A look back at our inaugural year: UB Law Sports Forum’s top articles of 2018

When we founded this blog in 2018, Professor Nellie Drew and I had no idea what would come from it.  All we knew was that in the ever-evolving world of “sports law,” the traditional law review article was too arcane a medium to rely on in order to comment on important issues in the sports world.  This fast-paced blog gave us the space to react, sometimes within hours, to the news stories perfect for sports law commentators.

This blog enabled our faculty, our alumni, and, most importantly, our student writers to write about issues that really hit home, like the US Women’s Hockey Team winning gold after years of fighting USA Hockey for better treatment, whether Serena Williams deserved to be penalized as she was in this year’s US Open Final, and, of course, the administrative and legal implications of our UB Bulls Men’s Basketball team taking down pay-for-play implicated Arizona in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

2018 treated us well, so we decided what better way to wrap up the year than with a post highlighting some of our most popular and influential articles.  Check them out below and be sure to stay tuned for what promises to be an eventful 2019.  We look forward to what is to come, and hope you will continue to look to us as your authority in the world of sports law!

Joe Notartomas: A Deep Dive Into Fournette v. Lawson

“These decisions by the NFL set the precedent for Shaq Lawson to potentially prevail on his appeal. Shaq Lawson was not the aggressor in the shoving match with Carlos Hyde, nor was he the aggressor in the altercation with Leonard Fournette. If the Appeals Officer chooses to stick by the precedent set by similar altercations, then Lawson has a case. In the instances of Ramsey and Lattimore, they were each not without fault. This holds true in relation to Lawson’s actions, as well. However, the aggressors in their respective fights, Green and Evans, made the decision to fight for them, which is precisely what Fournette did in the incident on Sunday afternoon in Buffalo.”

Nellie Drew: “USA! USA! USA!”

“Well before the #MeToo movement began, the USA women’s ice hockey team challenged an entrenched culture which not only allowed disparate treatment, but also fostered disrespect for women athletes and their achievements.  As USA Hockey prepared for the Sochi games, the Olympic ice hockey jersey was unveiled with great fanfare – to the men’s team only, while the women found out by watching the event on television.  The jersey also listed all of the years the men’s team won gold medals — but did not include the women’s gold in 1998.  Therefore, an important part of the settlement reached by the women’s team was a commitment from USA Hockey to devote more time, effort and money to the marketing and development of women’s ice hockey as a sport – an obligation mandated by the Ted Stevens Act.”

Joe Schafer: Sister Jean is saving the NCAA from itself

“Right now, Sister Jean is someone the NCAA needs, albeit not someone it deserves. . . . So, as the FBI continues to bring the NCAA’s broken system of gross shortcomings and inherent hypocrisies into the public eye, maybe it’s only right that Sister Jean be the organization’s saving grace. The question still remains, however, has the organization been in the wrong for too long to reconcile and atone for its sins against amateurism?”

Kaitlin Kramer: In tennis, “every coach coaches” but in today’s US Open Championship, Serena Williams was penalized for it 

“Today’s events raise even more questions about the equity of refereeing in women’s professional tennis. Clearly, the integrity of the outcomes must be weighed against the discretion exercised by chair umpires. Simply put, today proved that the US Open final is not the right time to enforce a rule that is otherwise ignored during the rest of tournament . . . and the other 11 months of the touring season.”

Joe Schafer: Davis Disappears but Bills aren’t Defenseless

“A player walking out on his team in the middle of the game is not the look the NFL wants. Further, the league has limited options to remedy its media image because it can no longer fine Davis due to the fact he is no longer an active player. Accordingly, the simplest solution would be to leverage the language of his player contract to effectively issue a quasi fine in the form of a withheld game check. Even if it is not in the form of a financial punishment and Davis goes without reprimand, there is no doubt this issue will be on the table when the players and owners sit down to form the next NFL CBA.”

Lindsay Munschauer: Bills, Sabres Shake-Up is a Big Move for Women in Sports

“In recent months there has been a groundswell of support for women in sports.  The success of the U.S. Women’s Ice Hockey team in PyeongChang proved that women can, and should, be taken seriously in the world of sports.  The elite athletes on that team were honored in ceremonies at NHL rinks across the country.

On the heels of the NFL Draft and NHL Draft Lottery, the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres are looking to usher in a new era in their respective team histories.  With today’s move, the Pegulas may be helping to usher in a new era for women in sports. Personally, I am ready to cheer for all three.”

Nellie Drew: The LeSean McCoy Dilemma: The NFL Can’t Win This One

“As a practical matter, the NFL will always be the focus of scrutiny whenever allegations of inappropriate conduct by employees – especially star players – arise, creating pressure to respond quickly in order to appease fans and sponsors.  Doing so requires the NFL to dent or ignore traditional notions of due process, which in turn results in highly charged criticisms that its disciplinary processes are inconsistent, arbitrary and capricious and/or biased.  A more deliberate approach would help alleviate this problem, but would subject the NFL to a potentially even stronger outcry for insensitivity to recurring problems like domestic violence.  See, i.e., Ray Rice.

It remains to be seen what the facts actually are – and whether the NFL is able to determine them.  There is no doubt, however, that regardless of the outcome, the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy has once again put the League between the proverbial rock and a hard place.”

Joe Schafer: Hey, NCAA, This is Your Fault

“[T]he worst wrong of all is that Mark Emmert is pointing the finger at everyone else for the dysfunction of his organization. The NCAA has refused to even acknowledge the realities of big-time college sports for decades and now it is all coming to a head. The kids are going to get paid one way or another: there is too much money out there and it is the logical consequence of the system the NCAA itself built. Reform makes indictments and FBI investigations go away. Coaches, shoe reps and agents are not criminals, and they should not be treated as such.

But reform also means recognizing the flaws in the system and admitting the NCAA was wrong–two things Emmert has consistently shown he will not do. Instead, with the underbelly of college basketball exposed, Emmert, as always, is looking to pass the buck and place responsibility elsewhere. In the end, he should look in the mirror.”

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