17th Annual Sports Law Symposium

The keynote Speaker for the 17th Annual Sports Law Symposium was Ken Hershman, President of HBO Sports. The three panels and the topics were as follows:

2013 Sports Law Symposium


Panel 1 – IP Face-Off: Athletes, Sponsors, and the Right of Publicity

Moderator: Anthony Dreyer: Partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP

  • As a result of increased exposure on television and the Internet, athletes have become some of the most marketable people in the world.  Unfortunately, the marriage of athletics and marketing has not been without incident.  Before the start of the 2012 London Olympics, there was a public outcry regarding IOC Rule 40, which prevents athletes from appearing in advertisements for, or even mentioning, non-Olympic sponsors during the Games.  Professional athletes have repeatedly challenged the licensing of their names and likeness by their leagues, while others have called for a narrower merchandising right for athletes to protect fans’ interests.  The purchase of media rights by sports marketing agencies has become controversial, as UEFA drew criticism this year for selling its multimedia, sponsorship, and licensing rights to CAA. The practice of ambush marketing has also raised concerns, as companies use popular sporting events to advertise their products without being official sponsors.  This panel will discuss publicity rights, branding, marketing and advertising, and other intellectual property issues involved in the business of sports.

Panel 2 – House Rules: Congressional Regulation in the World of Sports

Moderator: Marc Edelman: Barry University School of Law

  • Congress has addressed a number of issues in sports, including performance enhancing drug use, the BCS vs. Playoff debate in college football, Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption, and the relationships between agents and college athletes.  However, there are no established criteria for how and to what capacity Congress should intervene in amateur and professional athletics.   While leagues engage in limited internal governance, the shortcomings of that governance have become evident through issues like the New Orleans Saints bounty controversy.  Is congressional regulation necessary for efficient governance in sports, or is it only the result of deficient internal governance by professional and amateur athletic organizations?   Who should have the final say when referees are caught fixing games, or coaches are caught spying on opponents?  This panel will discuss Congress’s role in sports and the tension that exists between external regulation and internal governance, and will explore the risks and benefits of an increasingly regulated athletic marketplace.

Panel 3 – Rules Beyond the Game: Morality Clauses and Ethical Issues in Sports Contracting

Moderator: J. Gordon Hylton: Marquette University Law School

  • When athletes enter into contracts with teams and sponsors, the primary concerns are performance and monetary compensation.  Within the four corners of a sports contract, however, ethical issues abound, and have a substantial legal impact.  Questions of ethics arise when players like Brett Favre and Brandon Roy retire while under contract with one team, only to return and sign a contract with another.  Morality clauses have also become controversial: when sponsors sign athletes to endorsement deals, what conduct can they prohibit?  Few would protest a sponsor’s decision to drop an athlete for outright cheating, but could a sponsor terminate an athlete’s contract for criticizing the company?  For being accused of a crime, even if the charges are dropped?  In college athletics, similar concerns are at play despite the lack of actual contracts:  is it just for a university to kick an athlete off of a team for a non-criminal violation of an honor code rule, like a prohibition on caffeine?  The scope and power of morality clauses has yet to be clearly determined, and millions of dollars hang in the balance.  This panel will discuss morality clauses and additional issues involved in the interaction of ethics and law in the realm of sports.

Panelists Included:

  • Jennifer Keene: Senior Director of Personality & Property Marketing, Octagon
  • Mark Conrad: Director of the Sports Business Specialization, Associate Professor, Fordham University Gabelli School of Business
  • Arthur McAfee III: Georgetown University and the NFLPA
  • Jared Bartie: Counsel, Arent Fox
  • John Vukelj: Partner, DLA Piper
  • Raphael Prober: Partner, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and Fordham Law
  • Scott Rosner: The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
  • Christopher Chase: Counsel, Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz
  • Christopher Coniff: Partner, Ropes & Gray
  • Cari Stern: Chapman and Cutler LLP, and John Marshall Law School

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