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David Stern’s Last Christmas Gift As NBA Commissioner Comes In The Form Of Sleeved Jerseys

By:  Kris Colley, Ruling Sports Contributor (Twitter:  @KCMasterpiece52)

Christmas time is the season of giving, and the NBA has given us something to talk about for years and years to come. Many believe Christmas day is the day in which the sport begins to emerge from the shadow of the NFL and college football into the national spotlight.

Commissioner David Stern has made Christmas Day a super spectacle for his league. The biggest names across the league will clash on Christmas making for an excellent day of entertainment and basketball.

Since Christmas Day is so special, the teams often unveil unique and innovative alternate jerseys. This Christmas day it will be no different.  The Bulls, Nets, Thunder, Knicks, Rockets, Spurs, Clippers, Warriors, Lakers, and Heat will all be wearing new sleeved jerseys.

This fashion trend started in the NBA last season when the Golden State Warriors wore their pin stripped sleeved alternates. Although it is something new and increasingly more common for teams to wear the sleeved shirt, they are unsightly, odd, and veer from the traditional look. The traditional “no sleeves” look has been a hallmark of the league since its inception. 

These alternates make the players look like they are in a track meet rather than an NBA game. The elastic polyester fabric is tight fitting and the look of the league will definitely be modified, for at least one day.

 Website Ballislife voted the Golden State Warriors alternates the 6th ugliest uniform in league history.  So far this season the Warriors are 2-1 in the uniforms, but performance is not the issue; the sleeved shirt is just a startling eyesore. 

This will be David Stern’s last Christmas as NBA commissioner.  His 30 years as commissioner were possibly the best ever by a commissioner in any sport.  He took the sport to great new heights and opened the game to international markets like no other league.  But, he will have the final laugh, leaving the NBA World with this terrifically tacky “shirt-jersey”.

Commissioner Stern will leave putting on his jolly ole St. Nicholas suit and checking his list twice. With the unveiling of these new uniforms it is obvious that the NBA was naughty, and not nice.

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Analyzing The End Of The Dwight Howard Saga

By:  Kris Colley, Ruling Sports Intern (Twitter:  @KCMasterpiece52)

And the saga ends. No more: Where will Dwight Howard go? Will Dwight leave the Lakers? Does Mark Cuban have enough money to entice Howard? Will he go to the Warriors? Will the Rockets be a championship contender with Dwight next season? The saga has finally concluded.

Superstar center Howard has chosen to leave the overwhelmingly bright lights of Los Angeles and decided to join the dynamic James Harden in Houston. The Rockets immediately become a contending team out West with this acquisition. Landing the biggest free agent and adding him to an already young and explosive team, things look exciting.

Howard, while with the Lakers, averaged 17.1 points and 12.4 rebounds per game. Meaning his numbers didn’t show a decline, so why would he leave the place that is known for their legacy of great big men. Howard was upset for a majority of the season, and the chemistry was never there. Los Angeles Lakers Head Coach Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo system was not an ideal fit for the big man. Although the Lakers made the playoffs as an 8th seed, the season was considered an epic failure. The “nightmare” season for Howard is over and he did what many believe is blasphemous, and that is leaving the Lakers.

Next season will be the start of a new rebuilding stage in Los Angeles. Kobe Bryant will be coming off of an Achilles’ heel injury and there is no timetable on his return. The Lakers will more than likely be a bottom dweller this season, but a frontrunner in the race to acquire stud college prospect Andrew Wiggins.  Houston will drastically get better, and hopefully Howard will finally be happy and satisfied with a team.

Now that the drama has ceased, the NBA universe can get back to business. Many teams have improved and many have abandoned ship and have started sailing to greener pastures. The irony of Friday’s events is that the Orlando Magic are in the best shape after 2012’s summer blockbuster trade that sent Howard to Los Angeles, former Lakers center Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia, and the 76ers’ superstar Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets; because Iguodala also signed elsewhere leaving the Nuggets to join the Golden State Warriors.  Although the Magic had the worst record out of the 4, they are the only team that has players from the trade on their current roster.

The saga has finally concluded. No one player’s indecisiveness has been the center of the sports world quite like Howard’s since Brett Favre. Now that this will no longer be an issue everyone can refocus on the sport and not the sideline antics of one of its biggest stars. 

