Where the Regulation of Violence in Sports Will Inevitably Extend: The Stands & Outside the Stadium/Arena
The professional and college sports industries have without question reached milestones with respect to revenue generation over the past decade. Both the National Football League and the National Basketball Association experienced pre-season lockouts and subsequent consuming negotiation sessions with their respective players’ unions concerning profit sharing. In 2010, the NCAA signed a monumental $10.8 billion contract with CBS Corporation and Time Warner Inc.’s Turner Broadcasting for the media rights to its beloved Men’s Division I College Basketball Tournament, known by most as March Madness.
It goes without saying that fans are the impetus behind such revenue growth. Whether a country and its citizens are facing a recession—even bankruptcy—or marvelous economic times, avid followers and fans of professional and college sports teams will pay hard-earned money for the pleasure drawn from watching talented athletes perform for up to three hours on the field, court or ice. Fans will do so by attending such events, watching them at bars/restaurants, or through the purchase of oversized, flat-screen televisions for home. David Levy, the President of Turner Sports, acknowledged in signing the March Madness media contract with the NCAA that “the tournament’s popularity and success [had outgrown] the ability for one network to provide all the coverage fans are looking for.” Similarly, CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus recognized, “the opportunity for viewers to watch whatever game they want to on up to four different networks has to result in more eyeballs, more gross rating points and more exposure for the tournament, thereby creating much more value for the advertisers.”
I think it’s awesome that fans of professional and college sports teams continue to use this source of entertainment as an escape from the struggles facing the lives of individuals on a daily basis in many countries around the globe, including financial turmoil, disease, death and general unhappiness. However, over the same decade that the sports industry has experienced rapid revenue growth and increased popularity, the fan experience at and following sporting events has become more violent, tragic and unpleasant. A problem clearly exists that neither the professional leagues, the NCAA Directors nor the athletes have sufficiently addressed, or are even equipped to address.
Indeed, the European professional soccer leagues have essentially condoned fan violence since their creation. The Philadelphia Eagles’ late Veterans Stadium maintained holding cells to accommodate unruly fans. These facts represent proof that the sports industry has accepted violence as part of the overall fan experience for quite some time. For instance, in 2004, Lakers forward Ron Artest—or as legal documents now refer to him, Metta World Peace—climbed into the stands as an Indiana Pacer at The Palace of Auburn hills to exchange punches with a few rambunctious fans. In 2010, I attended a New York Jets game in New York as an Atlanta Falcons fan and was threatened by four Jets fans following the Falcons’ last minute defeat of the Jets. Fortunately, violence never ensued, though not as a result of action taken by stadium security. In 2011, a San Francisco Giants fan experienced the wrath of Dodger Stadium when several Dodger fans beat him almost to the point of death. And just a few weeks ago, University of Kentucky basketball fans nearly burned down and destroyed Lexington, KY, following the Wildcats’ Final Four win over state rival Louisville to gain a spot in the National Title game.
However, what has either been condoned or overlooked by these leagues and the NCAA will inevitably draw a divide between fans, compelling those who are visiting the home stadium or establishment (e.g., sports bar) of an opposing team to discontinue their participation. This decreased fan participation and interest will inevitably compel revenue to decline for the professional sports leagues, the NCAA, media outlets and corporate partners and sponsors. Should violence and unpleasant behavior by fans persist at or following sporting events, how could it not have a domino impact on the sports industry?
So, where should we as fans and professionals in the industry place blame and seek assistance in preventing this evolving problem? First and foremost, responsibility should be placed on the individuals who are involved in such inappropriate behavior. Fans have progressively turned their allegiance to sports teams into something personal. However, sustaining a loss through a favorite team is not analogous to losing a love one. Fans must realize that their personal lives will continue unscathed, so long as they categorize sporting events as entertainment and nothing more. This point allows me to transition to my second and final position. The professional sports leagues, the NCAA, the athletes, the media outlets and the corporate partners and sponsors must take on the responsibility of reminding fans of this fact. Indeed, most professional sporting venues stop serving alcohol at a certain point during team play. College venues refuse to serve alcohol altogether. Great, by taking alcohol out of the picture, these entities and individuals have indirectly implied to the fans that they should behave responsibly. However, I’m asking—maybe even pleading to—these same entities and individuals to make a direct and blatant statement to the fans: “Stop the violence and inappropriate behavior!” The NFL has already done so much to prevent violence on the field in an effort to protect its brand and revenue stream. Take the next step and prevent it from occurring in the stands and outside the stadium.
