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International Sports Law Blog

Is Antonio Brown getting a raw deal

Talented wide receiver Antonio Brown has been the news a lot this year. There was his demand to be traded from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Oakland Raiders. There was the controversial resistance to use a new and safer helmet the NFL required players to wear. Then there were the burns to his feet from a mishap in a cryotherapy chamber that helps with swelling. Tired of the drama, the Raiders released him September 7 before its first regular-season game. He was subsequently picked up on September 9 by the Patriots, whose coach Bill Belichick has a history of using talented but troubled players.

Sexual assault charges give the team an out?

Eastern Zone Swimming approves anti-discrimination policies

The Eastern Zone Swimming (EZS) approved a new policy barring it from doing business with discriminatory organizations. The group, which oversees 12 local swimming committees for USA Swimming, instituted this new policy because it believes that discriminatory practices violate the Sports Act, which gives certain rights and bargaining power to athletes in Olympic sports.

The measure was implemented in response to the location of the 2020 Zone Championship swim meet at Liberty University, an evangelical Christian college in Lynchburg, Virginia.

California assembly passes measure allowing colleges athletes to earn income

The money surrounding college sports is enormous, with college football and basketball being billion-dollar industries. Unlike professional sports where athletes are handsomely paid for their services, the governing body of the NCAA strictly forbids athletes from seeking sponsorships, endorsements and otherwise profiting from the use of their image and likeness. In other words, everyone is making a ton of money except the athletes.

Fair Pay to Play Act

Lynn Swann abruptly resigns as USC athletic director

Wide receiver Lynn Swann won many accolades as a football player, both as part of the four-time-Superbowl-winning Pittsburgh Steelers and during USC’s perfect season in 1972. He subsequently went on to a career that included TV broadcasting and a failed run for the Governor of Pennsylvania in 2006. More recently, he abruptly resigned as USC’s Athletic Director, after a tumultuous three-year run.

Irregularities in hiring

Pay for college athletes gaining momentum

Anyone who attends a Division 1 football game or the March Madness basketball tournament sees the incredible amount of money involved. The fact is that college sports are now big business. However, while professional athletes are paid millions of dollars to compete and many sign lucrative endorsement deals, the money in college sports bypasses the “scholar/athlete” and goes to schools, athletic departments, coaches, clothing companies, media companies and other businesses in the college sports food chain. 

There is now a report on Capitol Hill authored by Sen. Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut that calls for college athletes to be fairly compensated for their labor. This came to light as the FBI investigated an NCAA rule violation where money from Adidas went to top college basketball players, using assistant coaches and others as intermediaries.

Rob Gronkowski post-NFL career starts with cannabis oil

We have recently talked at length about the NFL’s stance on marijuana. Now former Patriot’s star tight end Rob Gronkowski - simply known as “Gronk” - has big plans for his next phase in life, including going into business with CBDMedic, which is a cannabis-based topical cream that is applied to aches and pains. He is not the first former NFL player to go into the CBD business, with more players signing up every day to be spokespersons, investors or both.

Always looking downfield

Less than one year to the Tokyo Olympics

The XXXII Olympic Summer Games will be held in Tokyo next year. There will be inspirational victories, crushing defeats, and inevitably, controversies involving athlete performance. Politics will play out on the global stage, ideally by showing signs of unity and sportsmanship among the international assembly of athletes. However, it likely will also involve Tweets from the White House. There will be laps in the pool and on the track. Balls will be thrown, caught, kicked, blocked and shot.

No one can tell the future beyond the above certainties, but here are some likely story lines involving athletes from the U.S. during the 2020 Olympic Games:

NFL hires Jay-Z to provide cover for treatment of Kaepernick

The NFL saw its collective honey pot crack when quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others kneeled during the national anthem before games in 2016. The reason was social justice, particularly regarding law enforcement’s treatment of African-American men, which is a demographic that makes up 75% of the players in professional football. The crack began to gush when Kaepernick, who started in a Superbowl for the 49ers and was in the prime of his career, found that no team was interested in signing him as a free agent after his seven-year contract worth $126 million was canceled after 2016. He was paid just $40 million.

Allegations of oppressive billionaire owners (none of whom are black) colluding against hiring activist players became rampant, and Kaepernick filed a grievance with the NFL, eventually receiving less than $10 million to settle earlier this year.

Student suspended for sexual misconduct claims discrimination

In June, a male student of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) filed suit against the school after he was suspended for alleged sexual misconduct. The unnamed student, identified in the complaint as “John Doe,” claims the school’s disciplinary process “was directly and indirectly designed to discriminate against male students on the basis of their sex.”

Athlete claims fertility treatments caused failed drug test

New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate is appealing a four-game suspension after the NFL ruled he violated the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Tate confirmed the suspension but said he plans to appeal the ruling.

The 10-year NFL veteran says the banned substance in question was a prescribed medication he was taking after he and his wife started seeing a fertility specialist in the off-season. Tate says he discovered the drug was on the league’s banned substance list just days after he began taking it.

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