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Two Years

Two years ago, I hopped in my friend Jak’s car as we headed to our friend Katie’s wedding in Orange County.  “I got bored yesterday and started a sports blog,” I said.  Other than my roommate, Alex, who sat up with me as I painstakingly processed name ideas for what would become RulingSports.com, Jak was the first person I told.  A true sports fan, he said, “That’s really cool!”

“I have no idea what I’m doing, but I already have a radio show booked for tomorrow,” I replied.  “What?!” he said.

When I woke up on July 1, 2011, I had no idea that my life would change.  I had no idea that the little website that I would stay up all night creating and haphazardly designing would put my life on a path much different than the one I was going down.  I had no idea of the people I would meet or the places I would go or the happiness that I would find.  I had no idea that just less than two years after Jak and I took that ride, he would drive me to the AmericanAirlines Arena and drop me off to cover my first NBA Finals as a credentialed journalist.

The last two years of my life seem to have gone by faster than the 27 that preceded them.  They’ve been two of my favorites, though.

It always seems that the most exciting things of any venture come in its infancy.  I would have thought that things couldn’t have gotten any better than they did during my first year of launching RulingSports.com, when everything was new and fresh and happening so fast.  But they did.  And this second year has been a gem.

It’d be safe to say that my favorite moment of the last year was the week I spent in New Orleans for the Super Bowl.  The people I met, the places I visited and the food I ate are memories that will last a lifetime.  Every morning when I woke up and walked to the media center or rode the bus to the SuperDome, I pinched myself.  I had been a “journalist” for just over a year, and there I was with that prized credential around my neck, interviewing Barry Sanders, Jim Brown, Emmitt Smith and marching across the turf at the SuperDome.  I said a little prayer each day thanking God for the wonderful opportunity He gave me and wondering just what I did to deserve it.

The NBA has been pretty darn good to me over the last year, too.  Covering the NBA All-Star Game in Houston was a blast and it was nothing short of a privilege to be the only member of the media invited to the private ceremony when Team USA received their Olympic rings.  Attending the NBA Finals in Miami this year was also a bucket list item.  Standing in the hallway and getting hugs from NBA executives and having them personally guide me around the arena and make introductions made me feel at home, both inside and in the professional sacrifice I have made.

If there’s one thing that differed more this year than last, it was my travel schedule.  Beginning in January, I traveled seven out of nine weekends all across the country.  It was exhillirating, but exhausting.  I met so many great new people, saw so many interesting places and things, and was greeted which much hospitality.  But, at the end of the day, I was traveling alone.  And there were times where I would go back to my hotel room and the harsh reality of loneliness would hit me.  There might have been a pretty ugly sob fest in Virginia when I was exhausted, homesick, and still dressed in the clothes I put on two days earlier since Southwest conveniently lost my bags.  During this time, my friends in Colorado were back at home making memories together and I was building a life of my own on the road.  I was grateful for these moments, but traveling on a journey like this alone can get tiring, hard and lonesome.

If it’s not apparent, one of my favorite things about the last year, is the people I’ve met.  There was Train, my favorite band, who sat down in a private room in New Orleans with this sports writer, answered every question with kindness and then invited me to be their personal guest at a concert in Aspen this fall. There was Rod Smith, the great former Broncos player, who gave me love advice (get a good enough job so you never need a man to support you) and business savvy.  There was then Houston Texans and now Philadelphia Eagles player Connor Barwin who, through a chance meeting at the Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, went on to introduce me to some of Houston’s top chefs during my NBA All-Star visit.  There was Angelina Lawton, who when my flight out of Minneapolis got canceled because of snow, met me at my hotel bar late one night and said, “Ok, tell me everything about yourself.  I want to know,” and listened intently as I told my whole life story.  There was Claire Zovko, who on a trip to Colorado, made it a point to sit down to dinner with me and chatted about the careers we are building in this industry.  There was Jason Snelling, who I’ve loved talking business with and is the only Falcons player I’ll cheer for should they ever beat my Broncos again.  There was Kelli Masters, who I think God put into my life because He knew I needed a strong female role model who is led by faith and who I will always have memories of chowing down on pizza and rocking out at a blaring Lil’ Wayne concert with.  There was Matt Steichen, who I believe I was in the right place at the right time, when I was alone at the bar at a Super Bowl party and he strolled up and gave me the chance to learn about everything he is doing to help the lives of others.  There was Elika Sadeghi, who I don’t understand how our paths didn’t cross when we lived so close to each other in Orange County, but I am grateful to have in my life now as a sounding board and confidant.  There was Erin Charlton, who before running up a mountain, went out of her way to have lunch with me and has been one of my biggest cheerleaders.  There was Melissa LaCorte, who has served as an example to me of the great things women can do in this industry and has been gracious enough to open her network to me.  There was Joanna Hunter with the NFL and my friends Kim Mandara, Amanda Thorn and Rick Pendrick at the NBA, who have gone so far out of their way for me so many times and have done more than I could ever ask to make me feel welcome as I travel along this new journey and go to these new places.