Hey guys, it’s your money, not mine, that’s being placed on the line.
After a week hiatus, we’re happy to bring back this week’s Friday Morning Workout. Plenty of things to get your sports mind going on one of the last Summer Friday’s.
Former NFL QB Jim McMahon is part of a group of former players suing the NFL over concussion related injuries
Terrelle Pryor will be allowed to participate in next week’s NFL Supplemental Draft, but will be suspended for five games. Sounds like Roger Goodell wants to be commish of the NFL and the NCAA.
Proof that the only way to spur the economy is more sports. Forbes examines how Boston is growing because of sports.
I’m only linking NASCAR here because of the Michigan ties. Apparently Pure Michigan is sponsoring a race, and its paying off for them.
The Wilpons will be in court today, trying to get at least part of the $1 billion lawsuit against them dismissed. After this week’s earlier ruling by the 2nd Circuit, it doesn’t look promising.
The New Meadowlands Stadium, home of the New York Giants and New York Jets, is going to be known as MetLife Stadium. MetLife was already a cornerstone sponsor for the stadium, paying about $7M a year. The naming rights deal will cost them somewhere in the neighborhood of $20M a year.
For the doctors and Padres fans out there, a sad story of a star prospect forced into early retirement.
It’s probably not a good idea to invest in sports in Denver. Apparently they can’t even support the franchises they have.
Fox and the UFC reached a groundbreaking deal to put UFC on network TV. F/X will have the cable rights. Boxing better get its act together, because MMA is clearly in the driver’s seat right now.
NBA players looking to go to Europe may have hit a roadblock. Apparently the insurance is very expensive.
And in case you were under a rock, make sure to read this incredible story about the rampant NCAA rule breaking occuring at the University of Miami since 2002.
Former UGA football coach Jim Donnan accused of making millions via a Ponzi scheme.
Mendenhall Sues Champion based on his terminated endorsement deal.
15 Popular Athletes who squandered their millions—many of whom you’d never guess.
Odds are good that Clemens will face another trial despite his argument regarding double jeopardy.
USC’s Kiffin suspends senior starting running back Marc Tyler for making inappropriate comments to TMZ.
Lance Armstrong fights back against prosecuting attorneys, claiming they leaked inappropriate grand jury investigation information to the media.
Laker’s Odom was a passenger in a vehicle that struck and seriously injured a motorcyclist and killed a young pedestrian in New York.
Bengals’ Cedric Benson jailed on assault for the second consecutive off-season.
Deron William and Zaza Pachulia officially sign contracts to play in Turkey contingent upon the NBA work stoppage continuing through the start of the season.
LA Lakers longtime trainer Gary Vitti recounts the days leading up to and after Magic’s announcement to the world that he had contracted HIV.
Once the NFL season commences, replay officials will automatically review every scoring play during NFL games, likely lengthening games considerably.
The Women’s World Cup final set the record for tweets per second.
Tiger Woods abruptly fires caddie Steve Williams after a 12-year relationship in which Tiger won 72 times and 13 major tournaments.
Rick Reilly’s suggestions to Tiger concerning how he can revamp his image and his game.
SEC Commissioner Slive opened the Southeastern Conference media day on Wednesday by pushing the NCAA to make extreme changes, including toughening academic requirements for student-athletes and broadening recruitment rules. Interestingly, Slive chose to push for these changes in a year when more than one of his schools faces sanctions or an investigation by the NCAA.
75 Ex-players sue the NFL and Helmet maker Riddell, claiming defendants intentionally withheld from players their knowledge about the long-term, adverse impact of multiple concussions on the brain.
Former NFL GM Vinny Cerrato offers five rules that the 32 NFL teams should follow when tackling this year’s abnormally short free agency period. Can these teams feasibly sign hundreds of players in a number of days?
Ivy League football decreases full contact practices from five to two a week to limit the risk of concussions.
The NCAA strikes again, sanctioning the LSU football team after an assistant coach improperly provided a JUCO player transportation and housing.
A generation with a strong sense of self-entitlement is rewarded for pouting.
Chad Ocho Cinco, allergic to the sun?!?
