What is sports law?
Even though professional sports agents might be the first thing that come to mind, sports law is a broad term for many different types of law that impact the way people play sports both professionally and recreational. For example, a professional athlete relies on contract law for a playing agreement. Trademark law might protect the team that they play for. If an athlete gets hurt inside or outside the field of play, personal injury law might come into play. In addition to professional athletes, sports law reaches the youngest children that play sports. Rules for coach training and safety equipment might impact young athletes.
Contract law in sports law
Perhaps the most well known area of sports law is contract law. Contracts between professional athletes and the teams that employ them are of critical importance. A contract must carefully spell out terms of performance. Sports lawyers often serve as agents as well as legal negotiators. Sports law involves more than just athletes; coaches, trainers, managers and athletic trainers need sports contracts, too.
Personal injury law in sports law
Personal injuries happen in sports. A personal injury can occur during the game, and it can occur outside of the field of play. Personal injury law may be relevant to sports law. While an athlete may bring a legal claim after a personal injury, the millions of fans that attend sporting events may have personal injury claims too. Any venue that hosts sporting events must take care to avoid negligent behaviors that may lead to personal injury liability. A sports venue may have a high duty to keep their property safe for patrons who buy tickets under the legal theory of premises liability. If a fan gets injured at a game, it may become a legal issue if the sports venue is negligent in their maintenance of the property.
Trademark law in sports law
Professional sports teams depend on their trademarks. Trademark infringement is a challenging area of sports law for the attorneys who work to enforce trademarks on behalf of college and professional sports teams. Merchandising is often as critical to the income of a college or professional team as ticket sales. Sports lawyers perform a critical function enforcing the trademark rights of the teams they represent.
Criminal law in sports law
Sports law isn’t immune from criminal law. Athletes are not immune from criminal prosecution for on-field behavior. Most behavior in sports falls under presumed consent. In other words, some physical contact is part of the game. However, when contact goes above and beyond what’s expected and reasonable in a sporting event, an athlete may face criminal prosecution for their actions. Whether an athlete is a professional, collegiate athlete or amateur, any athlete may face criminal charges for an assault and battery offense that goes beyond the scope of play.
Labor and employment law in sports law
Professional sports teams and sports venues are employers. From the professional athletes to coaches to the security guards and concessions team members that work at games, a professional or college sports team is an employer. Labor and employment laws apply to sports teams. Practicing sports law might mean helping the client understand and implement labor and employment laws including hiring practices, termination procedures, workers compensation, health insurance mandates, taxes and medical leave.