Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Sports Law Hall of Fame

The business of sports has grown exponentially over the past several decades and, not coincidentally, so too has the field of sports law.  For better or worse, collective bargaining, professional league labor stoppages, age eligibility for drafts, Title IX, PEDs, fantasy sports, and the NCAA are all part of the fabric of athletics. Rather than ask ourselves how did we get here, perhaps it’s time to credit those individuals and events that have defined what we now refer to as “Sports Law."

As such, I am proposing we—sports lawyers everywhere and the Sports Law Blog in particular—begin talk of a “Sports Law Hall of Fame.” The SLHOF is an idea, and will need to be defined collectively by industry experts and historians. However, as a start, I propose three categories for inclusion into the SLHOF:

1. Practitioners

This category would include individuals who, through their efforts, have advanced the field of sports law. Potential candidates could include Marvin Miller, Bob Woolf, Don Fehr, David Stern, etc.

2. Athletes

It is sports after all and athletes have played a pivotal role in shaping our industry. Curt Flood, Reggie White, Andy Messersmith, Spencer Haywood, Oscar Robertson, Maurice Clarett, etc.

3. Educators

As a faculty member I’m biased, but I’d argue it takes teachers to advance the concept of sports law. To be considered, one needs to be retired.  Paul Weiler and Bob Berry seem like fine first inductees.

4. Memorabilia

While plaques of contributing individuals would be interesting, what I really want to see would be historic memorabilia such as:
  • The letter Curt Flood wrote MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn on December 24, 1969.
  • The check, un-cashed, from the NFL to the USFL for $ 3.76 representing the trebled damages ($1) and interest for their antitrust infringement?
  • Spencer Haywood's contract with the NBA's Seattle Supersonics triggering the draft eligibility debate in professional athletics.
  • The letter from Bart Giamatti that was faxed to all MLB teams on March 6, 1989 outlining baseball’s agreement with Pete Rose?
  • Any correspondence between Al Davis and the NFL related to franchise relocation.
  • The letter from Brown University's athletic director to the gymnastics and women's volleyball coaches letting them know that their sports had been cut.
The Sports Law Blog is now taking nominees and recommendations on memorabilia to include in our Hall of Fame.

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