And then there are the people who we there with me last year, who continue to travel with me and support me.  The Kristi Dosh’s, Mark Sullivan’s, Rachel Baribeau’s, Ryan Peck’s, Preston Wages’, David Cohen’s, CJ Stewart’s, Carmen Hawkins’ and Charlie Grantham’s.  When I woke up that morning and decided to start a sports website, I don’t think I ever thought I would create real and lasting friendships through it.  If that’s not a blessing, I don’t know what is.

And then there are those of you who I have never met in person, but who are so important to me nonetheless.  Social media is a powerful thing.  The people you can meet and the stories you can learn are so widespread and phenomenal.  My real friends think it’s crazy that I have friends whom I only know through social media.  But, this is the 21st century, and this is how things work.  Many of you have sent me notes of support.  Many of you have responded to my requests for help.  And I’m so grateful for every single one of you and the role you have played in making my life better and helping my dreams come true.

One of my favorite things about this year, is that I now have a folder in my Gmail inbox entitled, “Good Emails.”  It’s filled with things that people, most of whom are strangers, have sent me.  In that folder, are sentences like this:

“I, too, rely heavily on my faith, and dreaming bold dreams has been a big part of my life and how my parents have raised me. Listening to you speak, however, inspired me even more–not necessarily in a sports law career aspect, but more so in a life inspirational aspect.”

And this from SI’s George Dohrmann, who I emailed two days after starting RulingSports.com: “Seems like you have really gotten things rolling since we last talked.  Nice work.”

And this from someone who stumbled upon my blog:  “Your words ring true, and your writing has given me additional inspiration at a time when I often feel like I am not in control of my own life.  The world needs authenticity.  Thank you for yours.”

My favorite email in that folder, though, is from Kathy, the mother of a recent Colorado School of Mines graduate, Jessica.  The subject line was “A different sort of request,” and in her well thought out and kind email, Kathy explained how what I’m working toward mirrored dreams she had for her own life and asked if I’d be willing to sit down with her daughter to talk about making plans for life.  I loved that she used the word “serendipity” in the email, because I think it was serendipity that caused our lives to enter one another’s.  That email confirmed the power of words and the power of a life well lived.  It instilled in me the complete belief that I can do good things in this world and make a difference.  And, most importantly, it helped me make a new friend.  I wore the beautiful silver bracelet that my new friend, Jessica, gave me for my birthday last night, inside of which is inscribed, “…and she lived happily ever after.”

Happiness is a good word to describe where I’m at right now.  Sure, there have been some tough moments over the last year.  Like people on Twitter telling me to “die in a fire” or others creating fake Twitter accounts impersonating me.  There have been tough moments with friends, too, as I’m away from home more often and my life gets more hectic.  Two of my best friends admitted that they unfollowed me on their Facebook newsfeed, as to them, “all I do is brag.”  That was probably the most hurtful part of this entire year, as I would never intentionally throw the opportunities in my life up at someone to brag, let alone my best friends.  The fact of the matter is, that what I am doing here is no better or more important than what anyone else is doing.  Rather, I have worked hard for these opportunities, am so grateful for them, realize they could be gone tomorrow and want to share them with my friends.  This is my life.  And the way it is now, involves a lot more travel, a lot more different people and a lot more sporting events.

I’ve found support in the strangest of people.  Complete strangers ask to chat with me on the phone and are so congratulatory.  Friends that I just thought were “on the fence” friends have been some of my greatest cheerleaders.  Friends’ parents go out of their way to encourage me.  My favorite judge in the courthouse where I work asks me every time I see him, “What are you writing about this week?” and makes it a point to read whatever it is that I do write about.  People who I have asked favors of have met my requests with responses that were so far above and beyond what I needed that I was shocked.  Messages from successful people doing what I want to do telling me they are proud of me give me hope that I am on the right path.

