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Sports Justice

The Law and the Business of Sports

Roger I. Abrams

Publication Year: 2010

An accessible guide to sports law highlighting landmark cases and personalities Americans, brought up playing or watching sports, absorb the notions of fair play not simply as integral themes of sportsmanship on the field, but also as values they try to carry into their everyday lives. In this accessible and fascinating look at law and sports, Roger I. Abrams shines the lights on the uniquely complex and important legal issues that face both amateur and professional athletes. From cases involving Title IX, transgendered athletes, rights of the disabled, violence on the playing field, individual and franchise free-agency, amateurism and college sports, and responsibility of leagues for the safety and lifelong health of injured players, Abrams weaves a profoundly moving and immediately relevant story of ever broadening access to, and expanding rights within, the field of sports. Abrams illuminates these legal cases through compelling storytelling and personal explorations of those involved, such as Jeremy Bloom, the world champion mogul skier who was barred from playing college football because he had modeled clothes for Tommy Hilfiger, and Casey Martin, Renee Richards, and the young gymnasts from Brown University who sought access to the sports they loved, but found that their quest to achieve justice required judicial intervention. There is also one non-athlete: Al Davis, the renegade owner of the Oakland–Los Angeles–Oakland Raiders, who beat the National Football League cartel using the antitrust laws in his effort to gain the respect he was always denied. Written for sports fans and legal scholars alike, this is an engrossing and surprising story of people battling for their careers and lives, and in the process changing the very nature of sports and society.

Published by: Northeastern University Press


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pp. c-ii

Title Page

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-vi

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Preface & Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-x

This is a book about rules: the rules of the game, which ensure a level playing field within sports, and the rules of law which apply to the business of sports. It is a book about the authoritative institutions that apply those rules: the courts, labor arbitrators, agencies, and private associations. It is also a book about the men and women who were involved in ten of the most important legal controversies in sports....


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p. 1-1

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Sports and the Law

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pp. 2-14

There is no easy way to explain the hold that sport has on our psyche and everyday lives. It is, for many of us, just part of what we are, perhaps the most important part of our inner lives. Playing sports can be beautiful, fun and therapeutic. Hippocrates wrote: “Sport is a preserver of health,” at least when done in moderation. Watching others compete in sports can...

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Chapter 1: Stay Out of My Court

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pp. 15-28

The mellifluous Howard Cosell insisted that sport was only the “toy department of human life.” He was wrong. Sport plays a far more central role in people’s lives, from pre-adolescence to dotage. They are a point of self-identification for many people. Sport in its various forms may consume more time in a person’s life than any activity other than work, including attending church and following politics....

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Chapter 2: Swing for the Green, If You Can

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pp. 29-47

The game of golf can be the epitome of human frustration. Unlike bowling, our nation’s most popular participation sport, no one ever shoots the equivalent of a 300 game in golf. No golfer ever pitches a perfect game, like Don Larsen for the Yankees in the 1956 World Series. Your goal in golf is to beat par by as many strokes as you can, but everyone — even Tiger...

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Chapter 3: Gender Identity in a Changing World

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pp. 48-62

Richard Raskind was a very good male tennis player, captain of the Yale University men’s team in 1955, and a journeyman professional athlete. Renee Richards was a very good female tennis player. Mr. Raskind became Ms. Richards after hormone treatment, extensive psychological counseling, and, ultimately, sex reassignment surgery. As a result, the U.S. Open,...

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Chapter 4: The Ideal of Amateurism

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pp. 63-82

The academic performance of America’s colleges and universities is a matter of great national pride. The smartest and most ambitious of the world’s youth long for the opportunity to further their education and their employment prospects by obtaining degrees at American institutions of higher learning. Faculty members at those institutions produce the scientific...

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Chapter 5: Sports Arbitration and Enforcing Promises

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pp. 83-95

Some sports commentators say that professional basketball players are the world’s finest athletes. Only a few men make it to the pinnacle of the sport, the National Basketball Association, although many more play in professional leagues around the world. For them the game can be quite lucrative, even without adding in their endorsement income. These tall,...

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Chapter 6: Gender Equity on the Parallel Bars

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pp. 96-119

The emergence of women’s collegiate sports at the varsity level has been a significant social phenomenon in the United States. The number of women participating in college sports has increased five-fold since the 1970s. This dramatic increase was the direct consequence of the enactment of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Under that statute,...

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Chapter 7: Sticks are Swinging, But Is It a Crime?

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pp. 120-134

Wayne Maki and Ted Green were rough, tough hockey players. They performed as the fans of the sport expected, with reckless disregard for their own bodies and their opponents’ physical well-being. Green had been an all-star in the National Hockey League, having played with the Boston Bruins for almost a decade at the time of the brutal incident that almost...

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Chapter 8: Al Davis, Pete Rozelle, and Franchise Free Agency

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pp. 135-157

Maybe there is something about the water in Brooklyn. Al Davis, Walter O’Malley, and Art Modell all spent their formative years in the City of Churches. They are best known in the professional sports world as idiosyncratic entrepreneurs who moved their franchises and, in the process, broke the hearts of millions of sports fans. While fans mostly focus on player free...

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Chapter 9: The Tight End, Freedom, and the Antitrust Laws

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pp. 158-177

Football began on the nation’s college campuses shortly after the end of the Civil War. An amalgam of English rugby and soccer, the game proved very rough. As a result, it was irresistible to the young men who played the sport, even if Cornell University’s president, Andrew D. White, disapproved of the pastime. (His “bag of wind” referred to the ball at the...

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Chapter 10: T.O. Meets the Arbitrator

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pp. 178-193

Arbitration has changed American sports. In the most famous sports labor arbitration case, arbitrator Peter Seitz ruled in December 1975 that baseball’s century-old reserve clause only preserved a club’s option to sign a ballplayer for one year after the expiration of his contract. Seitz had tried without success to get Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association...

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Conclusion: Justice for All

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pp. 194-198

These stories of sports justice at work tell tales of both courageous and outrageous participants in athletics and the sports business. Renee Richards and Al Davis used access to the courts to protect their statutory rights. John Mackey led the NFL Players Association during its formative years and used federal antitrust statutes to grant players free agency, only...

Notes on the Text

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pp. 199-204


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pp. 205-208


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pp. 209-214

E-ISBN-13: 9781555537357
E-ISBN-10: 1555537359
Print-ISBN-13: 9781555537005
Print-ISBN-10: 1555537006

Page Count: 228
Illustrations: 12 illus.
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Sports -- Law and legislation -- United States.
  • Athletes -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- United States.
  • Athletes with disabilities -- Law and legislation -- United States.
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