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The Blitz – 2/9/2020

The Blitz

February 9, 2020

Our picks for the
Ten Most Interesting Sports Law Stories
from the past week.

When you read number 10, remember, I said, “interesting,” not necessarily meritorious.


Right-wing activist wants to sue the NFL because its halftime show ‘put me in danger of hell fire’

(New York Daily News-Brian Niemietz)   Shakira and her hips will have to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth if right-wing activist Dave Daubenmire gets his way.  The former central Ohio high school football coach said on his webcast that he wants to sue the NFL over its racy Super Bowl show Sunday, which featured performances by “Booty” singer Jennifer Lopez and “Hips Don’t Lie” crooner Shakira….According to Daubenmire, the mid-game performance, which featured scantily clad dancers including Lopez, who did a pole dance, could have caused young boys to get horny… Continue reading.


Older Referees Say NCAA Black-Balled Them From D-1

(Courthouse News-Christine Stuart)  Rarely if ever assigned Division-I games these days, three referees who have been with the NCAA for more than a decade filed suit in New York for age discrimination.

“All three continue to receive highly favorable evaluations of their referring skills,” the 27-page filing states. “However, despite his continuing exemplary referring performance, the number of game assignments plaintiffs recently have received have declined precipitously.”

Representatives for the NCAA’s legal department did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit, which says the referees are facing discrimination on the basis of age.  Continue reading…    See also:   Refs Accuse NCAA Of Age Discrimination In ‘Youth Movement’  (Law360-Ryan Boysen)


Discovery phase continues as May trial looms in USWNT’s equal pay lawsuit

(The Equalizer-Kelsey Trainor) There’s been little talk about the United States women’s national team’s equal pay lawsuit during Concacaf qualifying, but before the team seeks gold on the field in the 2020 Olympics, they will face their biggest trial off the field with a May trial date looming between the players and the federation.

In the latest update in Alex Morgan v. United States Soccer Federation, U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner issued an order allowing players not currently in the case to be notified via email of their opt-in status.  Continue reading…

Former top Olympics doctor sues, claims he was fired for standing up for athletes

(Washington Post-Will Hobson)  A former top medical official with the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee sued the organization Wednesday, alleging he was fired in retaliation for speaking out about Olympic officials’ treatment of athletes.

In the lawsuit, filed in local district court in Denver, William Moreau, the USOPC’s former vice president of medicine, also alleged that an Olympic athlete committed suicide after Moreau’s pleas to obtain mental health counseling for her went ignored.  Continue reading…  See also:  Former USOPC Exec Says He Was Fired For Reporting Abuse   (Law360-Mike Curley)


Russian Doping Hearing Should Be Public, WADA Says

(Law360-Kelly Zegers)  The Court of Arbitration for Sport should let the public hear Russia’s challenge to being banned internationally for allegedly altering doping-test data, the World Anti-Doping Agency said Monday.

WADA had announced in December that Russia was banned from hosting or participating in international sports events for four years, including the 2020 Olympic Games and the 2022 World Cup, after it found that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, or RUSADA, hid and falsified records related to its doping scandal.

“It is WADA’s view — and that of many of our stakeholders — that this dispute at CAS should be held in a public forum to ensure that everybody understands the process and hears the arguments,” WADA Director General Olivier Niggli said in a press release Monday.  Continue reading…


MLS, MLSPA agree on new CBA to run through 2024 season

( Borg)  Major League Soccer and the Major League Soccer Players Association (MLSPA) have announced they’ve reached an agreement in principle on the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) which covers five full seasons from 2020 to 2024 (term runs from Feb. 1, 2020 through Jan. 31, 2025).  The deal is subject to formal approval by the MLS Board of Governors and the MLSPA membership.  Continue reading…


Two stories land in our #4 spot regarding college athletes’  NIL rights legislation.

Florida lawmakers want NCAA athletes to get paid now: ‘If it’s wrong, why wait?’

(Washington Post-Rick Maese)  All eyes were on California last year, as lawmakers worked to undo the NCAA’s tightly-wound rules governing amateurism and banning athlete compensation. In September, the governor there signed a bill allowing the state’s college athletes to seek endorsement dollars. It was landmark legislation, celebrated by athletes and their advocates, but it came with one caveat: The law doesn’t take effect until 2023.

Less than five months later, as statehouses across the country follow California’s example, the focus has shifted to Florida, where lawmakers are trying to upend the system much more quickly.  Florida…is one of two states considering bills that would take effect this summer, potentially opening the doors for athletes to begin seeking out financial opportunities before the next college football season kicks off.  Continue reading…

New Jersey’s SB 971 is the Compromise of 1850 Reincarnated

(Advocacy for Fairness in Sports-Derek Helling)  New Jersey SB 971, a bill that advanced out of the N.J. Senate’s Higher Education Committee on Thursday is a perfect representation of why these measures on a state level will fail to meet their stated goals. No matter how altruistic and heroic the intents of those who sponsor and support the bills in the disparate states considering similar motions are, the measures will ultimately prove as ineffective as the Compromise of 1850 in United States history. Continue reading…    See Also: (Law360-Zach Zagger)  NJ Senate Keeps Pressure On NCAA As Pay Bill Advances,


Another “twofer.”

