Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

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According to a Kentucky sixth-grader's lawsuit, a rule that limits the movement of boys (but not girls) basketball players between class-delineated teams violates equal protection laws and Title IX. Under the so-called "play up, stay up" rule, male students who play for a higher grade team can never play for a lower grade team, but female players can play up or down without any restrictions.

"Specifically," the lawsuit claims, "this rule unfairly subjects male basketball players to a harsh restriction on the number of grade levels at which they may play, but expressly exempts female basketball players from the restriction," thus resulting in "gender-based discrimination against middle school male student-athletes."

Like the NFL, the NBA has pretty strict rules when it comes to player uniforms. Shorts can't be too baggy, shirts must stay tucked in, no tights allowed (compression sleeves are OK), and if you're going to wear a headband, it must be a league-issued headband and not inside out or upside down. And NBA players, due to the nature of those uniforms, have some of the most prominently displayed tattoos in sports.

So it's no surprise that, at some point, all those written regulations and all that ink would come into conflict. And it's probably no shock that JR Smith is at the center of that conflict. According to Smith, the league has warned him to cover up a brand new tattoo sporting the Supreme streetwear logo, lest he be fined. Can they really do that?

The University of Louisville fired head basketball coach Rick Pitino in October last year, amid allegations that an Adidas executive conspired to funnel money to the families of two top recruits in exchange for their commitment to the school and agreement to represent the brand after they turned pro. That sparked quite a bit of litigation between Pitino and Adidas, which had just inked a 10-year, $160 million contract with the school and paid Pitino $2 million last year.

Pitino sued Adidas, claiming the company "knowingly or recklessly caused him emotional distress when its employees conspired to bribe University of Louisville basketball recruits," and Adidas moved to dismiss the case, arguing that Pitino's claims were subject to mandatory arbitration under his endorsement deal. This week, a federal judge agreed, and dismissed his suit.

LeBron James Sued Over Alleged Stolen Idea

Even if you don't root for the Cleveland Cavaliers, every basketball fan knows about the force that is Lebron James. But you might not know that he's also a very successful businessman and is shooting for billionaire status, with a current net worth of around $400 million. However, some of that wealth may be in jeopardy as James and his multimedia platform Uninterrupted are being sued for allegedly stealing a Michigan man's idea for a barbershop show.

Purdue student Alyssa Chambers is suing basketball player Isaac Haas for $1 million in damages, claiming Haas knowingly infected her with chlamydia during a sexual encounter last year. She is also suing the school for allegedly providing Haas with undocumented medical treatment for STDs, as well as Haas's ex-girlfriend, claiming she either intentionally inflicted emotional harm on Chambers via text messages about the case, or is trying to aid in a cover-up.

Chambers' lawsuit also indicates Haas might've knowingly infected multiple women.

Michael Jordan's 'Jumpman' Pose Isn't Subject to Copyright Protection

Copyrights provide protection to various original works and give the copyright owner the exclusive right to sell, publish, or reproduce the work. Photographer Jacobus Rentmeester felt that this exclusive right had been violated by Nike.

Rentmeester claimed in a lawsuit against Nike that it had infringed on his copyright by copying his photo of Michael Jordan to create Nike's "Jumpman" logo. Unfortunately for Rentmeester, the Ninth Circuit disagreed, holding that while Rentmeester could claim a copyright to his creative choices for his photo, he couldn't claim a copyright to the jump pose.

How Will the New Tax Law Affect Sports Teams?

Your favorite hometown sports team may be planning more than just its next game plan or roster move. Tax reform is here, and everyone from the local sports bar to the hot dog vendor might be doing the math to figure out how it affects their bottom line. 

The new tax law changes will impact everything from college athletics to corporate ticket purchases and sports financing. So what's the inside story?

We all want sports to be fun, especially at the youth recreational level. "That's the thing," Ohio parent Tony Rue told WLWT, "those names are not having fun. It's not so much even if we had black students or African-American students, or any minority students. Our kids were offended."

Rue was referring to the names printed on the back of one youth basketball team's jerseys, names that included "Knee Grow" and "Coon." The team's name? "Wet Dream Team." The team was banned from the Cincinnati Premier Youth Basketball League after playing three games in the jerseys.

Charles Oakley, New York Knickerbockers legend, was kicked out of a Knicks game last February, after which James Dolan, current Knicks owner and executive chairman of Madison Square Garden, speculated that Oakley may have a problem with alcohol and anger management issues.

Those assertions, and the forcible removal of Oakley from MSG that night, were a step too far for the power forward, who sued Dolan and MSG for defamation, libel, slander, assault, battery, and false imprisonment.

If you can remember back that far, in early 2016 a tattoo studio sued a video game company for depicting NBA players' tattoos for which they had allegedly not paid licensing fees. In the realm of fringe copyright lawsuits, this was one of the strangest -- after all, it wasn't the athletes themselves arguing that the game engineers were using the ink on their skin without compensation, but a tattoo studio arguing rights to artists' designs and work.

As it turns out, that battle is still raging in a New York federal court, where the video game company is arguing that its use of the tattoos amounts to fair use under copyright laws.