Harvard Law School | Committee on Sports & Entertainment Law

2012 Sports Law Symposium

Professional Sports in America: Labor Peace BUT…
Friday, March 23, 2012

PANEL #1 – NBA Collective Bargaining
This year saw the NBA season cut short by failure to reach agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NBAPA and the League. While an agreement was reached, labor peace is by no means assured. With negotiations recently completed in the NFL and upcoming in the MLB, collective bargaining remains an important topic. With representatives from the NBAPA, the NBA, and third parties, this panel will explore the major bargaining difficulties each party faced, how agreement was finally reached, and what might lie ahead for labor relations in the three major leagues.

Michael McCann (moderator), Professor of Law, Vermont Law School; SI.com; NBA TV Legal Analyst
Mike Zarren, Assistant General Manager and General Counsel, Boston Celtics
Yared Alula, Counsel, NBAPA
Jeff Mishkin, Skadden Arps; former EVP and Chief Legal Officer, NBA
Darren Heitner, Wolfe Law Miami; P.A./CEO, Dynasty Dealings, LLC

 

PANEL #2 – NFL Collective Bargaining
Over the course of this past summer, thirty-one NFL team owners and the NFL Players’ Association (NFLPA) agreed to a new 10 year Collective Bargaining Agreement. This panel endeavors to elucidate the issues regarding rookie and retiree benefits that the new agreement has not sufficiently addressed. In the case of the former, the new wage scale forecloses any possibility of a number 1 draft pick reaching a deal that remotely resembles what Sam Bradford (the number 1 draft pick for the 2010-2011 season) had been able to secure: a six-year, $78 million deal. In the case of the latter, the settlement of the Carl Eller suit filed by retired players following the adoption of the new agreement has led many retired players to believe that they have been left out in the cold.

A number of retired players along with draft eligible prospects not covered by the previous CBA, led by former Hall of Famer Carl Eller, had filed a class action antitrust suit against the NFL (Eller v. NFL) on the following grounds:

· The NFLPA intentionally bargained for terms that contravened the rights of retired players against the NFL; and

· The NFLPA failed in their “fiduciary duty” to retired players by bargaining for current players’ rights at their expense.

Given that the District Court consolidated the retirees’ class action lawsuit with Brady v NFL, the players’ class action antitrust lawsuit against the NFL following the decertification of the Players’ Association, and the suits were dismissed once the NFL and the NFLPA reached an accord, this issue remains unsettled at this time. Not only will this panel will discuss the aforementioned open items, this discussion will also look back at the issues that led to the newly adopted CBA.

Glenn Wong (moderator), Professor, UMass Isenberg School of Management
Professor Matt Mitten, Professor of Law, Marquette University Law School; Director, National Sports Law Institute
Patrick Rishe, Contributor, Forbes.com; Associate Professor, Webster University
Jeff Pash, EVP and General Counsel, NFL
Pete Kendall, Permanent Player Representative, NFLPA
Joe Nahra, Attorney, CAA Bussiness & Legal Affairs; Staff Counsel, NFLPA

 

PANEL # 3 – The Concussion Crisis in Professional Sports

The mission of the Sports Legacy Institute is to advance the study, treatment and prevention of the effects of brain trauma in athletes and other at-risk groups. SLI was founded on June 14, 2007 by Chris Nowinski and Dr. Robert Cantu in reaction to new medical research indicating brain trauma in sports had become a public health crisis. SLI has formalized groundbreaking neuropathological research by partnering with Boston University School of Medicine to form the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. SLI Co-Founder and Medical Advisory Board chair Dr. Robert Cantu and other panelists will discuss SLI’s research and address the concussion crisis as it relates to the NHL. Professor Carfagna will also present Professor Emeritus Paul Weiler Scholarships and Professor Emeritus Paul Weiler Writing Prize at this time.

Peter Carfagna (moderator), Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School; Chairman/CEO, Magis LLC
Tim Fleiszer, Representative, Sports Legacy Institute; Partner, Gil Sports Management
Mark Moore, Author, Saving the Game
Dr. Robert Cantu, MD., Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery, Boston University School of Management; Co-Director, Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy; Co-founder and Medical Advisory Board Chairman, Sports Legacy Institute
Dr. Judith Edersheim, Esq. MD., Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Co-Director, Center for Law, Brain and Behavior

 

PANEL #4 – MLB Collective Bargaining
While the NFL and NBA collective bargaining disputes led to litigation and cancelled games, on November 22, 2011 Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced that they had reached a new collective bargaining agreement without any missed games or practice time. The agreement allows play to continue without interruption through the 2016 season, and the end of the agreement will mark 21 years without a strike or lockout. This panel will explore the reasons MLB has been able to maintain labor peace for such an extended period of time and discuss issues that may threaten this peace in the future.

Lisa Masteralexis (moderator), Department Head and Associate Professor, Isenberg School of Management, UMass Amherst
Mark H. McCormack (moderator), Professor, Department of Sport Management, UMass Amherst
Paul Mifsud, Senior Counsel, MLB
Damon Jones, General Counsel, Washington Nationals
Mary Braza, Foley Lardner
Matt Nussbaum, Assistant General Counsel, MLBPA

 

PANEL #5 – Performance Enhancing Drugs
Performance Enhancing Drugs have been getting a lot of attention lately throughout professional sports. They caused arguably the biggest scandal in Major League Baseball history and the issue still rears its ugly head every time Hall of Fame ballots are cast. That problem will only grow in significance as the all-time homerun leader and several other top players of the ’90s and 2000s approach eligibility. Baseball isn’t the only sport that’s been rocked by steroids recently, and in every sport dealing with them a similar set of legal and regulatory issues arises: how should the sport regulate their use ex ante? How should the sport’s authorities punish those who break the rules? What is the appropriate role of the government, if any? What role should the courts take in hearing suits brought by aggrieved players claiming false accusations or faulty tests? Our panel will explore these issues from the perspectives of several different professional sports and several different positions within the sports world.

Warren Zola (moderator), Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs, Carroll School of Management, Boston College
Bob Arum, Founder and CEO, Top Rank Promoting
Adolpho Birch, Sr. Vice President of Law & Labor Policy, NFL
George Hanna, Senior Director of Investigations, MLB
Dan Mullin, Vice President and Director, MLB Department of Investigations
David Cornwell, DNK Cornwell