What is sports law – how does it work?

There are several legal aspects to be considered, when it comes to participating in, watching or betting on sports. These aspects can be anything from an athlete who wants to know if a medication is legal, to knowing how to gamble online legally in the US. Not all of these considerations are dealt with in the domain of sports law. For instance, gambling is a matter that is normally dealt with by a more generalist lawyer.

So what is sports law? It actually involves several different areas including litigation, discipline issues, employment law and commercial considerations such as contracts. Generally, the world of sports law is concentrated around two main branches; regulatory and commercial.

What do these branches relate to?

Sports law that deals with regulatory matters normally involves issues such as the breaching of rules. Cases may include drug taking or breaches of employment law.

In contrast, commercial employment law is concerned with commercial and financial issues that mostly revolve around players or clubs. This could include the signing of contracts, or the purchase of a new stadium.

Facilitating broadcasting rights

The work of sports lawyers does not just involve sports stars and clubs. It can also involve governing bodies and media companies. If a governing body owns the rights to a particular sport, a sports lawyer can be involved in discussions to enable media companies to screen that sport. The lawyer is also involved in the drawing up of contracts, once an agreement has been reached.

What else can sports law involve?

You can see that sports law is an area which is varied. There are many different clients who could call on the services of a sports lawyer at some point including:

  • Sports governing bodies.

  • Anti-doping agencies.

  • Media companies.

  • Production companies.

  • Sponsors.

  • Sports stars.

  • Sports teams.

Wherever there is the potential for a sports related legal matter to occur, the services of a sports lawyer are much sought after.

Opportunities in sports law in the US

The sports market in North America is huge. According to Statista, it was expected to generate revenue of 14.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2017. This presents an excellent opportunity for sports lawyers who are often central to helping secure this revenue, through their involvement in the resolution of legal issues and the compiling of commercial contracts. There are many different North American sports franchises and associations that utilise the services of sports lawyers on a regular basis including:

  • National Football League.

  • Major Soccer League.

  • National College Athletic Association.

  • United States Golf Association.

  • United States Tennis Association.

The teams and players within these franchises and associations benefit from the commercial and legal expertise of sports lawyers. If it was not for these exponents of sports law, the world of sport could not function. And we would not be able to enjoy spectacles such as the Masters tournament and the SuperBowl.