Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

January 2017 Archives

Football is one of those sports where the fans delight in the big plays and the big hits. But, over the last few years, after the controversy over player concussions and the link to long-term illness was exposed, big hits are now seen as big risks.

This month, another federal lawsuit was filed against the NCAA by former college football players alleging long-term injuries related to concussions suffered while playing college ball. The five players are all alleging that the NCAA, as well as the Big 12 conference, failed to warn and protect players from the long-term risks of concussions.

Ideally, a round of golf is a good long walk, spoiled by intermittent swings of a club at a small, stationary ball, producing more or less attractive and effective arcs of flight. The more sinister golf courses impede this walk and the ball's trajectory towards a hole with various hazards of trees, water, hills, and sand, tormenting players of various skill to corresponding various degrees.

What no golfer expects, while making the leisurely rounds of nine or eighteen holes, however, is to find himself chest deep in quicksand.

While the headline is racy, the allegations of this lawsuit are nothing short of horrifying. A high school junior varsity cheerleader from Albuquerque, New Mexico, alleged that she was criminally harassed by her teammates and that the coaches and school did nothing to help her. What's worse, the school actively sought to escape liability by holding the teenager's school transfer request hostage behind a settlement agreement.

The lawsuit is claiming multiple violations of the student's civil rights under Title IX, the First Amendment and 42 USC 1983, in addition to the school conspiring to deprive the student of her civil rights under 42 USC 1985.

On the heels of New Jersey potentially taking its back-and-forth betting battle to the Supreme Court, three other states are pushing their chips into the middle of the legal table. Michigan, New York, and South Carolina have all introduced legislation aimed at ending Nevada's monopoly on sports betting in casinos. But, like New Jersey, they'll have to overcome federal law in order to make it happen.

Here's a look at the latest legalization efforts, and their odds of success.

Three former high school football players have sued their school's head coach, saying they were kicked off the varsity team after standing up to the head coach's bullying. The three star players and former co-captains of the team also allege the school's principal told them that while bullying is prohibited in the classroom, it is permissible on the football field.

"The public policy point we're trying to make is that this conduct is as prohibited on the athletic field as it is in the classroom," the boys' attorney told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "This coach was over the top and played a significant role in harming these students and their future."

Recently, Mark Hunt, the mixed martial arts fighter that made it to FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty after threatening to personally sue his UFC opponents that cheat, has filed a lawsuit against Brock Lesnar and the whole UFC. Hunt is alleging that UFC and Lesnar conspired together, and not just that the league was simply negligent in not expediting Lesnar's drug tests.

Hunt, who lost his match against Lesnar last year, attempted to work out some sort of settlement with the UFC when it was discovered that Lesnar had used performance enhancing drugs and had failed two pre-fight drug tests. However, the UFC has been unwilling to compromise. In essence the UFC stated that since they have been lenient regarding their rules on PEDs in the past, Hunt had no expectation that UFC wouldn't be lenient in Lesnar's case.

Larry Nassar, former team doctor for USA Gymnastics and at Michigan State University, is currently in police custody, charged with sexual assault of a minor in his home and possession of child pornography. And these cases are unrelated to the claims of 18 female athletes that Nassar used the cover of medical examinations to sexually assault them in incidents spanning two decades, most of them when the victims were minors.

Nassar is also named in four other civil lawsuits, and Michigan authorities are investigating over 50 complaints involving the doctor.

For the past four or five years now, New Jersey has been trying to legalize gambling in the Garden State. A 2012 law authorizing sports betting was struck down by courts, as was a 2014 statute repealing state prohibitions on gambling at racetracks and casinos. But it's this distinction -- between official state approval and tacit repeal of a prior ban -- that Jersey is betting on when it comes to the Supreme Court.

The biggest gamble, however, remains: the odds that the highest court in the land even hears the case.

Mixed Martial Arts competitions have been increasing in popularity for some time now. It is billed and sold as the ultimate fighting competition as there are no padded boxing gloves, and fewer rules than in any other fighting competition. However, like most other sports, performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and other substances are banned from use by competitors.

Mark Hunt, a prominent, well liked, and successful MMA fighter was recently at the center of a controversy because his opponent had been caught using PEDs. Despite pre-fight urine tests coming back positive, the league still allowed the fight to go forward, and unfortunately for Hunt, he lost.

While the league invalidated the results, and his opponent was fined $250,000, Hunt believes that this does not begin to make up for what he was forced to endure. After discovering this information, Hunt insisted that the league change his fight contract to include provisions that state his opponents will not use PEDs, and if they do, there will be consequences. However, UFC has denied Hunt's requests. In response, Hunt has publicly stated that if an opponent of his is caught using PEDs, he will personally file a lawsuit against them.

With the growing popularity of YouTube and other video sharing websites, daredevils and stuntmen have easy access to a public forum to share their feats. Today's daredevils film themselves jumping off buildings into pools, and doing all sorts of other death-defying things with high-definition video cameras strapped to their bodies. However, the stunts of today lack the same level of showmanship that classic daredevils like Evel Knievel or even Super Dave Osborne used to provide.

Recently, one YouTube daredevil, 8booth, who is known for jumping off tall buildings, cliffs, and structures into water, missed a jump into a pool and broke both his feet. While there has been an outpouring of sympathy for the daredevil, there has also been an overwhelming amount of vitriol against him.