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Monday, July 20th, 2009 at 11:15 am  |  45 responses

Supreme Legal Battle for the Future of Sports?

American Needle vs. NFL is being looked at by some as a potentially major legal turning point for all four pro leagues: “Fast forward to a high-definition picture of sports late in 2010. Here is the news of the day, scrawling across the bottom of your TV screen or mobile Web device: LeBron James, who had been expecting a free-agency bonanza when his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers expired after the 2009-2010 season, opens the 2010-11 season with the Cavs, the only team with the right to sign him. Cleveland retains the NBA MVP by slotting his salary into the new league-wide scale…Legal scholars and experts agree that the case is of enormous significance. Gary Roberts, the dean of the Indiana University School of Law and the author of the leading textbook on sports law, tells ESPN.com that the case ‘could easily turn out to be the most significant sports law decision ever.”’

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  • Prison Mike

    I tried reading the article and I still do not understand. But if it means that LeBron will never win a championship, I’m all for the decision.

  • Steve McGillicutty

    Actually, what it means is that LeBron will be winning championships in ItaIy, because there is no way players of his caliber will stick around for this sh!t.

  • Steve McGillicutty

    Actually, what it means is that LeBron will be winning championships in Europe, because there is no way players of his caliber will stick around for this crap.

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    Sonia Sotomayor has a well-known baseball bias.

  • http://slamonline.com Brad Long

    Absolutely no way this happens.

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  • http://slamonline.com/ Tzvi Twersky

    It’s possible that if salaries drop too far and prices get too high, someone might be able to open a second successful league. AKA supply and demand, one of the most basic rules of microeconomics.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    Ok. Break it down for a simpleton please.

  • http://allanzuss@yahoo.com Mendel

    I have always wanted Vince McMan to open a XBL. I think it would go well.

  • http://slamonline.com/ niQ

    There is just too much to read in that article =.=

  • http://slamonline.com/ Tzvi Twersky

    Hursty, I just asked some1 to comment with a nice lil breakdown for ya. Hopefully he posts soon.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    Thanks Tzvi. I read the whole thing twice, and it’s still fuzzy to me.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Tzvi Twersky

    Once sec, hursty. What’s bugging you? The linked article or the econ involved?

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    Haha. The story man. I can read it fine, I just don’t understand it. I didn’t mean, like, the link didn’t work or anything. Sorry for the confusion. Thanks.

  • rav

    yet another sign that greed is going to destroy all sports…

  • Izzo

    I can see David Stern dancing right now…

  • http://adfji.com Jukai

    Hursty: Pretty much, if the NFL/NBA/MLB etc are ruled as a ‘single entity’ and not a group of competing entities, they can make whatever monetary rules they want without reprecussion from unions and anti-trust laws.
    The CBA would be null and void in an instant.

  • Izzo

    BTW Hursty:Anti trust laws=Competition laws,that may be confusing you,I had to look it up.Basically these sporting organisations would be run as a cartel,being able to control pricing etc.Salaries,free agency and players rights all go down.

  • Krishan

    But the question is why would the supreme court side with NFL? From every standpoint, a decision for the league would be bad for the sport. What possible reasoning would the justices have to approve this “single-entity” thing? I’m with blong, there is no way in h3ll this happens.

  • riggs

    wheres eboy when we need him.

  • Krishan

    Especially given the present economic climate in the US, choke-holding the consumers and forcing them to pony up for an environment that destroys competitive prices won’t work, or won’t work for very long. Not to mention the possibility of several and successive strikes and lockdowns. In all four major leagues.

  • Krishan

    This was a wonderful article by the way. Even if it came from ESPN.

  • http://adfji.com Jukai

    Krishan: the chances aren’t good that they’ll side with the NFL (there has been precedents set seven freaking times in the past shooting this down) but the fact that there IS A CHANCE is worrying.
    This is a very pro-business supreme court. They don’t care what’s good for the sport, just what is legally proficient. Once again, it’ll probably be shot down 7-2 or 6-3, but it’s scary to even consider the chances!

  • Izzo

    I’d consider the NBA to be far too centralized as it is.This would be catastrophic.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    How can the government rule to have businesses run under one entity instead of individually like they always have been? Doesn’t that go against everything America stands on? Or am I misunderstanding what ya’ll are saying??

  • Homie

    Just the very idea is unsettling. If they’re a single entity, then why bother competing for a championship? Why not just let the owners vote? It’s a bold move on the NFL’s part, but if it passes, you can bet that no pro sports league is ever getting a dime of my hard earned entertainment fund.