My parents, though, are my biggest supporters.  My mom has driven me to the airport over 20 times this last year.  She helps me come up with smart responses when people tell me to “die in a fire” or when my feelings are hurt.  My dad, who doesn’t have a Twitter account of his own, reads every single one of my tweets.  He is the first person I call when something exciting happens in this journey.  Sometimes that means I call him five or six times a day.  He picks up every time and is always excited to hear about whatever it is, no matter how crazy it is.  They know that this makes me happy, and I think for that, they are happy.

It’s been a great second year.  I sat down a couple months ago with a man who has been a sports journalist for 20 years.  He looked at me encouragingly and said, “Alicia, you are going to do anything you want.  This world is your oyster.”  I pinched myself when I got in the car and drove away that night.  I didn’t have that kind of belief the day before July 1, 2011.

This next year holds great things.  I’m going to continue on with RulingSports.com, Forbes and The Huffington Post.  I’ve been asked by CNBC to begin doing TV work for the network.  And I’m hoping later this week, that I can make official a big announcement that I’ve been sitting on.

What I can say, looking back at the last two years, is to go after your dream–no matter how crazy it is.  The only way to not achieve a dream is to not pursue it.  Be brave enough to make mistakes, but learn from them.  Be amenable to change and willing to transform the definition of your dream.  Be kind to everyone and listen to what advice they have to offer you.  Go out of your way to help others, even if they can never repay you.  Make it a point each night that when your head hits the pillow, you know that you gave that day your all.  Wake up each morning knowing that the day holds new possibilities that you could never even expect.  Be hopeful.  Be grateful.  Refuse to quit on yourself.  No matter how hard it gets.

Thank you all for joining with me or sticking with me on this journey.  It’s been magical and I have you to thank for keeping that magic alive.

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The Keys To Game 4 of the NBA Finals

By:  Kristopher Colley, Ruling Sports Intern

Not showing up has been the consistent theme of the 2013 NBA Finals thus far. The disappearing act performed by both Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in the Eastern Conference Finals has made them as irrelevant as they have ever been.  The days of LeBron James scoring 30-plus points have vanished, Tony Parker has been in-and-out with a minor injury, and Manu Ginobili has not frequently played well.

This means that the unusual suspects have had to step up and take control of the series. In Game 3, Tuesday night, Spurs role players Danny Green and Gary Neal combined for 51 points. The Spurs also connected on 16 three-pointers, which is a new Finals record. Once the Spurs shooters get going, they are difficult to stop; the Spurs were a 38% three-point shooting team during the season, and when they hit, they become very dangerous.

Game 3 was the first game of three games to be held in San Antonio, where the Spurs won 35 games this season. If the Heat plan on stealing a game outside of their home court, like San Antonio did, it will take a lot of momentum by their star players. James must have one of his superstar games. James has yet to have a 20-point game.  If the Heat are going to have any chance at winning, that chance goes through him, like it has throughout the season.

Like the Spurs in the Game 2, the Heat failed to execute on their game plan and got routed because of it.  If Miami plans to bounce back they have to once again play their game. Eleven fast break points is not Miami basketball.  The Heat needs to get back to the customary high-octane, high-flying, energetic basketball that the team is known for.

Games 2 and 3 have been blowouts for both teams. Many experts predicted that this would be a close series, lasting either six or seven games.  Save for the length of the series, it the series overall has not been close nor exciting except for Game 1.  Yet, the one thing that has come to be expected in the Finals, is the unexpected.  And in Game 4, it can be expected that fans will see even more unexpected surprises arise, as how Parker plays with a reported hamstring injury and what change-ups Heat coach Erik Spoelstra executes will likely determine the outcome of the game.

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What Wrestling Must Do To Earn Its Way Back Into the 2020 Olympics

By:  Christian Deme, Ruling Sports Intern (Twitter:  @TheSportingBiz)

On February 12, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made the hotly debated decision to remove wrestling from the summer Olympic program beginning in 2020. Since the announcement of its removal, wrestling proponents have been lobbying the IOC to reconsider its decision, but face competition from the baseball/softball and squash federations.

