Friday, February 10, 2012

Key Legal Lessons from the NBA and NFL Lockouts

I'm honored to be a panelist at this year's MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference (see previous post).  I'll be on the Building the Modern Athlete: Performance Analytics panel.

I have a column for the conference titled Legal Lessons from the NBA and NFL Lockouts.  Here are a couple of excerpts:
* * *

Part of the explanation for the “better” behavior of teams than their leagues and players’ associations may rest in operational objectives. While leagues and players’ associations are motivated primarily by business and legal considerations, teams are motivated most by competitive considerations. To be sure, leagues “compete” with other leagues, and more generally with other entertainment providers, for fans’ interest and dollars. And players’ associations compete with other players’ associations for most effectively representing their membership. But teams compete with each other every day and are better candidates to utilize analytics and other optimizing approaches. .....

* * *

One caveat: if the NHL locks out its players later this year and if the NHLPA decertifies — which means that each player becomes independent and can file litigation in a court nearby where he plays — expect the players to file antitrust litigation in a federal court in California or Arizona. Both states have NHL teams, meaning the league has sufficient nexus to each state to defend itself in court. More importantly, both states are governed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which is regarded as more pro-labor than other federal circuits and which may embrace a view of the Norris-LaGuardia Act favorable to players. It is also possible NHL players could file litigation in Canada, which features stronger labor laws.

The NHL, for its part, would probably seek to move any litigation to New York, where league headquarters are based and where case law from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is favorable to its interests. The league might instead seek to defend itself in Minnesota or Illinois, both of which are states governed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which ruled in favor of the NFL. ...

* * *
To read the rest, click here.