  • http://adfji.com Jukai

    TAD: You’re misreading, kind of. The Supreme Court would rule that the NBA in ITSELF is one giant entity, instead of 30 competing entities (whcih it is, it has separate owners fighting for power).
    They’re not ‘forcing’ a business to become one separate entity, but legally classifying it as such.
    Capish?

  • Sean

    This article is ridiculous. If the leagues do establish themselves as single business entity like this they could hypothetically restrict player/coach movement, pay…etc. But they aren’t gonna do that because because the best coaches and players would leave for another league that isn’t gonna go Joseph Stalin them.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Ahhh ok. I get it now…I think? But still, it makes no sense that they could ruling over this.

  • http://adfji.com Jukai

    Sean: Baseball players would leave for Japan, basketball players would leave for Europe.
    Where do Football players go?
    Notice who is spearheading this?

  • https://slamonline.com Allenp

    In truth, the NBA and NFL operate like single entities at times, and at other times they act like competing businesses. It’s an interesting issue. I think the Leagues already have too much anti-trust protection, but I think the Supreme Court is going to side with them since their is no other reason for the court to hear the case.
    And it’s unlikely that there will be a mass exodus if these rules are changed. Too many players are beholden to the lifestyles that the League’s provide and most fans could care less about how athletes are treated.

  • http://adfji.com Jukai

    Allenp: entirely untrue. This would effectively kill the thrill of an off-season for the fans.

  • Jer Boi

    Wow, I read the article tried googling, couldn’t find nothing that would make me understand the article. Then, I read the comments and walla, I understand. Thank you people

  • http://slamonline.com/ niQ

    Jer Boi I think you meant “Voila.”

  • Quail

    We need to form a group and stick it to the man! Amen?

  • Prison Mike

    Maybe they will start televising Europe games in America then. I would really like to see that. Do they play during the summer? It’s better than not watching basketball here.

  • Harrell

    What has this countrys laws done to us

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    LOL – Guys, guys, guys… ALOT OF THIS is journalistic beat-up. I’ve read through this and find it very amusing, if not informative. Let me try and explain what the situation being discussed is about…

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    First and foremost lets discuss what this started out to be about:
    ___
    American Needle, Inc. (ANI) is a company that was trying to make it’s own business activity successful (they made trademarked merch for the “NFL” as a business partner. Their trading terms and activity was cancelled after some years of work (4 yrs I believe it was). That in and of itself isn’t illegal, but obviously someone thought that there was a case for an ‘antitrust’ complaint – so they took it to court. Basically anti-trust laws state that there are acts in place (adopted by Congress) to outlaw or restrict business practices considered to be monopolistic or which restrain interstate commerce.
    ___
    This company therefore wanted to say in court, “Hey your unfairly restraining my ability to keep a share of the economic market place?!”.
    ___
    The NFL said “No we aint?!” and won the series of court hearings regarding this – But American Needle pushed it further and then in a backflip move the NFL said “Okay, lets go to the supreme court and take it even further?!?!”
    Why? For this {quoted}…”It wants the court to grant the NFL total immunity from all forms of antitrust scrutiny”.
    ___
    Whats THAT mean?

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    Basically, that means in my understanding that, yes the NFL (and by association, other sports leagues) want more power, but not by being a monopoly, just by not being undermined in an economic/commercial sense.
    ___
    How so?
    Essentially, sporting teams cannot have a ‘true monopolistic hold’, over their players or their fan base. We can choose to follow or not follow, to buy or not buy and the case is the same with the players. A player can choose to hold out or not sign at their discretion, sure things like lock-outs can occur, but at the end of the day it’s in everyone interest for this to not happen so the players will essentially get more freedoms contractually.
    I think we”ll be alright fans.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    SO WHAT DOES THE NFL WANT TO DO AGAIN?
    ___
    What the NFL want to challenge about this though, is that BECAUSE they cannot be a monopolistic entity they want to still endeavour to streamline their activities – now I don’t think we can say just what that means for yearly free-agent activity, or contract bargaining agreements but I can say that it won’t have a drastic impact on the product we receive year in/year out. We get to watch a high calibre level of players compete in sporting games for recognishing and championships: How much they get paid for it, and where they play….will be entirely up to them.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    recognishing…?
    Thats a new one…
    I think he meant, recognision, recognishon, recog… RESPECT?!?! dammit.

  • Esco

    Recognition.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    Oh… the ‘T’ is in there!??!
    Thanks.

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