The IOC is the supreme international authority on Olympic governance per the Olympic Charter. The IOC is considered to be the “guardian” of the Olympic Games and is the ultimate authority on any question relating to the Games, including the determination of which sports are featured in each Olympics.[1]

The general meeting of the members of the IOC is called the Session.  The Session is referred to in the Olympic Charter as the “IOC’s supreme organ.” Generally, Sessions are held once per year, require a quorum of over half the total membership of the IOC, and its decisions are final.

In the Session following each Olympic Games, the IOC reviews the Programme of the Olympic Games.  The Programme covers which sports and events will be featured in each Olympics.

Upon a proposal by the Executive Board of the IOC, the Session has the option to review the addition of sports to the Programme, so long as the total number of sports does not exceed 28 total. When the IOC is lobbied to add a new sport to the Olympic program, it considers the following criteria:[2]

  • Value added by the sport to the Olympic Games.
  • Governance. This category includes good governance principles, including the existence of a code of ethics and gender equity in the governance body.
  • The history and tradition of the sport. This category includes the frequency of World Championships and World Junior Championships.
  • The universality of the sport. This category includes the number of national federations that have participated in the World Championships of the sport, the number of active national federations, and the global spread of success in the sport.
  • The popularity of the sport. This category includes factors such as general public appeal, youth appeal, the popularity of the athletes, the number of spectators, press coverage, tickets sold, sponsors, and digital media.
  • Athletes. This category includes athlete representation in each international federation, the existence of an athletes’ commission in the international federation, athletic career programs, and athletes’ health factors, such as the number of doping tests and violations.
  • Development of the IF/Sport. This category covers the IF’s financial distribution system to support the National Federations and continental associations, the technical evolution of the sport, gender equality, the existence of a Sport for All Commission, the transparency and fairness on the field of play, and environmental policies.
  • Finance. This category covers accounting, income and expenditure, venue costs, technology requirements, and the costs and complexity of television production.

The IOC recently released a shortlist of three sports to be considered for inclusion beginning in the Summer Olympic Games of 2020. The three sports competing for this one spot are: wrestling, baseball/softball, and squash.

The IOC’s decision to drop wrestling in February was based on low television ratings, low public popularity at the London Games, the lack of athletes on the federation’s decision-making bodies, the lack of a women’s commission, the non-existence of ethics rules for technical officials and no medical official on its executive board.

Meanwhile, the IOC’s decision to drop baseball from its summer program was based largely on Major League Baseball’s drug testing falling short of Olympic standards, as well as MLB’s refusal to stop its schedule to permit major league players from participating in the Olympics.

Squash players and associations have been lobbying the Olympics to receive entry as an official sport, but have not had any luck to date.

As the September voting date grows closer, all three sports will be reaching out to the IOC members to make their cases for why their sport should be added to the 2020 Summer Olympics. 

Wrestling and squash seem to be the favorites going into the vote.  The wrestling federation, FILA, has taken steps to address the IOC’s concerns since it dropped the sport.  FILA is working to form a plan to address the marketing issues around the sport, feeding off of a vigorous social media campaign. Additionally, FILA has elected a new president and has included more women in its decision-making roles as well as opened up participation to women in the sport through added weight classes.

Squash has also taken significant steps to boost its image and make its first appearance in an Olympics event. According to World Squash Federation President Narayana Ramachandran in an interview with The Star, “Squash is played in 185 countries by millions across the world…squash also offers genuine medal opportunities to a growing number of countries and has the prospect of new nations on the podium.”  Squash has also shown its growing international presence. Of the women’s top 20 rankings, eleven countries are represented.

Meanwhile, baseball still has not addressed one of the IOC’s major reasons for removing it as a sport. Commissioner Bud Selig has made it known that baseball is not willing to put its season on hold to accommodate the Olympics, and therefore will prohibit MLB players from participating in a baseball event.

It looks like the final Olympic spot will go to either wrestling or squash.  Both sports have demonstrated a willingness to address IOC concerns, and only time will tell which sport has made the most compelling presentation to the IOC come September.

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The Department of Justice Brings Charges Against Two Men Accused of Pranking NFL GMs

By:  Jared Berman, Ruling Sports Intern (Twitter:  @RealSportsNLaw)

Pranked! Two twenty-year-old males from Massachusetts must respond to federal wiretapping charges after successfully initiating a phone call between two NFL general managers. Unbeknownst to the GMs, the men recorded the call and subsequently sold it to Deadspin for $200.00, where it was posted for the world to hear.

