIWIS WON THE RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD CUP!!!!!!

So why the heck on your last show of the year, your xmas show, your big star of the show to help celebrate Paul holmes retirement was Johan Lomu?

What a slap it the face to the Oylympians and the Kiwis. You guys are aware that he hasnt played for years and his big feat was 13 years ago.

It really doesnt matter what a kiwi sport does, does it TVNZ? No matter how great the feat is, no matter how historical, everything things comes down to Lomu, a retire union player who never won a world cup.

I feel sorry for famous people who come down here, because when they do, the only questions you guys can come up with is, "Have you heard of Lomu?"

So lets sum up, the kiwis won the world cup this year, our footballers did well, and we got three olympic medals, but as it has been since 1995 you guys can only gush and have time for a retired sports star who played a minorty sport.

Wake up TVNZ, Lomu is irrlevant, and a lot of people know that, except for NewZealand sports Journos.

I personally have nothing against Lomu, its the media attention that our one eyed journos give him, at the cost of current sports stars like Scott Dixion that I have a problem with.

So TVNZ, listen carefully, it's not 1995, its 2008, GET WITH THE PROGRAME.

Is Steve Jobs Dying?

There's a lot of rumors swirling about one of my heroes that he may be knocking on death's door. I hope not. But he does look skeletal, and he is ditching Macworld and letting his subordinates play a bigger role.

The sad reality is that one day Apple will carry on without Jobs. It sucks, but this is the way it is. Things might be better without Jobs, but I doubt it. So do a lot of other people.

Jobs is a big hero of mine, and I will do a blog post in the "heroes" section on him. He is a remarkable individual, and I would miss his innovative spirit and leadership. He is a true original.

Minority Football Coaches and Civil Rights (Updated and Moved to Top)

Update, Thursday, 1:00 p.m.:

Alert reader Michael Nichols has written in detail on this subject in a forthcoming piece in the Virginia Sports & Entertainment Law Journal.

The new-old controversy in college football is the lack of Black head coaches in Division I-A college football. With recent firings and resignations, there are four Black coaches (out of 119 schools) in a sport in which approximately 46 % of players are Black. Exacerbating this problem is the recent trend of current head coaches at major programs designating a current (usually white) top assistant as the new future head coach whenever the current coach retires, a process that pretermits any future coaching search in which outside, Black candidates might be considered for the job. Essentially, the practice locks-in the current state of coaching at many major schools.

Richard Lapchick, one of the leading scholars on collegiate sport, race, and society, criticizes this state of affairs. He argues that the NCAA should adopt a version of the NFL's "Rooney Rule," which requires that teams interview at least one minority candidate for a head coaching job. Lapchick calls his proposal the "Robinson Rule," after the late Eddie Robinson, the all-time-winningest D-I coach at historically back Grambling State (a D-I-AA school) who never even got an interview for a D-I-A head job.

So here are my questions for con law and employment-law types out there: Would such a rule be constitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment? The NCAA is not a state actor, but individual state schools would be in following and carrying out such a rule. So, given the current state of Equal Protection law, would it be unconstitutional for a governmental actor to automatically interview and give serious consideration to a minority for every position? Or, as to private schools, does it violate Title VII? Finally and conversely, would the NCAA's failure to adopt such a rule (or a similar rule designed to ameliorate the dearth of opportunities for minority coaches) violate Title VII (Lapchick reports that the Black Coaches Association is considering using Title VII to challenge current hiring practices)?

NFLPA Concerned about Bonuses and U.S. Tax Code Section 409A

Aaron Zelinksy of Yale Law School and The Huffington Post passes along a link to a story on Janell Grenier's Benefits Blog, which excerpts a story from Andrew Brandt on The National Football Post:

* * *

Even though 409A has been around now for three years, employers continue to be surprised at the implications, as evidenced by this story:

NFL agents were sent an urgent memo this week from the NFLPA, requiring immediate attention to Federal Tax Code 409A. This provision, originally aimed at bloated executive compensation packages, potentially calls for a full tax burden on signing bonuses and future guaranteed money in the year the package is negotiated, even if the money is deferred over several years. This would have dramatic ramifications.

Virtually every signing bonus of any significance in an NFL contract is paid out over a period of at least a couple of years. For instance, if an NFL player signed a contract in March 2008 with an $8M bonus, payment terms of that bonus might have looked something like this:

$2M upon execution of the contract;
$2M in October 2008;
$1M in both March and October 2009;
$1M in both March and October 2010.

Some teams have more deferrals than others, but the amount of deferral is usually not a sticking point in negotiations with agents, as the money is guaranteed. . .

The NFLPA was clear about the importance of this provision in its memo to all agents: “This memorandum identifies an extremely important tax issue that may affect your player-clients and requires your immediate attention. The NFL has just informed the NFLPA that NFL clubs did not draft or amend many NFL player contracts in order to bring them into compliance with Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code. As a result, many player contracts that include certain deferred compensation arrangements may not comply with the new tax provisions, thereby resulting in accelerated taxable income and/or an additional 20% tax, imposed on the player-client, unless the contracts are amended on or before December 31, 2008.”

* * *

For other Sports Law Blog posts on tax law, click here. For a post on the potential sports-related implications of President-elect Obama's tax plan (which calls for an increase in the top marginal tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent), click here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I am always one mistake away from termination.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I clambered aboard ...

I'm waiting to hear back from Bree's owner but I think it is 4 or 5 years since she was last ridden. She was very good but we definitely have our first goal - a nice free walk! There was a lot of very slow jog and although I tried to ride her as quietly as I possibly could, I barely managed more than half to three quarters of a 20m circle in walk. Still, it is good to have goals! And, that aside, she was an angel and I think we both enjoyed ourselves. Nick brought the camera out to take a few photos and, here they are. Tomorrow: MORE walk!

Headed down the race
Have an audience
Whoa Bree
Good girl
A walk?
Some more walk?
Seriously Bree, walk!
Argh, look UP woman!
A picture of concentration
Chillin' & relaxin'
Are we done yet?