LAW REVIEW SYMPOSIUM
Sports Law SYMPOSIUM Last March, the Willamette Law Review sponsored a symposium examining the future of sports law. Professor Jeﬀrey Standen conceived the theme for the symposium, recognizing the many diverse and exciting issues related to sports law. However, rather than describing the ﬁeld in its current state, Standen invited academicians from across the country to imagine how this dynamic area of law may change in the years to come. Participants accepted the challenge and did not disappoint. The ﬁrst panel of the day addressed player compensation and explored a number of the factors that affect how athletes perform and how they are paid for their performance. Michael McCann, professor of law at Mississippi College, began by talking about the potential effect of catastrophic events on sports. He discussed how large-scale natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, might inﬂuence franchise relocation decisions and athlete contracting choices. Standen followed with the controversial, but thought-provoking, proposition that athletes should be permitted to bet on their own games as a form of player compensation. Standen argued that such an arrangement would connect player incentives to team incentives, help sustain fan interest, and reduce the likelihood of athletes “throwing a game” or trying to beat the point spread. The second panel of the morning focused on international issues in sports law. Maureen Weston, professor of law at Pepperdine University, spoke about the high number of foreign athletes playing for colleges in the United States and the complex legal issues surrounding the recruitment and eligibility of these athletes. James Nafziger, the Thomas B. Stoel professor of law and director of International Law Programs at Willamette University, closed the panel with a discussion of the future of international sports law. Nafziger described the increasing globalization of sports and speculated about future legal challenges arising from this change. Attendees of the lunch symposium were treated to a special presentation by Professor Chad Ford of Brigham Young University– Hawaii. Not only is Ford a recognized scholar in the ﬁeld of
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intercultural conﬂict resolution, he covers the NBA and the NBA draft for ESPN. Ford discussed his involvement with the international basketball league, Playing for Peace, an organization dedicated to promoting “sustainable peace building” in divided communities, such as Israel, Palestine, the Balkans and Northern Ireland. After lunch, Professor Gordon Hylton of Marquette University and Professor Jack Williams of Georgia State University led a panel on the changing economic realities of sports as a business. Williams discussed the coming “revenue revolution in sports” and the earning potential of new revenue streams, such as the Internet, satellite TV and mobile phone subscriptions to sports events. Professor Williams argued that along with these alternative revenue sources comes a host of business and legal issues related to property law, privacy, publicity and value. Hylton suggested that the business of sports should be more highly regulated. He cited the failure of Congress to regulate franchise relocations in the 1990s as an example of its inability or unwillingness to regulate the sports industry as a whole. The last panel of the day dealt with the regulation of sports agent misconduct. Timothy Davis, professor of law at Wake Forest University, discussed the problems of professional malpractice and recruiting improprieties that often arise among athletes and sports agents. Davis advocated for stricter regulatory legislation and more stringent certiﬁcation standards for sports agents to solve this problem. Professor Richard Karcher of Florida Coastal School of Law agreed a problem exists, but argued that players’ unions should replace sports agents as athlete representatives. All of symposium participants contributed articles to the summer 2006 issue of Willamette Law Review, which is available on the College of Law Web site at www.willamette.edu/wucl/lawreview/. — Greg Rios Greg Rios JD’06 was the Willamette Law Review symposium editor for the sports law symposium.