The two men, Joshua Barber and Nicholas Kaiser, called former Buffalo Bills GM Buddy Nix, posing as Tampa Bay’s GM Mark Dominik. To Barber’s surprise­­, Nix answered the phone, at which point he nervously hung up. Barber then dialed Dominik, and while he was being connected, Nix returned Barber’s original call. Barber then merged the two phone calls and Kaiser used his device to record the entire six-minute impromptu conversation between Dominik and Nix.

According to the United States Department of Justice,

“Both men are charged with intentionally intercepting a wire communication and with making a telephone call without disclosing their identity with the intent to annoy or harass the person at the called number. The charges carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $500,000 fine or both.

The criminal complaint stems from the investigation by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel.”

The federal criminal charges arise from 18 U.S.C.A. § 2511, a federal statute, which prohibits the interception and disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic communications. The statute expressly requires that a person must act intentionally when committing the unlawful act. While the complaint alleges that the defendants committed the act, the question is whether or not they acted with the requisite intent to be charged with the crime.

Barber and Kaiser could not have planned the prank, Kaiser’s attorney Rodney Personius said, noting the “perfect storm” of Nix calling back while Dominik was on the line. “It wasn’t an intentional or premeditated act,” Personius said, via ESPN.

On the other hand, Personius told ESPN that Barber was “of the belief he has the skills to play in the NFL and was endeavoring to get the attention of Mr. Nix to get a tryout.” This indicates Barber devised a plan to reach Nix in hopes of pleading his case to play football. If Personius is correct, Barber will be found to have acted with premeditation because the phone call was placed deliberately and this would be enough to meet the requisite level of intent for the statute. However, Barber is represented by a public defender, not Personius, and thus Personius’s comments reflecting Barber are merely speculative. Barber’s attorney has yet to comment.

Earlier this week, Kaiser and Barber appeared in court. The judge entered not guilty pleas on their behalf and released them without bail. Clearly, the judge has a good sense of humor and understands that giving two twenty-year old men five years in jail and/or a $500,000 fine is ludicrous. Further, the FBI’s involvement in such a case is unduly wasteful and no reasonable taxpayer would approve of any money being allocated to such an investigation. There was no evidence of any wire-tapping, hacking, or deployment of a virus. Kaiser and Barber reached the GM’s by making simple phone calls to the front office. Perhaps a reorganization of the administrative staff is in order (get a new secretary) but do not send the kids to prison. Because had this been a prank on Jimmy Kimmel Live or the Tonight Show, America would have laughed and nobody would have thought twice. This should be no different.

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Stadium Renovations Grow In Importance For NFL Teams’ Super Bowl Bids

By:  Maya Burchette, Ruling Sports Intern (Twitter:  @MayaBurchette)

NFL owners recently voted on the location for the 2016 and 2017 Super Bowls and one theme was apparent in their decision:  New stadiums are a must.  

The NFL owners awarded the 50th Super Bowl to the San Francisco area and gave the 51st Super Bowl to Houston, shutting out Miami and effectively sending a message to the city about the need for stadium renovations before the league’s showcase game returns. Recently, the NFL has shown a habit of awarding its championship game to cities with new stadiums. Indianapolis held the Super Bowl in 2012, four years after their new stadium had been opened.  Dallas hosted the 2011 Super Bowl less than two years after the new Cowboys Stadium had been built.  Next year’s marquee game will held in New York at MetLife Stadium, which opened in 2010.

NFL teams across the board have begun to recognize the importance of new stadium amenities as an important factor in competing with the at-home fan experience.  As the at-home fan experience has become better and cheaper, while the in-stadium experience has become more expensive, the lure of updated stadium facilities is one thing NFL teams are utilizing to attract fans to their games. The 49ers and the city of Santa Clara partnered recently to build a new stadium that will feature cash-free concessions and ticketless entry. Software engineers are already creating apps for cell phones that will allow fans to order food, watch instant replays, listen to play-by-play and check bathroom lines from their seats. Spending nearly $916 million dollars, it appears that the 49ers and Santa Clara voters’ investment has paid off with the reward of the hosting the 2016 Super Bowl.