Fantasy Sports Is Illegal Gambling In NY, Appeals Court Says

(Law360-Zach Zagger) A New York appeals court on Thursday found that daily fantasy sports contests, like those offered by DraftKings and FanDuel, are illegal, striking down a 2016 law that unconstitutionally expanded gambling in the state.

Upholding a lower court ruling, The New York Appellate Division, Third Department, said so-called interactive fantasy sports contests fit within the state’s penal code definition of gambling because the results of the contests depend on the performance of players outside the control of the games’ contestants. The appeals court struck down the law because it violates the state’s constitutional prohibition on expanding legal gambling.  Continue reading…

Deja vu. Daniel Wallach wrote this four years ago predicting this the outcome.

NY Fantasy Sports Law May Face Constitutional Roadblock

(Law360-Daniel Wallach, June 21, 2016, 11:34 AM EDT)  The months-long legislative battle to legalize daily fantasy sports in New York has mercifully ended following an all-day Friday/early Saturday morning marathon session, culminating in the passage of NY Senate Bill 8153 by an unexpectedly wide margin (45-17) in the Republican-controlled chamber, nearly 12 hours after the New York Assembly (the other chamber in the statehouse) passed an identical version of the DFS bill by a lopsided 91-22 vote. But while the legislative battle may be over (with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo expected to sign the measure into law within a matter of days), that does not necessarily mean that DFS has cleared its final legal hurdle in New York. A constitutional showdown may be on the horizon.  Continue reading…


Why Daily Fantasy Players Are Suing MLB Over Sign Stealing

(Sports Illustrated-Michael McCann)   The electronic sign-stealing scandal in Major League Baseball is now the subject of multiple federal lawsuits.

DraftKings contestant Kristopher Olson recently filed a 52-page complaint that directly links the cheating scandal to consumer rights. Olson argues that MLB, the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox engaged in unlawful business practices at the expense of himself and other daily fantasy sports contestants. Olson aims for his lawsuit, which will be tried in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and presided over by Judge Jed Rakoff, to become certified as class action. Olson hopes that the case culminates in a successful jury trial where he and more than 100 other class members are collectively awarded at least $5 million in monetary damages.  Continue reading…


Sources: NFLPA to vote on 17-game season in new CBA

(ESPN-Chris Mortensen & Adam Schefter)  In a critical step that may change the NFL landscape for at least the next 10 years, the NFL Players Association will convene again after Super Bowl LIV to conditionally vote for or against a 17-game regular-season schedule that likely would commence in 2021 as a new collective bargaining agreement is on the brink of a make-or-break situation, according to sources.

All 32 team player representatives, along with the NFLPA executive board, will meet at an undisclosed location to review a 10-year labor contract for the second time within a week that, as one source described, the players have the option to “accept the one thing they hate, a 17-game season, in exchange for 10 or more things they want.”  Continue Reading…

Recent filings for many of these cases as well as others can be found in our new feature, The Docket in addition to the numerous case files in our Document Cloud Project.

Also Notable:

NFL Game Pass crashes for international fans during final three minutes of Super Bowl   (The Athletic-Daniel Popper)

$123M in fake Super Bowl merch seized by CBP, DHS, ICE ahead of big game      (Fox News, Wilmington-Victor Garcia)

The NFL Is Hiring Its First Vice President Of Sports Betting  (Legal Sports Report-Brad Allen)

What Will It Take to Stop Service Time Manipulation in MLB?   (Sports Illustrated-Michael McCann)

Ex-White Sox Workers Indicted In Ticket-Selling Scheme   (Law360-Craig Clough)

USAG Bankruptcy Pulls Abuse Victims Into Insurance Fight   (Law360-Zach Zagger)

Olympic Committee Insurer Aims To Salvage Coverage Suit (Law360 -Jack Queen)

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Rape Case Was Always Likely to End Like This   (Sports Illustrated-Michael McCann)

Barstool Sports Faces New NLRB Charge Over Union Mockery   (Law360-Braden Campbell)

Advocates Say DOJ Should’ve Tried To Undo Live Nation Deal   (Law360-Matthew Perlman)

While you’re here you might want to check out this Advocacy for Fairness in Sports investigative story.  A follow-up is in the works for next week.  (Spoiler alert:  We finally located the doctors and more.)

doctors in a boxWho Hid the NFL Disability Doctors?

Sometimes what you see tells a story.  Sometimes what you don’t see tells an even bigger one.  Both statements are true when it comes to the NFL’s Bert Bell-Pete Rozelle Retirement/Disability Plan.

Players have a very difficult task in qualifying for disability benefits, especially if their injuries are related to their careers, and the most difficult level of all to qualify for is “Active Football,” which means the player became disabled within six months of the end of his career.  Often players leave the game injured and think they’ll get better.  Often they try to rehab for more than six months before they give up and decide to apply for disability, but should they wait six months and a day after their last game, they’ll be forever locked into a lower benefit tier without extensive litigation and often even when they litigate.

Continue reading

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