Only Thing Amateur About Track and Field in the 2016 Olympics are the Fans’ Understanding of the Rules

By Nicole Leach, Esq., who is a lawyer and former UCLA track star. In 2006, while a student-athlete at UCLA, Leach earned gold on the World Junior 4×400 relay team in Beijing. In 2007 she was the NCAA 400m hurdle champion and represented the US at the World Championships and earned two bronze medals at the Pan Am Games. She was an Olympic Trials qualifier in 2008 and NCAA champion again in 2009. She most recently competed in the Olympic Trials in 2016 and will soon move into legal practice in Philadelphia.

Shaunae Miller’s diving finish to beat Allyson Felix in the women’s 400m final and the US women’s 4x100m re-run have left the public perception of track and field unsound. People have taken to social media and other outlets to label Miller as a “cheater,” Felix as having “settled” and that the US 4x100m relay received “special treatment.”  An amateur fan of track and field would likely conclude that the rules of the sport are being made up on the fly.

However, Miller, Felix and all individuals involved in the 4x100m re-run have all acted well within their rights under the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Competition Rules 2016-2017 (IAAF Rules).

But why is it that these athletes are taking such a hit from the world?  Why do the outcomes of these recent events feel unfair to most? The most likely answer is that the rules of track and field are foreign to Olympic viewers.

The sport only gets global attention every four years; thus, customary occurrence such as dives and protest seem random and unfair to the seasonal Olympic fan. The world does not know or understand the rules behind the sport. Below is a break down of the rules and traditional philosophies that shed some light on why the recent “random” outcomes are not random at all.

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Lessons To Be Learned From Nakamura’s Fight For Disability Benefits

By Frank Darras, Esq. Mr. Darras is the founding partner of DarrasLaw, America’s top disability insurance litigation firm. His firm has recovered nearly $800 million in wrongfully denied insurance benefits for clients of all backgrounds and professions across the nation.

Former NFL defensive back Haruki Nakamura made recent headlines when he filed a lawsuit against Lloyd’s of London and its underwriters. While many speculate this lawsuit could influence how insurance policies deal with brain injuries, one larger aspect to this lawsuit that has been ignored.

The Nakamura lawsuit provides textbook example of how minor claim missteps can make any policyholder subject to insurance bad faith tactics, whether you are an average Joe or the next NFL star.

Nakamura’s career was cut short when he suffered a debilitating concussion during a preseason game in August 2013. The Carolina Panthers released him five days later, and he reportedly suffered debilitating concussion symptoms for months afterward. Nakamura was awarded permanent total disability benefits under the NFL’s Player Retirement Plan in 2015 after it was determined he suffered from chronic post-concussion syndrome.

Nakamura is seeking $3 million – triple the value of his career-ending disability policy – to account for damages, costs, interest, and fees.

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New Jersey Appeals Court Affirms Strong Standard For Youth Sports Tort Liability

Injuries are a part of sports. Period. End of story.

However, in America, when an injury occurs, most people look for someone else to not only blame, but to also sue. In the past two years, personal injury lawsuits arising out of youth sports injuries have crowded the New Jersey dockets.

After issuing two game-changing rulings on civil tort liability for sports injuries in 2014, the New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division is back at it this month in an interesting case involving youth soccer.

In G.C. v. New Jersey Youth Soccer, 2016 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1566, a 12-year-old soccer player sustained a knee injury when a 13-year-old opponent tripped him toward the end of a game. The Plaintiff, G.C. was dribbling the ball toward the goal to take a shot, when the opponent tried to steal the ball. In what sounds like a slide-tackle gone awry, T.U. injured G.C. and drew a yellow card. However, the referee testified that T.U. was making a play on the ball, but ended up kicking G.C. after the shot.

The injured child’s parents sued everyone under the sun including T.U., two other minors, the coaches, Philadelphia Insurance Companies, New Jersey Youth Soccer, Morris County Youth Soccer Association, and many others. Essentially, every entity except the soccer ball itself was named in this lawsuit. G.C.’s parents alleged general negligence along with reckless and intentional conduct warranting punitive damages.

However, the Defendants successfully moved for Summary Judgment, which G.C. then appealed. Judges Marianne Espinosa and Heidi Currier heard the appeal.

