Sports law

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1. How would you define sport? Is there any room for the law to be involved in sport? Explain your answer. Give examples of your answer

Sport can be defined as any form of physical activity that is undertaken with the main objective of maintaining and improving physical fitness and sometimes offering entertainment. In most cases, sports are competitive, whereby the winners are identified using objective means. It is also important to take into consideration the fact that all forms of sport are governed using a particular set of rules. Physical athleticism is a central criterion that is used for judging whether an activity is considered as a sport or not. In addition, the judgment for the outcome of a sporting activity is based on well-defined criteria, which is in contrary with the judged activities like body building and beauty contests.

Despite the variation in the practices of the various sports activities, there is room for law to be involved in sport, with universal requirements such as displaying good sportsmanship and adhering to the codes of sport conduct, like maintaining respect for the opponents and the officials and consenting to either win or loss in a sporting competition. Just like any other activity such as trade, sport requires the use of legal regulation, especially with the increasing globalization of sport that poses the need to control and govern sport at any level. Sports law is a vital aspect in the establishment of the legal principles to address the problems that are increasingly being witnessed in sports such as performance enhancing drugs.

The first application of law in sport is with regard to the misuse of drugs, especially the drugs that are used for the enhancement of performance. Sport is supposed to be fair and players should not violate this principle through enhancing their performance. Owing to the fact that sport is some sort of competition, it is necessary to deploy law in ensuring that there is fair play among the participants. In the light of this view, room for applying law in sport can include the ethical principles of sport, international sports law and global sports law. The ethical principles of sport are not the formal technical rules, although they are used in ensuring that there is integrity and fairness during sports. The ethical principles of sport are an issue of concern, especially when the decisions by sporting associations have been challenged in a court of law. They are mostly unique depending on the kind of sport and considered as an internal lex specialis implying that they are not functional on global spectrum, when adopted by sporting federations at local and international levels. International sports law refer to the general principles of law that are involuntarily applied in any given sport They include aspects such as basic protections, which include due process of the law and the right to have a fair hearing. Global sports laws, on the other hand, denote the principles that are as a result of the rules and regulations developed by the international sporting federations.

Another legal aspect of sport is with regard to violence. Injury is a common phenomenon in most sporting activities. For instance, opponents can impose a deliberate injury and in cases whereby death is inflicted, there is need to make use of the legal proceedings in order to ensure that the opponents do not the ethical principles of sport. The fundamental argument is that maliciously inflicted injury in sport requires criminal sanctions and participants should be convicted when engaging themselves in an on-field assault.

The enforcement of the players’ rights is also an important issue in sport that requires the use of law in sport. Just like any other economic activity, sport is a career and requires the use of labor relations in order to safeguard the interests of both the players and the clubs. Players’ rights are usually enforced when one enters into a sports deal with the club. Cases of violation of the players’ rights demand the use of legal proceedings in order to settle the disputes that may arise between the player and the club.

2. Discuss anti-siphoning provisions and the (sporting) events covered by legislation. Should such a list of sports be protected or in fact should the highest bidder from all forms of television be able to be without any protections (the answer for this part should state that sports should be protected by such a list). Discuss how the United Kingdom and United States deal with such issues if at all

The anti-siphoning laws in Australian Sports law serves to regulate the access to significant sporting events by the media companies. During 1992, Australia witnessed an expanding growth in relation to paid-subscription media that compelled the Parliament of Australia to enforce the Broadcasting Services Act with the main objective of giving free-to-air broadcasters preferential access of acquiring the broadcasting rights to the sporting affairs. The anti-siphoning list comprises of major sporting affairs that the Australian parliament has decided to be made available devoid of charges to all Australians, implying that they cannot be siphoned off to subscription TV that compels people to pay in order to view them.  

The minister for Communications has the discretion of adding or removing sporting events to the list. Currently, there are 10 listed sporting events including the Olympics and Commonwealth games that are found on the anti-siphoning list. The listed events are usually delisted twelve weeks prior to their onset in order to make sure that the pay TV broadcasters have realistic access to the events that have been listed in cases whereby the free-to-air broadcasters have opted not to buy or acquire the rights to broadcast for that specific sporting event. Any rights associated with the sporting events that have been listed and have not been bought by the free-to-air broadcasters, are made accessible to the subscription broadcasters. For cases associated with sporting events that are multi-round, the free-to-air broadcasts do not have the rights to air all the matches of the sporting affair such as the Australian Open. This implies that complimentary coverage is only made available for subscription TV. Under the Australian sport law, the government has the obligation of reviewing the list and that the listed sporting events are available on the broadcaster’s primary channel. Therefore, sports in Australia should be protected by the anti-siphoning list. This is because anti siphoning rules play an integral role in ensuring that the public interest is served and that the national identity is maintained. From this view, it is the interest of the public for all the citizens to see all the critical sporting events that serve to reflect the national identity of Australia. The interest of the public is violated when sporting events are moved to the subscription TV. Therefore, the government should impose the anti siphoning laws so that that broadcasting should be in line with serving the interests of the public.

In the United States, the anti-siphoning laws were introduced during 1975 and immediately overturned as being unconstitutional. The subscription TV industry legally challenged the anti-siphoning legislations on grounds that anti siphoning were not in line with the provisions of the First Amendment. In the US, the FCC holds the view that subscription costs of pay TV is less likely to be heavy for the typical consumer. In the United Kingdom, the anti siphoning list is enforced together with the Television without Frontiers Directive (TWFD) of the European Union. The Broadcasting Act enacted during 1996 gives the Secretary of State the discretion to list sporting events that are considered to be of national interest in the UK.

3. A young 15 year old baseball pitcher playing for New South Wales (in Australia) in a national baseball carnival is discovered by the LA Dodgers and they want to sign him up for a three year deal. What are the rights of a minor signing up on such a contract? How can such a contract become enforceable?

Sport contracts are carried out in a manner similar to the normal business contracts in the sense that professional athletes are usually paid for the services that they provide as outlined in the contract. As an important aspect of a sport contract that fulfils the obligations of the contract, this implies that the club should not withhold from the obligations, when engaging in a contract with a minor. As a result, the minor has a right of terminating the contract in cases whereby the club does not meet the contractual obligations. In addition, the termination of the minor athlete will be perceived as a breach of the contract in cases whereby the termination does not have adequate justification. This implies that the club should act within the limits of rights, when terminating a contract. Rightful termination of the minor athlete basically involves lack of skills, defying the club and rules of the league.

In the identified case, the rights of the young player can be enforced using the Minors (Property and Contracts) Act of 1970. As a general rule, an individual under 18 years is not bound by a contract with the exception provided under section 17 of the Act. In addition, courts of law can also affirm the contractual capacity on a minor. In such an event, the minor requires a contractual agreement and can enforce a contract against the club and that the contract cannot be enforced against the child by the club. The principal exception of this legislation is that minors are liable on contracts for necessaries. The Minors (Property and Contacts) Act serves to reverse the general provision that minors are not liable to enter into a contractual agreement. It states that in cases whereby minors engage in a civil act including entering a contract for his/her individual benefit, the act is presumably binding provided that one has the necessary understanding to engage in the act.

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