Welcome to your Friday Morning Workout, THIRDandFOUR’s new weekly post for those of you who missed the week’s news concerning sports law, sports business, sports media, or sports public relations. Dig in and make sure you break a sweat!
Selig fully supports David Einhorn’s purchase of one-third of the Mets from principal owners Fred Wilpon and family, notwithstanding the $1-billion plus lawsuit that has been brought against the Wilpons by Trustee Irving Pickard on behalf of victims of Bernard Madoff’s ponzi scheme. The Court recently granted the Wilpons’ motion to move the case from the bankruptcy court to a federal district court, where Judge Rakoff likely will limit the plaintiffs’ recovery based on a theory that the Wilpons’ failure to investigate Madoff’s investments did not constitute “willful blindness” or culpable intent. Read more.
Erin Andrews opens up about her stalker. Read more.
The assistant to Canadian sports doctor Anthony Galea claims that though the doctor treated Tiger Woods after his 2009 knee surgery, he did not inject Woods with any illegal substances. Read more.
Shaquille O’Neal decides to join TNT’s NBA Coverage. Read more.
Former Cowboy’s wide receiver and sports commentator Michael Irvin appears shirtless on the cover of the gay men’s magazine Out, where he explains that his passion for marriage equality is a direct result of his relationship with his gay brother who died from cancer in 2006. Read more.
ESPN Now Making Candy Bars too? Read more.
The NFL and the NFL Players Association project that they will ratify a new CBA by July 21, 2011 in order to save the entire NFL pre-season. The most complex issues yet to be resolved through negotiations are veteran free agency and the rookie wage system. Read more.
See how sports figures use Twitter. Read more.
The NFL salary cap will undoubtedly be lower than before once a CBA is adopted. With a hypothetical $120 million cap, the following six teams already exceed it: (1) the Dallas Cowboys; (2) the Oakland Raiders; (3) the New York Giants; (4) the Pittsburg Steelers; (5) the Minnesota Vikings; and (6) the Indianapolis Colts. Read more.
CNBC’s SportsBiz expert Darren Rovell provides 100 rules for using Twitter. Read more.
Pursuant to the 1999 NBA collective bargaining agreement, the NBA withholds 8% of player salaries and places it into escrow each season to ensure that these salaries do not exceed 57% of league revenues. Unlike every other season, the NBA will soon return this year’s money to the players due to increased revenue throughout the 2010-11 season—a welcome surprise for certain players and fuel to the players’ argument that the League does not need to overhaul the current financial system. Read more.
Julie Roe Lach, the NCAA’s Vice President of Enforcement, has made it clear that the NCAA is not done investigating Auburn with respect to its dealings with Cam Newton. Read more.
ESPN initiates suit against Ohio State University, accusing the school of violating the state’s public records law by denying requests for information concerning the NCAA’s investigation of Tressel and Pryor. Read more.
Despite Prince Fielder’s displayed adoration for his sons during the MLB All-Star festivities this week (a true image booster), he has no intentions of rebuilding the torn relationship between him and his father, former all-star first baseman Cecil Fielder. Read more.
Sports Illustrated’s List of 100 people in Sports To Follow on Twitter. Read more.
Adam Pacman Jones may have, for once, been profiled and improperly targeted leading up to his July 10th arrest. Read more.
The NCAA nabs its next victim: Georgia Tech over a mere $312. Read more.
Over the past few years, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (the “NCAA” or the “Association”) has flexed its muscles via the enforcement arm of Division I Collegiate Football. The Association has investigated and/or sanctioned a number of elite programs and former or current student athletes, including my alma mater the University of Southern California (USC) and former USC running back Reggie Bush. Many individuals and organizations perceive the NCAA as the guardian of student athletes and an organization that takes extreme measures to clean up the environment surrounding intercollegiate athletics by, among other things, preventing the infiltration of the NCAA and its collegiate institutions by agents, boosters and other outsiders that aim to exploit student athletes. However, a cursory review of the NCAA’s Compliance Rules and their actions related thereto exposes the Association as an antagonist. While declaring that it prioritizes providing to student athletes a quality education and ensuring that student athletes experience college in a manner no different than other students, the NCAA derives annually hundreds of millions of dollars by monetizing the same student athletes it purportedly protects from commercial exploitation.