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Trump’s VP Selection Should Scare Poker Enthusiasts

We here at The Legal Blitz try to stay away from politics. However, when covering the intersection of sports, gambling, and the law, it is nearly impossible to do so. One particular issue that I have kept an eye on is internet poker.

My home state of Pennsylvania is reportedly en route to legalizing internet poker within the next few months. Although this is terrible news for my productivity, it is a smart way for the state to generate new revenue while acknowledging its residents’ desires to play poker wherever they please.

On a national level, I was encouraged to see that for the first time since 2000, the Republican Party’s Platform at the RNC did not call for a ban on internet gambling. Per Gambling Compliance this is historically significant because Las Vegas Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson, one of the Republican Party’s most important donors, has pledged to spend “whatever it takes” to outlaw online wagering. The DNC Platform is silent on issues involving internet gaming and poker.

However, Donald Trump’s pick for Vice President, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, should sour any hope of outright national poker legalization.

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Steve Silver Published in Journal of NCAA Compliance: NCAA Begins to Change Culture in Wake of Oliver Case

It took a lawsuit by former Oklahoma State pitcher Andy Oliver, as well as mounting public pressure, for the NCAA to loosen its grip on banning agents in college sports.

Legal Blitz Co-Founder, Steve Silver, is often agitating the NCAA, whether testifying at legislative hearings in support of student-athlete trust funds or educating others about college athletes’ due process rights. However, this time Silver joined forces with frequent Legal Blitz contributor and Coastal Carolina University sports management professor, Amanda Siegrist, to offer an overview of the NCAA change to the “No Agent Rule” as well as practical advice for future implementation.

Silver and Siegrist’s article, “NCAA Begins to Change Culture in Wake of Oliver Case” appeared in the most recent issue of the Journal of NCAA Compliance. It can be found here.

As a bit of background, in 2009, Andy Oliver, a pitcher for Oklahoma State University Men’s Baseball team, brought significant attention to the NCAA bylaw known as the “No Agent Rule” when he filed suit against the NCAA, becoming a catalyst for major change as the NCAA’s Power Five conference abolished the rule in January as applied to high school athletes. Their article explores the relevant bylaws, addresses the importance of the recent change implemented by the Power Five conferences in the wake of growing legal and public pressure, and provides practical advice for compliance by both the student-athlete and institutions.

You can find Silver on Twitter @thelegalblitz and Prof. Siegrist @SiegristA.

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The Challenges of Funding Elite College Athlete Disability Insurance

By Frank Darras, Esq. Mr. Darras is the founding partner of DarrasLaw, America’s top disability insurance litigation firm. His firm has recovered nearly $800 million in wrongfully denied insurance benefits for clients of all backgrounds and professions across the nation.

Injuries are a fact of life for most athletes. However, the right insurance policy can make a huge difference for today's stars.

Thanks to a few high-stake lawsuits and more focused news coverage, we are finally hearing more about elite athlete insurance policies. In turn, more Division I, draft-eligible college athletes are considering the purchase of loss of value and/or permanent total disability insurance.

When language and exclusions are negotiated zealously and the policies are applied for properly, this high-stake disability insurance can provide financial security to athletes who move on to the pros or forgo the draft and return to school. However, most athletes and their respective colleges or universities face one huge obstacle: how in the world do they fund the coverage?

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Drexel University Hosts Steve Silver For “College Athletes, the NCAA, & Due Process” Panel

We here at The Legal Blitz are excited to announce that Co-Founder Steve Silver is slated as a speaker at Drexel University’s Department of Sport Management’s upcoming College Athletes’ Rights & Empowerment Conference: Visioning A New Paradigm of College Sport.

On Saturday, March 26, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. in Drexel’s Gerri C. LeBow Hall, Silver will share his insights on representing amateur athletes against athletic governing bodies on a panel called, “College Athletes, the NCAA and Due Process.” Joining Silver is New York Times reporter Ben Strauss; Matt Haverstick (Plaintiff’s attorney in Corman v. NCAA); and Richard Johnson (Plaintiff’s attorney in Oliver v. NCAA).

The public is welcome to attend. Tickets are available here. You can also live stream the panel here. For more updates about Drexel’s Conference, follow it on Twitter @drexelcare.

