9 Nov 2010

Regulating sport: finding a role for the law?

In one of the first articles posted on this blog, we had pitched for a full-fledged sports law in India. Despite the fact that its is almost three years now from what we originally wrote, it is abysmal to note that the grim position continues and the sports in India continue to be run in an ad-hoc fashion. Recently we came across this paper posted on SSRN entitled Regulating sport: finding a role for the law? wherein Steve Greenfield and Guy Osborn of the University of Westminster pen their thoughts over the requirement for a legal umbrella in sports.

Examining in particular selected sports (being boxing, football and cricket) and the interaction of laws therein, the authors inter alia conclude that "key themes that have emerged illustrate that whilst commercial disputes are now perhaps the most visible indication of regulatory intent, increasingly disputes over such commercial rights are occurring beyond national level, either with clubs who have grown to international proportions, or global events such as the Olympics or the World Cups." The authors further point out that concerns such as protection of sponsors, participants and spectators, etc. gradually rise, they "will see the law intervene in new and sophisticatedways in ‘futuresport’, not necessarily in the traditional, invasive form, but by inculcating a legal culture within which sports exist and operate, both explicitly and implicitly, and the development of sports in the future will be need to be understood from this contextual position."

The abstract reads as under;
How sport might be regulated in the future is a complex and complicated issue. This essay seeks to analyse, from a theoretical standpoint, the role of law in regulating sport in terms of both consumption and production of sport. It charts historical developments in boxing, football and cricket to examine this and hypothesizes as to potential future developments. In particular we analyse football in terms of consumptive issues and cricket in terms of participatory ones. We argue that both exhibit common characteristics in the relationship with law yet with a completely different structure, history, context and economy. Both are exhibiting characteristics of a global business eschewing national boundaries yet restricted by historical factors. It concludes that perhaps the law will have little role in the future landscape of sport in terms of consumption, but is likely to have significant impact in the commercial sphere.

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