Earlier this year, the city of Atlanta announced that it would issue $200 million worth of public bonds to help get the Falcons’ new $1 billion retractable-roof stadium built.  As a result, NFL owners approved a $200 million loan that will go into the stadium fund. Under the newest Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL owners and NFL Players Association, the NFL G-4 Resolution allows teams to receive matching dollars on favorable terms from a league loan pool for investments they make in renovating their stadiums. These loans could bring the total amount available per team for new stadium construction to $200 million. Specifics of G4 financing from the NFL include: up to $200 million for new stadium construction; up to $250 million for stadium renovation; and repayment of G4 financing by the team over 15 years through revenues related to premium seating.  Per the collective bargaining agreement, loans will be given to teams on a case-by-case basis by the NFL.  Additionally, G4 loans are available to only public-private stadium projects.

Other cities seeking to improve their NFL stadiums haven’t been so lucky in securing public-private financing.  Miami’s latest Super Bowl bid failed after the team could not secure public funding from the state legislature. The Dolphins said their stadium needed $350 million in improvements to make it competitive in the Super Bowl market and team owner Stephen Ross has made it clear he is unwilling to pay the entire bill himself.  However, the Florida House of Representatives failed to bring the proposal up for debate before the close of the last session despite many indications that the measure would pass.  After the measure was not set for referendum, Ross maintained that he must receive some public money to pay for improvements.

Miami’s stadium woes will have both a short and long-term economic impacts on the area.  Most notably, Ross was quoted saying that the renovation project could have created around 4,000 jobs in the Miami-Dade area.  Additionally, a recent economic study released by the 2013 New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee found that Super Bowl XLVII produced an economic impact of around $480 million for the region and generated nearly $21.0 million of state tax revenue from, sales, hotel, gambling, and income taxes. These state tax collections included $13.1 million in direct state taxes paid from visitor spending within the local economy plus $7.9 million of indirect tax revenues resulting from the earnings attributable to organizational, media and visitor spending.

In order for the Dolphins to compete with the at-home fan experience they must modernize their stadium either by making improvements to the current facility or by moving into a new venue. Both options require a compromise between Dolphin ownership and the Florida legislature about the amount of public funding needed. Until the stadium condition is resolved Miami’s Super Bowl prospects will remain slim.

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2013 Ruling Sports Summer Interns

It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to the 2013 Ruling Sports summer interns!  These five individuals were chosen out of many applicants because of their knowledge of the law, great writing skills and passion for sports.  I am looking forward to working with them this summer and hopefully serving as a mentor as they move forward with their careers.

JARED BERMAN

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After culminating his third “best sportsmanship” trophy in youth basketball, Jared Berman realized his moral fiber surpassed his jump shot and reevaluated his long-term goal of becoming the next Kobe Bryant. Determined on having sports a part of his life, he set out to be a analyst, hoping one-day to influence the professionals he grew up idolizing.

Born in Long Beach, California and raised just south in Irvine, Berman had the luxuries of the beach at his fingertips with the enjoyment of the Angels, Ducks, and Lakers just a short drive away.

At age eighteen, he temporarily discarded Orange County living and headed east to study at the University of Arizona. While pursuing a degree in political science, he bolstered his legal understanding and became Captain of the college’s mock trial team. But life wasn’t all work; he also joined the AEPI fraternity and may or may not own a toga.
Following the college years, Berman moved back to Irvine and spent the year applying to law school. Meanwhile he juggled three part time jobs–as a LSAT proctor, sports counselor at the local Jewish Community Center, and waiter at the Cheesecake Factory.

Berman has since become a student at Chapman Law School, anticipating to graduate in May of 2015. He was the only first-year selected on Chapman’s Mock Trial Team, and is interested in trial advocacy and sports law. He is a self-proclaimed fantasy football guru, hard-core problem solver, and his favorite meal of the day is caffeine. Berman founded a website, SportsNLaw.com, which provides sports news through a legal lens.

Twitter:  @realsportsnlaw

Email:  berma118@mail.chapman.edu

MAYA BURCHETTE

ImageMaya Burchette is a rising second year law student at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Originally from Denver, Colorado, Maya earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Howard University in Washington, DC. While at Howard Maya competed for three years for the Lady Bison softball team and was awarded the Howard Athletics Academic Excellence Award and was named to the Middle Eastern Athletic Conference All Academic Team. Additionally, she served as the President of the Colorado Club and was a contributing writer for the Howard University News Service.

Currently she is the social media coordinator for the Tulane Sports Law Society @TulaneSportsLaw and Vice President of Tulane’s La Alianza De Recho.