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The Legal Hurdles Facing A Potential Las Vegas NFL Team

By Doug Fuglsang. Mr. Fuglsang is a licensed attorney in Illinois and Wisconsin with a Sports Law Certificate from the National Sports Law Institute. He can be reached at doug.fuglsang@gmail.com.

The Raiders are staying in Oakland for the 2016 season after coming to terms on a one-year lease with the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum. The lease additionally contains two one-year options that could potentially keep the team in Oakland until the end of the 2018 NFL season, though in all likelihood the Raiders days in Oakland are numbered. It’s common knowledge that the Coliseum is figuratively, and in some instances literally a dump. Mark Davis is saying all the right things publicly about wanting to keep the Raiders in Oakland but an uncooperative government in a State strapped for cash; a feud with A’s owner Lew Wolff over development rights to a new Coliseum; and the high probability of getting some public assistance elsewhere; lead me to conclude the Raiders will be playing elsewhere in the near future.

Where they will be playing is a mystery after the Raiders were left standing without a chair when the music stopped in Los Angeles, but they still have several intriguing relocation options. Division rival San Diego Chargers have until January 15, 2017 to negotiate a deal to join the Rams in Los Angeles, which will likely have a major impact on where the Raiders end up. If Dean Spanos passes on Los Angeles or reaches an impasse with crotchety Stan Kroenke, there is a possibility the Raiders could end up in L.A. or even possibly join the Chargers in San Diego in a new their stadium. In November the voters of San Diego will get to decide if they want to fork over the public funds to keep the Chargers in San Diego, recent polls demonstrate an uphill battle, but Dean Spanos sounds like he would rather stay in San Diego. If they do stay, a potential venture with the Raiders on a joint stadium could reduce cost significantly. There is also a small possibility the Raiders stay in the “Bay Area” as the second tenant of Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, current home of the San Francisco 49ers. The NFL contributed $200 million to the construction of Levi’s Stadium on the condition that it was capable of supporting two franchises. However, it is highly unlikely this happens, USA Today published a good run down of the finances and obstacles to this scenario; even though it makes the most sense egos will likely prevent it. Finally, I’ve heard San Antonio mentioned, I, for one, don’t think perennial hawk Jerry Jones will EVER let this happen, so I’ll believe it when I see it.

There is, however, a potential wildcard in all this — Las Vegas.

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Recent Pennsylvania Superior Court Ruling On Waiver Forms Exposes Athletic Event Organizers To Increased Wrongful Death Liability

The following post by Steve Silver, Esq. originally appeared on the renowned Wake Forest Law School’s Journal of Business & Intellectual Property Law blog on February 29, 2016.

Between mud runs, charity 5Ks, obstacles course races, and marathons, there is no shortage of events today testing a weekend warrior’s fitness or, often, their pain tolerance.

These amateur athletic competitions are not just fun and games, though. They are also major revenue generators. For example, according to the Sports Business Daily, the obstacle course racing industry saw its revenues spike from about $16 million in 2009 to nearly $400 million by 2015. In addition, more than 18 million Americans competed in marathons in 2014.

However, even the most profitable athletic events such as CrossFit GamesTough Mudder competitions, or marathons represent substantial liability hazards for their organizers and insurers. This is why anyone who has ever participated in an event involving physical activity has likely encountered a general liability waiver form. Typically, a participant receives a piece of paper with a lot of fine print that they blindly sign minutes before the competition begins waiving all future legal claims for any injuries that may arise while crawling through a freezing mud pit with exposed electrical wires.

When injuries, or even fatalities occur, the waiver form is often the strongest defense for the event organizers.

Now, however, thanks to a recent decision by the Pennsylvania Superior Court, insuring an event in the Northeast just became a lot more costly.

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The Daily Fantasy Sports 1099 Tax Season Stampede

The following is posted with the permission of Legal Blitz friend Patrick Guinan, CPA. Mr Guinan is one of the nation’s leading experts on DFS tax implications and proper filing for DFS players. You can find him here.

As some of you may know, FanDuel and DraftKings are delayed in sending out their 1099-MISC Forms to participants in order to file their winnings to the IRS and other taxing authorities. This is delaying the proper filing of tax returns of folks who know this and could cause MAJOR headaches for those who have filed and may not know this. I’m not going to comment or speculate as to why it is happening, but I have a few tips for anyone impacted by the 1099 delays.

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