The NCAA is the organization that oversees and regulates all of the intercollegiate athletic programs. The NCAA is funded by revenue generated from, among other things, (i) regular-season and post-season play; (ii) television and marketing rights; (iii) sponsorship deals; and (iv) merchandise sales. According to the NCAA’s official website, each collegiate institution benefits greatly from the success of the NCAA, as it purportedly distributes more than ninety percent of its annual profits to its member conferences and collegiate institutions in the form of direct distributions and services. However, though it maintains a not-for-profit status, the NCAA maintains many of the characteristics of a for-profit organization. In particular, a measure of its success is the Association’s ability to maximize profits and to funnel these profits to the NCAA’s leadership. Indeed, the NCAA has its own marketing and licensing arm, and in 2009, it doled out over $6 million to compensate its core executive team. Surely, these simple facts will cause you to question whether the Association’s goal is to fulfill the student athletes’ needs or to maximize profits for the benefit of its executives.
The NCAA has structured its Compliance Rules to sustain the revenue that it has grown accustomed to realizing. After delving into the NCAA’s 2010-11 Division I Manual (the “NCAA Manual”)—consisting of the Constitution, Operating Bylaws, and Administrative Bylaws governing Division I institutions and student athletes—I liken the NCAA Manual to the final act of stage play that comprises two scenes, wherein the audience fails to realize until the final fifteen minutes of Scene II that the apparent protagonist is actually the antagonist. While the NCAA’s Compliance Rules regulate nearly twenty different intercollegiate sports, this article will focus on the relationship between the NCAA Manual and the “big two” revenue-generating machines: college football and college basketball.
For many student athletes, an athletic scholarship primarily represents a stepping-stone to success. These young adults understand that under the tutelage of a knowledgeable and skilled coaching staff, they stand a good chance of reaching their respective professional leagues. Even so, in Scene I of the NCAA Manual, the Association paints itself as being the guardian of student athletes, where these young adults have chosen to participate in intercollegiate athletics on a “recreational” basis. In such a role, the NCAA purportedly ensures that student athletes, first and foremost, excel in academics and assimilate with the general student body and, secondly, maintain their amateurism.
Constitution, Article I of the NCAA Manual declares:
“[t]he purposes of this Association are to initiate, stimulate and improve intercollegiate athletics programs for student-athletes and to promote and develop educational leadership, physical fitness, athletics excellence and athletics participation as a recreational pursuit… A basic purpose of this Association is to maintain intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of the educational program and the athlete as an integral part of the student body and, by so doing, retain a clear line of demarcation between intercollegiate athletics and professional sports.”
Similarly, Constitution, Article II of the NCAA Manual states:
“[i]ntercollegiate athletics programs shall be conducted in a manner designed to protect and enhance the physical and educational well-being of student athletes… Student-athletes shall be amateurs in an intercollegiate sport, and their participation should be motivated primarily by education and by the physical, mental and social benefits to be derived. Student participation in intercollegiate athletics is an avocation, and student-athletes should be protected from exploitation by professional and commercial enterprises.”
In Scene II of the NCAA Manual, the NCAA continues to paint itself as being the protagonist who invests in student athletes. Constitution, Article II further declares:
“Intercollegiate athletics programs shall be administered in keeping with prudent management and fiscal practices to assure the financial stability necessary for providing student-athletes with adequate opportunities for athletics competition as an integral part of a quality educational experience.”
Shortly thereafter, the NCAA wholly adopts the role of antagonist. Indeed, in Constitution, Article II of the NCAA Manual, the Association transitions from playing the role of a friend to that of a foe by placing restrictions on student athletes where it impacts them the most—their pockets.
Section 2.13 states, “[a] student athlete may receive athletically related financial aid administered by the institution without violating the principle of amateurism, provided the amount does not exceed the cost of education… Any other financial assistance, except that received from one upon whom the student-athlete is naturally or legally dependent, shall be prohibited unless specifically authorized by the Association.”
Bylaw, Articles 12, 15, and 16 of the NCAA Manual further describe the restrictions that the NCAA places on financial aid received by student-athletes. Article 12 emphasizes that a student athlete loses his/her amateur status by receiving improper compensation, aid, awards, benefits or other forms of remuneration. In particular, “[improper compensation] is the receipt of funds, awards or benefits,” constituting “more than actual and necessary expenses for participation on the team.” A student athlete may receive benefits and remain an amateur only where (i) the benefits constitute meals, lodging, apparel, supplies, transportation and similar benefits directly tied to competition; or (ii) “it is demonstrated that the same benefit[s] [are] generally available to the institution’s students…or to a particular segment of the student body (e.g., international students, minority students) determined on a basis unrelated to athletics ability.” Amateur status is lost where the student-athlete receives “any direct or indirect salary, gratuity or comparable compensation,” any abnormal “educational expenses,” or “preferential treatment, benefits or services because of the individual’s athletics reputation or skill or pay-back potential as a professional athlete.”
