Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Sports Law Links

* Mark Cuban wonders why more superstar U.S. teenage basketball players don't go play professionally in Europe, where players can be as young as 14 and earn lucrative contracts. The NBA, as we know, requires that U.S. players be 19-years-old and one-year removed from high school before they are eligible to play.

The European route was clearly successful for Brandon Jennings, who played professionally in Italy for one-year before becoming eligible for the 2009 NBA draft.
Jennings earned about $1.2 million in Italy between salary and endorsement income -- obviously more than he would have "earned" while playing as a freshman in college, assuming he had overcome his eligibility issues.

The international experience has been much less successful for 6'11 power forward Jeremy Tyler, however. Tyler skipped his senior year of high school and struggled playing professionally in Israel in 09-10. Then again, Tyler has been much more impressive this season while playing in Japan's pro basketball league--a league which has former NBA players in it, including Bruce Bowen and Jerold Honeycutt. Tyler is averaging an efficient 9 points, 6 rebounds and 14 minutes per game while drawing consistent praise from his coach. Tyler is eligible for this year's NBA draft -- his recent improvement in play, not to mention impressive size and athletic ability, probably will land him on an NBA roster next season.

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* Shira Springer of the Boston Globe has an excellent preview of this week's MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference (hat tip to Warren Zola). I will be speaking at the conference on the Sports Labor Relations panel.

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* How would you like to study international sports law in Florence, Italy over the summer and get law school credit for it? The South Texas College of Law is sponsoring a study abroad program in Florence between June 3 and June 25 that will focus on two courses: international amateur sports law and international professional sports law. NFL agent/attorney and former NFL player Ralph Cindrich is one of the instructors, as is South Texas College of Law prof James Musselman. Sounds like an awesome experience to me.

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* Last year I wrote a guest column on Torts Prof Blog on the tort implications of "game presentation" -- the various things stadium operators do to keep fans interested during games, including on-court and on-field promotions -- in the context of Coomer v. Kansas City Royals, a lawsuit filed by a guy who while attending a Royals game was injured by a hot dog that had been propelled by the Royals Mascot as part of a promotion. A couple of weeks ago, the Royals lost a motion for summary judgment in the case. Carla Varriale of Athletic Business Network has the story on the Royals' inability to get rid of the case and what it means for game presentation.

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* I was interviewed on the Dennis and Callahan Show on WEEI Boston last week to talk about legal issues involving Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and DJ Henry (a Pace football player who was shot and killed by a police officer in a terrible misunderstanding of a situation). I also spoke with Drew Forresster of WNST Baltimore about Bonds, Clemens and the NFL labor crisis, and how NBA players might be in a better position than NFL players when it comes to being locked out: some NBA players, particularly the stars, will have opportunities to go play in Europe and earn considerable $$, while playing with and against legitimate talent (while European basketball may not be as "good" as the NBA, it's far better than the D League or some other minor league).

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* NBA Deputy commissioner Adam Silver claims that three-quarters of NBA teams are losing money, even though NBA television ratings are way up this season.

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* UConn men's basketball coach has been suspended by the NCAA for the first three games of next season. The Hartford Courant's Paul Doyle has the story and interviews, among others, Connecticut Sports Law's Dan Fitzgerald.

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* Do Male Athletes have Body-Image Problems? Admittedly, that's not a question I've thought much about, or maybe at all, but Libby Sander of The Chronicle of Higher Education explains why it's an interesting topic and why new research on the topic may shed light on behavior issues with male athletes.

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Before the Red Sox offered 29-year-old outfielder Carl Crawford a 7-year, $142 million contract this past off season, they obviously did their due diligence on him. After-all, the contract is fully guaranteed and the financial commitment being made is enormous, especially for a player who will turn 30 this season and whose game is based to a large extent on his speed. As Gordon Edes of points out, the Red Sox took due diligence to a such a point that it creeped out Crawford:
[Red Sox Assistant GM] Allard Baird, who oversees the club's pro scouting department, was assigned to scout Crawford for most of the second half of the 2010 season.

"I knew they were scouting me," Crawford said. "Coaches would tell me this guy asked about you, or that guy."

But he said he had no inkling they were monitoring him off the field, too.

"I definitely look over my shoulder now a lot more than what I did before," he said. "Just when he told me that, the idea of him following me everywhere I go, was kind of, I wasn't comfortable with that at all.

"I don't know how they do it, how much distance they keep from you when they watch you the whole time. I definitely check my back now, at least 100 yard radius. I'm always looking over my shoulder now. Now I look before I go in my house. I'd better not see anything suspicious now."

Kind of reminds of me when the NBA "ordered its security forces" to more closely follow NBA players off-the-court.

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