Sports and the Law: 2011 A Year of Crisis
- Online Access
The year 2011 has certainly been a year of crisis in professional sports, with the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreements in Football, Basketball and Baseball and with lockouts and litigation taking the place of games in the headlines. The presenter, the Chair of the Sports Business faculty at New York University and a former sports agent and sports law expert explains why this year has been so different both practically and legally speaking. In something of a paradoxical situation, based on court interpretation, labor unions in sports are critically important not only to their members but also to the leagues in which the operate, providing a large amount of the antitrust protection the leagues, which are almost always monopolies need to operate effectively. As a result, "the rules of the game" in modern professional sports are shaped by a tug of war between competing principles of labor and antitrust law and the things sports fans love and talk about regarding the business of the game: drafts; free agency; salary caps; player movement all are either permitted by or prohibited by this conflict. If you have wondered why the NFL locked out its players or why the NBA may not hold a season at all this course is for you.
Robert Boland, A.B., J.D.
Bringing experience as an attorney, sports agent and player representative, coach, publicist and manager of sports events at the national and international level in a wide variety of sports, Robert Boland, J.D. joined the full-time faculty at NYU’s Preston Robert Tisch Center in 2003. He became faculty academic chair in 2011.
A 1984 U.S. Olympic Trials Competitor in Greco-Roman Wrestling, Boland earned his undergraduate degree in American History from Columbia University, where he lettered in varsity football and wrestling. He remained at Columbia after graduation, serving in a number of capacities including acting director of women’s sports information.
He joined the athletic department at the University of Tennessee in 1990, as assistant director of athletic media relations working closely with the famed Lady Volunteer programs, while doing graduate work in sports broadcast management. He has also been active directing media relations at many SEC, NCAA and U.S. Olympic Committee championship events. He earned his law degree from Alabama’s Cumberland School of Law in 1995.
After serving as an assistant district attorney, confidential assistant to a trial judge and as special counsel in antitrust litigation, the most common sports law issue, at two large law firms in New York, Boland co-founded Global Athletic Management Enterprises (GAME) in 1998. He has represented professional athletes in contract negotiations with teams in football, baseball, basketball and soccer as well as in endorsement contracts. He was certified by the National Football League Player’s Association as a contract advisor for more than a decade giving up his certification in 2009 to freely comment and write on the NFL’s coming labor crisis. He is now a principal with GAME’s successor corporation, Washington Square Sports Consultants, a full service sports management and consulting firm and as Counsel to Premier Stinson, the nation’s largest firm exclusively representing coaches. He is a member of the bars of New York and Georgia and has received several “Best in Nation” awards from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). He also led strategic management studies for Hockey East, the nation’s leading collegiate hockey league in 2004, and for Radford University athletics in 2005 with Carr Sports Associates.
Professor Boland has published numerous articles on sports law and business topics. He now contributes to Forbes Sports Money and Advertising Age. He was a featured columnist on law, labor and management issues for The National Football Post (www.Nationalfootballpost.com) for two years from 2008-2010. His archive of columns is available on the web at (http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/robert-boland.html). Seven of his columns on sports management issues have appeared in the Sports Business Journal (SBJ) since 2006. These include a June 16, 2008 tribute to the late Jim McKay that was featured as part of an SBJ special issue dedicated to McKay, and also appeared on the Op-Ed page of McKay’s hometown paper, the Baltimore Sun.
Boland is the co-author, with Robert Lattinville, two major law review articles examining business conditions in professional football. The first, “Coaching in the National Football League: A Market Analysis,” was published in January 2007 in the Marquette University Sports Law Journal. Boland and Lattinville followed that study, with co-author Bennett Speyer with a second major article “Labor Pains: the Possible Effects of a Work Stoppage on the NFL and its Coaches,” published in July 2010. Labor Pains has been distributed by the NFL Coaches Association to all 600 of its active member NFL coaches and been praised by Lester Munson ESPN’s Sports Law expert in his column at ESPN.com.
