The Uphill Legal Battle for Defamation Claims in Professional Sports

Guest Post by Rex Sheild

Professional athletes and coaches are consistently in the limelight, whether they wish to be or not. Sure, some professional athletes and coaches prefer to be at the center of attention, for branding purposes if nothing else. Others, however, would rather maintain a more private life. Regardless of the particular professional athlete or coach preference, they will still be succumbed to defamatory remarks from all types of individuals across a wide range of mediums. As such, in my latest for Sports Law Blonde, I will dissect defamation law in the realm of sports and provide previous and recent case law.

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The Case Michigan State's Tom Izzo Could Have for Defamation

Over a week has passed since ESPN let loose its detailed report stemming from Larry Nassar's sexual assault incidences. The entire situation regarding the adequacy and possible active sexual assault cover ups at Michigan State University is unfortunate because there is so much that happened in the past that cannot be sufficiently remedied beyond justice being served. Some people are beginning to speak out against sexual assault cases they personally experienced, and some people are choosing to dig deeper into the dirt, almost as if trying to take ESPN's Outside the Lines report to the next level (and that report already took things to an uncomfortable but necessary level). In doing so, this creates a problem that implicates certain Michigan State figures - at this point, are we able to separate subjective opinion and irresponsible journalism from objective facts to learn what has really been going down in East Lansing?

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Professional Athletes Leading the Way on Marijuana Reform in United States

Guest Post by Derek Helling

Individual citizens and groups all over the United States are taking part in petition campaigns, legislative hearings and other forms of lobbying to decriminalize the possession and commerce of Cannabis and its by-products. Current and former professional athletes are included in these groups.

The most notable example of this legal advocacy is former NFL player Marvin Washington, who is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Attorney General of the United States, Jeff Sessions. The suit seeks relief for the plaintiffs against federal laws penalizing Cannabis possession and transportation that the suit argues violate the United States Constitution.

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Overwatch League Starts Strong In Its Stance On Player Conduct Expectations

The Overwatch League (OWL) began a few weeks ago and saw, in my opinion, a pretty successful inaugural weekend! Viewership has dropped a bit since, but that is to be expected to an extent. As its second week of competition began, though, the OWL experienced what could be called its first bit of "sports law" controversy - Félix "xQc" Lengyel, the tank for the Dallas Fuel, made some anti-gay slurs about one of his Houston Outlaws opponents on Thursday night on his personal Twitch account livestream after the Outlaws shut out the Fuel, 4-0. Austin "Muma" Wilmot, the tank for the Outlaws, is openly gay, & despite xQc stating afterward that he had no malicious intent in his remarks, OWL chose to stay strong in its disciplinary stance.

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Administrative Failures in Handling Sexual Assault is a Widespread Issue

In light of the horrible Larry Nassar & USA Gymnastics sexual assault matters & lawsuit, I wanted to share a piece I wrote back in 2013 (i.e., as a law student).

Keep in mind that I was a 2L at the time and did not have quite the understanding of the law as I do now 5 years later (oh my goodness, 2013 is already 5 years ago), but nonetheless, this Comment on USA Swimming is very informative and discusses the same issues as we are today within a different National Governing Body (NGB). Moreover, this Comment shows how another NGB dealt with sexual assault allegations initially and how its later dealings still proved to be insufficient. Hopefully, USA Gymnastics can learn from USA Swimming's past legislative and moral failures. Even more importantly, it evidences how Nassar and USA Gymnastics is only the latest example of administrative failures in handling sexual assault matters. It is a widespread issue across sports, and that widespread issue stretches well beyond sports at that.

In large part, USA Swimming's failures in handling sexual assault were not more widespread until 2017 thanks to an Indianapolis Star investigation. Not to toot my own horn here, but to a legal eye, this was easy to spot as a hot topic problem years before that.

Without further ado...

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A Joint Olympic Team May Sound Weird, But the Joint Korean Team is Not the First

On Wednesday, North and South Korea agreed to the unthinkable - they are forming their first joint Olympic team and will march together in February's Opening Ceremony for the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games! This is pending approval from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), naturally, but this is a massive step toward cooperation between the Koreas after nuclear weaponry programs created quite a bit of tension. (Even war was a potential outcome at one point!) This marks the first time in 11 years the two nations will parade together for the ceremony and takes it indeed further. Since South Korea is this Games' host country, this set up an opportune moment for reconciliation. There are a few unique points that should be highlighted from their provided joint statement...

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2018 Sports Law Hot Topics To Watch

Per usual, I would like to make my predictions regarding what topics I believe will be extra sizzlin' in 2018, but I will do so in a slightly different way. Here are brief descriptions of what each topic is, some insight as to why I have it on my predictions list, and who you can pay attention to for the latest news, updates, and analysis throughout the upcoming year:

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Reflecting on My "2017 Sports Law Hot Topics To Watch" Predictions

If Deflategate's courtroom battles placed "sports law" into mainstream conversation in 2015-2016, then 2017 gave sports law an entire fleet of those Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tubemen [Note: If you do not understand the reference, I encourage you to click the link.] As we step - no, run - into a new year embracing all the change that is more likely than not going to occur, I would like to put the past twelve months into perspective and reflect on what I predicted would be the sports law hot topics to watch in 2017, what happened and what did not, and see whether the topics attained some means of closure. All in all, I can proudly say that my umbrella picture that 2017 would be a continuation of prevalent sports law trends was pretty accurate.

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