Blogging Sports Law
Bill Long 11/22/06
Introducing the Sports Law Professor--Prof. Jeffrey Standen
Of the millions of blogs that are now "out there," one of the newest and most insightful is Jeff Standen's "Sports Law Professor." To this relatively new site Jeff brings a wonderful combination of incisive analysis, humor, a creative/iconoclastic mind, an accessible writing style and a passionate commitment to understanding the economic, social and legal dimensions of sport in our society. This essay introduces you to Jeff and encourages you to stop by his site.
Meeting Jeff Standen
I first met Jeff as "Professor Standen" when I was in his Criminal Procedure class in the late 1990s at Willamette University College of Law. Jeff is about six years younger than I (it took me longer to make it to law school than most people). I was immediately impressed by the breadth of his legal experience and education. A graduate of the University of Virginia law school and then a civil litigator, Jeff had come to Willamette in the early 1990s and taught a wide range of courses, including Remedies, Criminal Procedure, Constitutional Law, White Collar Crime, Evidence and Jurisprudence. But he wore his knowledge "lightly," never hitting students over the head with his it, even as it was evident in each lecture he gave or each case he considered. You didn't have to be in his class long, however, to realize that he had a rapier-quick wit, an ironic view of law and history and a skeptical approach to nearly every quick fix or premature announcement of the dawning of the Kingdom of God. In short, Jeff was an ideal professor, and he had a wide and appreciative student following (though if he knew this, he would probably dissuade them from following him).
A few years ago we talked about blogging and the possibility of creating a site. As with most good ideas, it took some time to germinate, but now it has matured into the Sports Law Professor. I was a bit surprised, truth be told, when Jeff came up with this as his topic. Surely, I thought at first, someone as widely versed in so many areas of law might try to do a "law school in one person" approach to law--educating the general public and a wide array of students about the legal curriculum in general. But he has settled on sports law, a topic of exploding interest at Willamette and in the society at large, and will now bring his forceful mind to this understudied area.
A Few Examples
Let me close this by giving you two insights into Jeff's mind, both entirely serious, even though his ideas are often cloaked with witticisms and self-deprecating humor. Jeff believes that betting on sports might not be such a bad idea. In one of his blog posts, (and in an academic paper he has delivered, entitled "The Beauty of Bets"), he argues as follows:
"Professional and amateur leagues prohibit athletic participants from wagering on the outcome of the games in which they play. Most also prohibit wagers on any aspect of the sport; some even prohibit wagers on any sporting contest. At the same time, these leagues typically allow teams to compensate players based on individual performance outcomes and team victories and championships. Certain non-league tournament sports, particularly professional golf, even allow players to bet on pre-tournament practice contests.
This paper outlines the advantages of allowing athletes to bet on their games. Betting aligns player incentives with team incentives, encourages team-oriented play, helps sustain fan interest, lessens the nominal costs of owning teams or ticket purchases, and reduces the likelihood that players will conspire to throw games or beat the point spread. In light of this advantages of betting, the widespread prohibition on participant gambling seems problematic."
Whoa. Move over, Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
Then, he takes on a topic that is ignored by the media but which runs through the mind of every parent who has an athletically-talented child (or every parent who thinks his child is athletically gifted)--Redshirting Helpless Babies, as he calls it. The post is hilariously funny, but you cannot miss the impassioned and insightful argument about the need for school districts to enforce age-appropriate sports contests so that younger people not only don't get clobbered on the field but that they avoid serious injury.
Jeff has such an ability to slice through verbiage and tell you what is at stake in athletics that I only wish in the future that he might devote a column or two to longer explanations of things. That is, tell us how baseball contracts work; tell us how drug testing of athletes really works; explain to us the nature of revenue sharing in professional sports; tell us how ad revenues work; take us into the inner recesses of "Big Sports" in college campuses, etc. I think Jeff's site has all the makings of the premier sports blog on the net. I hope he will also take us deeper on the subjects which none of us really know much about but would love to understand.
Copyright © 2004-2007 William R. Long