Krista Solano Associate Editor Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2023 Eighteen former NBA players were charged with defrauding the league’s health and welfare benefit plan. The former players were charged under 8 USC Section 1347, otherwise known as the federal healthcare fraud statute. The fraud scheme submitted $3.9 million in fake claims, for …
Following President Biden’s announcement mandating vaccinations for companies with over one hundred employees, major professional sports leagues may be required to ensure compliance with the mandate. This mandate has the potential to have sweeping implications throughout professional sports, from the athletes, to staff and even spectators. The NFL, NBA, and MLB all have high vaccination rates among their players and the staff that works closely with them, since many teams have already mandated that players and those working in “close proximity” to them be vaccinated. However, their back-office staff are less protected, as those employees have yet to be subjected to strict protocols of the rest of the leagues. Despite these high vaccination rates among athletes and certain staff members, the leagues have been reluctant to institute absolute mandates. But that doesn’t mean that athletes don’t still have a responsibility not only to get vaccinated but also encourage others to do so as well.
On June 29, 2021, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill into law that allows collegiate student-athletes to hire agents and sign endorsement deals effective as of July 1, 2021. This bill puts Illinois among a number of states which have begun to pass legislation allowing student-athletes to receive payment for the use of their name, image, and likeness (“NIL”). While these laws open opportunities for student-athletes, they also present several potential challenges to the NCAA, the governing body for collegiate athletics in the United States, and its member institutions barring any Congressional assistance.
Athletic scholarships pave the way for student-athletes to attend the schools of their dreams, yet serious injuries can turn their dreams into nightmares, regardless of whether the injuries have immediate or future effects. In the relentless pursuit of illustrious professional league contracts and national championships, athletes may fail to get properly evaluated or be less inclined to accept being sidelined for what they perceive as minor, short-term injuries. The unwary athlete may find themselves losing their scholarship and suffering life-long consequences as a result. While the NCAA was established in 1906 for the purpose of protecting athletes from a trend of injuries and death in college football, the governing body has seemingly veered off course of prioritizing student-athlete welfare.
The Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments in the matter of National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Alston, et al. on March 31st, 2021. After decades of controversy regarding what restrictions the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) should be allowed to place on their member universities to compensate their collegiate athletes, many antitrust experts hope that the Supreme Court’s decision will give a final decision on if the NCAA’s current regulations are a violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act and if they are, are they still justified by the NCAA’s goals.
In this unprecedented season of March Madness, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is required to implement rigorous health and safety procedures to conform to CDC guidelines and fend of COVID-19 complications in this year’s basketball tournament. This year’s tournament will be held exclusively in Indianapolis, Indiana, with the Final Four playing in the Lucas Oil Stadium to accommodate a larger audience. However, capacity will still be reduced to just 25%. All venues for the tournament will be less than 25% capacity. This 25% capacity includes,” all participants, essential staff and family members of each participating team’s student-athletes and coaches and a reduced number of fans.” The NCAA noted that those who were able to attend the tournament games live would be required to wear face coverings and to socially distance from one another. As of March 18, the NCAA only identified eight positive COVID-19 cases out of more than 9,100 tests. This is equal to a positivity rate of less than 0.1%.
A major upset took place on first day of the very much anticipated 2021 National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) Division 1 Basketball Tournaments, and I am not referring to any of the games that took place on that day. In the evening of March 18th, University of Oregon Forward Sedona Prince took to social media to expose the evident discrepancies between the weight room facilities for the men’s and women’s tournament facilities. To prevent a coronavirus outbreak, each of the tournaments are taking place in a bubble funded by the NCAA. The video Prince posted showed the women’s tournament weight room which consisted of a single set of dumbbells, then showed the men’s tournament weight room that was supplied with various training equipment. Not only were there massive disparities between the weight rooms for the men’s and women’s tournaments, but there is also a clear and substantial difference in the “swag bags” given to each student athlete participating in the tournament from the NCAA. As well as the quality of food provided to the female student athletes who are competing in the tournament.
To ensure safety and the best experience for athletes to excel in sports, eligibility to play on certain teams and at varying levels of competition has long depended on individuals’ biological factors, the primary factor being sex. This established practice of separating sport participation by two categories, male and female based upon the sex assigned at birth is being reexamined, particularly as it relates to individuals who were born male, now identify as female, and desire to compete in women’s sport. The federal government, state governments, and sport governing bodies are addressing the matters presented by athletes who transition genders, with opposition by both sides of the issues seemingly being the only commonality.
Advanced data driven infrastructure is now essential for sports entities to remain competitive, yet few structures are in place to manage the risks inherent in the collection of this sometimes, highly personal information. Data is utilized for virtually every aspect involved in the game, including; to enhance player performance, improve player health, deepen fan engagement, and increase betting predictions. These developments do not come about without risks to the rights of those who the data is extracted from.
Sports betting is now just as easy as opening up an app and playing a game on your phone. But should it?
Of course not. Sports gambling, with the potential to waste away thousands of dollars, should feel more like gambling at a casino than making a few clicks on a phone.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) effectively outlawed sports betting nationwide. However, in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Supreme Court struct down PASPA, launching the phrenzy towards nationwide legalization. Sports betting is fully legal and operational in 18 states in addition to Washington D.C. with the possibility of 13 more states joining the national trend by the end of 2021.
In June 2019, Governor Pritzker signed the Sports Wagering Act into law, ushering in legal sports gambling in Illinois. The law initially required users to submit applications for sports wagering services in person. However, due to the pandemic Governor Pritzker issued several Executive Orders suspending this requirement through at least November 14. With the pandemic still in full swing, there is little reason why this suspension will not be extended again.