Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

December 2018 Archives

Is Ballpark Food Safe to Eat?

When you think about ESPN highlights, you know you don't want to be on the "defense" side of the highlight reel. A list of four stadiums ended up on that reel in an ESPN Outside The Lines report, showcasing the most unsafe food in sports stadiums. Among the highlights, a live mouse in a bag of Cracker Jacks, beef blood drippings on a shelf, employees wiping their faces with their hands and then handling food for customers, and five live roaches squirming on a roach strip.

After seeing this, you might be wondering, is ballpark food safe?

Former sports physician Larry Nassar has been sentenced to hundreds of years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting patients and minors in his care. Many of those victims were members of Michigan State's and the United States national gymnastics teams. USA Gymnastics has even been accused of paying settlements to Nassar's victims to keep them quiet while he continued to molest team members and other patients.

This week, USA Gymnastics filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, in part, it claims, as an effort to "expedite resolution of claims" filed against the entity by survivors of Nassar's sexual abuse. Does this mean the sport's governing body doesn't have the money to compensate its victimized athletes?

For many years, it was understood that college athletes retained little, if any, right to their likenesses while they fell under the pseudo-legal "student athlete" distinction. The NCAA was free to use player and school names and images to advertise single games, tournaments, and even video games. That was until Ed O'Bannon sued, and federal courts ruled the NCAA couldn't deny athletes of the monetary value of their names, images, and likenesses when used for commercial purposes.

While that ruling may have meant the end of beloved college sports video games (absent money flowing to the athletes themselves), it didn't mean that student athletes retained their rights of publicity in all arenas. Take, for example, daily fantasy gambling sites. The Seventh Circuit last week dismissed a lawsuit filed by college athletes against FanDuel and DraftKings, based on a prior Indiana Supreme Court ruling that the sites could use players' names and images without their consent.