A widely sought after speaker, Boland was the keynote speaker on salary and contract matters at the American Hockey Coaches Association (ACHA) annual convention in April 2004. In October of 2005, he spoke at the International Conference on Sports and Entertainment Businesses (ICSEB), hosted by the University of South Carolina, in Columbia, South Carolina. In June 2006, he spoke on Coaching Contractual issues at the Sports Lawyers Association annual meeting, in Toronto, Canada. In October 2006, he spoke on coaching contractual issues at the annual Craig Kelly Sports Law Forum at the University of South Carolina. In October 2007, Professor Boland delivered a Cordell Hull Distinguished Lecture at his alma mater, the Cumberland School of Law, entitled “Can Sports Be Saved.” In October 2008, he was a panelist at the annual conference of the National Sports Law Institute in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was a featured panelist in April 2009 and 2010 at the College Sports Research Institute’s annual scholarly conference at the University of North Carolina. In 2011 he appeared on a panel at NYU’s law school and moderated another panel for NYU’s Tisch Center on Collective Bargaining Issues in Sports.
He frequently appears in the media as an expert on sports business and legal issues. Boland has appeared on NBC’s Today Show and Nightly News; ABC World News Weekend and Good Morning America; CNN; CNN HLN; Reuters Television; the Yankees Sports and Entertainment Network (YES); Al Jazeera English; Canada AM and Canada’s Business News Network (BNN) television on sports law and business topics. He has also commented on radio on WCBS-AM Radio in New York, the nationally syndicated Paul Finebaum Radio Show and XM Satellite Radio’s Baseball Channel, he is featured on a variety of sports radio shows nationwide including Phoenix, St. Louis and Tampa. He has offered editorial assistance to writers at and been quoted by the Associated Press; Reuters; The New York Times; Newsday; Newsweek; ESPN the Magazine; Advertising Age and Brandweek Magazines; Crain’s New York Business; The Orange County Register and the Fort Wayne News Sentinel and his comments have been syndicated worldwide.
He received acclaim as a commentator first regarding the Michael Vick case as Professor Boland is perhaps the only person practicing law to have prosecuted an animal abuse or cruelty case, as the Staten Island District Attorney’s office’s representative to the five borough animal crimes task force, to have represented players in the National Football League and taught sports law on the university level. But he has commented on matters as diverse as David Beckham’s impact on the MLS, the cost and value of the New York Mets missing the playoffs, the Beijing Olympics and the Darfur crisis, the Madison Square Garden sexual harassment verdict and more recently the Phoenix Coyotes’ bankruptcy trial, Tiger Woods, Roger Clemens and labor relations in every sport. Selected comments by Professor Boland on the web are available at youtube. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-tdNEl5jx8) and (www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5UssTj2wvE)
Professor Boland’s research interests and areas of expertise include sports law, contractual and antitrust issues, naturally, but also extend to collegiate conference realignment and collegiate athletic leadership; franchise structure, valuation and economics and the impact of broadcast media on sports, as well as the topical areas of stadium finance and economic impact.
He currently teaches Introduction to Sports Management; Sports Contracts and Negotiations; Sports Law; Antitrust and Collective Bargaining in Sports and Sports Finance on the undergraduate level and Legal Issues in Sports Business and Economics and Finance of Sports Industry and Professional Franchises on the graduate level. He has also taught Structures and Process of Sports Organizations, Revenue Management in Sports Business and Planning and Development of Major Sporting Events at NYU. He was awarded NYU’s divisional Distinguished Teaching Award in 2006. In 2007, he led the effort to successfully recruit Michael Cramer, former president and minority owner of the Dallas Stars and Texas Rangers to NYU’s full-time faculty, making NYU the only sports business program in the nation to have a former chief operating officer and equity owner of, not one but, two major professional sports franchises on its full-time faculty. In the summers of 2010 and 2011, he taught a unique professional education course on the Business of Professional Football, with employees from major leagues and marketing firms as students.
Professor Boland is married to Semone Wagner, a proud University of South Carolina Gamecock graduate. They reside in Manhattan, on the NYU campus where he serves as one of twenty NYU faculty who are Faculty Fellows in Residence living within an NYU Residence Hall (Coral Towers).