Similarly, the student-athlete may not receive “[c]ash or the equivalent thereof…, as an award for participation in competition at any time, even if such an award is permitted under the rules governing an amateur, non-collegiate event in which the individual is participating.”
Moreover, should the student-athlete garner a job or establish his/her own business, he/she may not use his/her “name, photograph, appearance or athletics reputation…to promote the business.” With respect to a job, (s)he may be compensated solely “for work actually performed…at a rate commensurate with the going rate in that locality for similar services.” Student athletes may not accept compensation for advertising, recommending, or promoting a commercial product or service.
That’s a lot to digest, I know, but essentially, student athletes are entitled to minimal remuneration from the NCAA and their collegiate institutions, outside of the costs associated with education and their essential needs for participating and competing in intercollegiate athletics. Further, student athletes may not use their status as athletes to garner income.
To be clear, I do understand the NCAA’s justification for prohibiting a student athlete from receiving aid, benefits or gifts from agents, boosters, commercial establishments or other organizations outside of his/her collegiate institution, where such aid, benefits and gifts would objectively interfere with the student athlete’s ability to perform as an amateur. Where the aforementioned individuals and organizations are permitted to infiltrate intercollegiate athletics, you open up the door for these individuals and organizations to dirty the water such that student athletes are conflicted and incapable of fairly performing on the field or court. However, where does either the NCAA or the student athlete benefit by the NCAA prohibiting him/her from receiving compensation “because of the individual’s athletics reputation or skill or pay-back potential as a professional athlete”?
Bylaw, Article 12 of the NCAA Manual states that “[t]he NCAA [or a third party acting on behalf of the NCAA (e.g., host institution, conference, local organizing committee)] may use the name or picture of an enrolled student-athlete to generally promote NCAA championships or other NCAA events, activities or programs.” Member institutions may exploit the student-athlete in the following additional ways: (i) to support its charitable or educational activities; (ii) “to promote generally its fundraising activities at the location of a commercial establishment”; (iii) to “distribute…player/trading cards that bear a student-athlete’s name or picture”; and (iv) to advertise an institution’s wallet-size playing schedule that includes the name or picture of a student athlete.
Well, there’s your answer to my question above. The NCAA and its collegiate institutions benefit immensely by prohibiting student athletes from monetizing their own name and likeness.
In short, the NCAA could conceivably reinvest a portion of its hefty profits in student athletes as reasonable compensation for the time that each athlete devotes to practicing and competing away from the classroom and his/her family and friends. Arguably, this compensation would be no different than the weekly payments that I received from the University of Southern California as compensation for my on-campus job that the university completely understood would supplement my full-tuition Trustee Scholarship. Further, the NCAA could similarly grant student athletes an opportunity to work outside of their collegiate institutions to support themselves and their families. Commercial establishments regularly compensate non-athletes based on their value to an organization. Rather than support these student athletes with resources that are generally available to the student body, the NCAA has structured its rules in such a way that it benefits from what it guards against—commercial exploitation.
 The NCAA has also recently investigated and/or sanctioned the Ohio State University (OSU); former OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor; Auburn University; former Auburn University quarterback Cam Newton; the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill; Florida State University; and the University of Alabama Tuscaloosa.
 The NCAA has or recently had sponsorship agreements with AT&T, Coca-Cola, CapitalOne, Nissan (Infiniti), Hershey’s (Reese’s), LG, Lowe’s, Kraft (Planters), Unilever, and UPS.
 In 2010-11, the NCAA generated $680 million in revenue as a result of its “Television and Marketing Rights Fees,” $67.8 million in revenue through its “Championship Revenue,” and $9.2 million in revenue via “Sales, Fees and Services.”
 As an exception to the general rule, a student athlete may receive aid from a source other than his/her institution or an individual upon whom the student athlete is a dependent, where such aid is primarily received for reasons other than his/her athletic ability.