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What Is Sports Law?
Sports law deals with athletic competition at all levels. Legal issues involving contracts, personal injury, and discrimination are commonplace in sports law.
Can I Sue My Coach or School for an Injury I Received while Participating in a School Athletic Competition?
Probably not. Most courts are shielding schools, coaches and athletic associations from liability for personal injury lawsuits brought on by athletes. The courts have relied on the doctrine of primary assumption of the risk in justifying such holdings.
Primary Assumption of the Risk
Primary assumption of the risk is a legal doctrine that holds that an individual who participates in an activity that contains an inherent risk of injury and is subsequently injured, cannot sue for those injuries because he or she "assumed the risk" of such injury. For example, a high school baseball player cannot sue his school or coach for injuries he sustained from being hit by a pitch while batting.
Where Sports Lawsuits May Be Successful
Although the courts do not look favorably upon personal injury lawsuits by athletes, there are circumstances that may justify a presumption against primary assumption of the risk. The following circumstances may justify an athlete's personal injury claim:
- The athlete was unaware that the alleged activity contained an inherent risk
- The athlete's coach was negligent in providing instruction on technique
- The sports facility was negligent in providing a reasonably safe environment
What Types of Discrimination Are Permissible in Sports?
There is only one type of discrimination that is acceptable in athletic competition: discrimination based on physical ability. The law prohibits all other types of discrimination.
- Colleges and universities that receive federal aid are subject to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 ("Title IX") and must not discriminate on the basis of sex in their athletic programs. The significance of Title IX requirements is that it mandated equal funding to collegiate male and female athletic programs.
- High school sports organizations are regarded as an arm of the state. Consequently, high-school sports teams cannot discriminate upon the basis of race, nationality, or sex.
Contracts in Sports Law
Contract law is a major part of sports law. All professional athletes have contracts specifying how much they will be paid for their services. Regardless of the sport, these contracts are often worth substantial sums of money and are thus, heavily negotiated by sports agents.
Almost all professional athletes have agents who act on their behalf in negotiating such contracts. Typically, the agent-athlete relationship is governed by a Standard Representation Contract, which defines the duties and compensation of the agent. In an attempt to regulate agent activities, many state legislatures now require agents to register with some type of administrative agency.
Do I Need a Sports Law Attorney?
Almost every aspect of athletic competition today involves sports law. Conflicts that arise implicate legal issues ranging from personal injury to contract negotiation. If you feel that you have a dispute involving sports law, it may be wise to consult with an attorney. Speaking with the proper sports attorney will help inform you of your rights as well as preserve any possible legal remedies you may have.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 06-29-2011 02:34 PM PDT
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