Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

June 2018 Archives

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.