Tarnished Twenty - The FindLaw Sports Law Blog - features sports law news and info about sports figures in trouble with the law


Scientists are still wrapping their heads around chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease discovered, most notably, in ex-NFL players. Researchers still haven't found tests to definitively identify CTE in living people, but they are pinpointing signs and symptoms displayed by those with CTE before they die, from confusion, disorientation, dizziness, and headaches in early stages to dementia, depression, suicidality, social instability, and impulsive behavior in later stages.

And while science is still trying to sort out how CTE works, criminal attorneys are trying to figure out if the brain disease can work as a defense to criminal behavior. Here's a look.

An academic institution's ability to hold a student-athlete hostage for a year after they transfer to another academic institution protects "the character of intercollegiate athletics," according to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. A football player had challenged the NCAA's transfer rule, which bars transferring athletes from competing for their new schools for a year, claiming it violated federal anti-trust laws.

The court disagreed, ruling that the "year-in-residence requirement is an eligibility rule clearly meant to preserve the amateur character of college athletics and is therefore presumptively procompetitive." Here's what that means.

Ah, the "baseball rule," one of those little legal quirks that tends to favor Major League Baseball teams by prohibiting lawsuits from fans injured by foul balls or even flying bats. The rule is based on the idea that fans have assumed the risk of such incidents by attending games at sitting close to the action, with ticket stubs often bearing legally foreboding language like: "By attending the baseball game ("Game"), the ticket holder ("Holder") assumes all risk and danger incidental to the Game ... including, but not limited to, the danger of being injured by equipment, objects or persons entering spectator areas."

These warnings, coupled with the baseball rule, often kept injured fans out of court if they tried to hold teams or players liable for equipment or objects "entering spectator areas." But that era may be coming to a close, as one woman's lawsuit against the Red Sox is proving.

Derek Boogaard spent six seasons as an enforcer in the National Hockey League, earning nicknames like "Boogeyman" and "The Mountie," and being voted the second most intimidating player in the league. Those fights took their toll. After Boogaard died of an accidental drug and alcohol overdose in 2011, tests of his brain showed advanced chronic traumatic encephalopathy although he was only 28 years old.

Boogaard's parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NHL, claiming that the league was negligent in exposing their son to frequent head trauma and failing to offer him adequate care. The suit was dismissed by a federal judge last summer, and an appeals court affirmed the dismissal, presumably ending the litigation.

In February of this year, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster was arrested on charges of domestic violence, threats, and possession of an assault weapon. And it didn't take long for at least domestic charges to get resolved.

A Santa Clara judge dismissed those charges last week, after ruling there was insufficient evidence to proceed with his domestic violence case. Foster pleaded not guilty to the assault weapons charge, which was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.

The prospect of players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and criminal justice inequality sent President Donald Trump into such apoplectic fits last season that NFL team owners felt compelled to act before the 2018 season kicks off. And act they did.

The owners voted yesterday to remove a requirement for players to be on the field for the national anthem, giving them the option to stay in the locker room. If players do come onto the field for the anthem, however, their teams can get fined if the players fail to stand and "show respect for the flag and the Anthem." Here's a closer look.

After pleading guilty to several sexual assault and child pornography charges, former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. And one of his former employers, Michigan State University is trying to bring its culpability in his decades of abuse to an end.

The school, accused of covering up complaints of Nassar's treatment of students and athletes while he was employed in the athletics department, has reportedly agreed to pay $500 million to 332 women who say they were assaulted by Nassar.

Anti-sports betting laws have often seemed inconsistent. Why can I wager on a game in Las Vegas, but not in Los Angeles? Betting on baseball is cool on one side of Lake Tahoe, but not the other?

A federal gambling statute provided a loophole for Nevada that it denied other states, and some of those states, mainly New Jersey, weren't too happy about that disparate treatment. And the Supreme Court agreed, striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act and paving the way for states to decide whether they want to legalize sports betting.

When a coach tells you what to do during a game, you tend to do it. Especially when you're rounding second on a ball lined into the outfield and your third base coach tells you to slide. But when that slide turns into a rolled ankle and permanent injury, is the coach to blame?

A former JV baseball player is suing his coach for exactly that, claiming the game in which he was injured was "negligently" and "carelessly" supervised. His lawsuit was originally tossed out for failing to plead "recklessness," but has been revived on appeal.

A Florida parent of a high school football team captain complained on Twitter about the school's athletic director "falling down drunk and driving on school property multiple times while supervising students." Curiously though, the parent is now facing a legal battle. 

Pompano Beach High Athletic Director Jason Frey sued parent Larry Little for libel and slander. The lawsuit is apparently the latest shot fired in a feud that allegedly stems from Frey suspending Little from volunteering with the football team.

Here's a closer look at the legal spat.