Looking Back At Sports' Legal Happenings On This Day, February 16
If your brain needs a breather from FIFA, daily fantasy sports, & Peyton Manning, this is for you. Here are a few quick flashbacks at what took place on this day in "sports law" history.
11 years ago...
On February 16, 2005, the NHL announced that it would officially cancel the 2004-2005 because of its labor dispute. This was the 154th day of the season's lockout (measured from the preseason September 16, 2004 start date) after nearly two years of failed collective bargaining negotiations. Furthermore, this marked the first time in history that a professional league in North America lost a whole season for a labor impasse as well as the first season since 1919 that the Stanley Cup was not going to be awarded to any team.
For me, the NHL Lockout was tragic. I grew up in Hockeytown during the Detroit Red Wings' greatest era in modern history, and hockey was always number one in my book (followed very closely by football at number two). As a sophomore at Troy Athens High School, I didn't understand the collective bargaining tension between the NHL and the NHLPA nor did I understand how a hard salary cap would affect player distribution and "cost certainty." I couldn't tell if the players I idolized were greedy or if the owners and league executives were ludicrous. The resulting game changed (click here to see some "before & after" comparisons, e.g., salary saw a slight increase, fighting decreased, and ticket prices skyrocketed). Starting with the 2005-2006 season, hockey became my number two, but at least a decade later I finally understood how and why the NHL's lost season came into existence.
12 years ago...
On February 16, 2004, former MLB commissioner Bud Selig approved a trade that arguably had one of the strongest effects on the league and its fanbase: Alfonso Soriano of the New York Yankees (plus a minor league player) for Alex Rodriguez of the Texas Rangers. Trades require careful examination and approval because there is a strong interest in having competitive balance. Though the MLB is exempt from federal antitrust laws in a super old law that seems a little silly today, it is still smart to monitor to minimize labor law issues.
17 years ago...
On February 16, 1999, O.J. Simpson sold his 1968 Heisman Trophy to Tom Kriessman for $255,500 in a court-ordered auction so Simpson could pay his $33.5 million civil judgment for the deaths of his ex-wife and her friend.
The Heisman Trophy is one of the most prestigious awards an athlete can earn, for the Heisman Trust awards it each year to "the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work." The NCAA's time-sensitive rule prohibiting college football players from selling their memorabilia (e.g., championship rings like some Ohio State players did) so long as they are in school. Since it is an individual award, there are no rules restricting what the winner can do with the trophy because that person owns his copy, and Simpson is not the first to sell his trophy - voluntarily or not.