A life long sports fan and athlete, she loves how sports often transcend the human experience and ultimately Maya hopes to break into the sports law and work in the industry as in house counsel. When she has spare time, she enjoys cooking, crossfit and watching the Denver Broncos.

Twitter:  @MayaBurchette

Email:  mayaburchette@gmail.com

MARK BURNS

ImageMark graduated from the University of Michigan in May 2011 and will enter his third year of law school at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee this upcoming fall. He has aspirations of working in the sports business industry upon graduation in 2014.

He was recently named a 2013 “30 Under 30″ Award Recipient (Sports Launch Magazine) in addition to being named A Rising Star In #SportsBiz for 2013 (SportsNetworker.com).

This summer, Mark will participate in the Second Annual Manhattan Sports Business Academy, an 8-week summer sports business leadership program in New York City. MSBA is designed for undergraduate and graduate students and young professionals who want to gain invaluable experience in the sports industry and get a jump start into the fast paced, high energy sports business world through internships, mentoring, and networking.

As part of the program, Mark will be interning with the General Counsel at Leverage Agency in New York City. He will also continue his current role as the Assistant Producer for SportsNetworker.com and the Sports Executives Association in addition to writing regularly for BusinessofCollegeSports.com, a blog started by ESPN’s Sports Business Reporter, Kristi Dosh.

Mark’s past internships include time spent with the Nashville Predators, Central Collegiate Hockey Association, and Elite Talent Agency.

Twitter:  @MarkJBurns88

Email:  burnmark@umich.edu

KRISTOPHER COLLEY

Kris Colley

Kristopher [Kris] Colley is a junior psychology major and journalism minor at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia who is from Denver, Colorado.  Kris’ hobbies include watching, talking about, and playing sports.  Growing up and still today, sports have been one of the only things he fully relates to.  In the past, Kris has played baseball, and basketball competitively, but his favorite sport to play and watch is football.

Kris’ goal for many years has been becoming a sports journalist.  He also loves travelling, which sports journalist do a great deal of and believes that becoming a sports journalist would allow him to accomplish two of his loves, sports and travelling.

As a writer, Kris enjoys educating readers on various topics.  Informing them on news and helping them gain a further insight on a subject or story.  Kris feels that by being helpful, people begin to trust and listen to you.  Kris enjoys being a role model and leading others by example.

Email:  kcolley5293@gmail.com

CHRISTIAN DEME

Christian Deme is a rising 3L at Marquette University Law School, home of the National Sports Law Institute. While at Marquette University Law School, Christian has focused primarily on a curriculum of corporate law classes. Christian spent a year serving as the Student Bar Association Director of the Professional Development Committee, is on the Moot Court Team at Marquette, is a member of the Moot Court Board, and is also actively involved in the Business Law Society, as well as the Sports Law Society. Christian has a passion for sports and has taken classes on both Amateur and Professional Sports Law. Christian graduated from the University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign in 2009 and has a B.A. in Political Science with supporting coursework in Sociology. At the University of Illinois, Christian was an actively involved national delegate of Theta Chi Fraternity, member the University of Illinois Sailing Club, and served on the University of Illinois General Curriculum Student Council.
Outside of school, Christian also works as a law school associate for a foreclosure defense law firm in Chicagoland, where he formerly worked as a paralegal and litigation assistant. Christian hopes to work as a transactional attorney in the area of business planning and mergers and acquisitions after law school.
Christian is originally from Chicago and is huge hockey fan. Christian occasionally blogs about the Chicago Blackhawks, runs a fan page of the Blackhawks on Facebook, and has spent extensive time researching the collective bargaining agreement and labor law issues of the National Hockey League.
Twitter:  TheSportingBiz
JOHN LEPPLER
I am originally from Millburn, New Jersey and have lived there my entire life.At UMASS-Amherst I played lacrosse for a couple of years because, I will be honest, I saw more time on the bench than I did the field.

In law school, the areas of law that I hope to become an expert in are intellectual property, antitrust, and labor and employment. Will it get to me to where I want to be? I will see in years to come. However, If I could sit down, get in exercise and write about sports each and everyday for the rest of my life, there is no doubt that I have landed my ‘dream job’ (of course, I am hoping I can do that somewhere in a hot climate near a beach, each and everyday, it’s the “New Jersey” within).

Law school from a sports perspective thus far, has allowed me to provide legal analysis for different issues in the sports industry thus far. From an intellectual property law perspective, I am fascinated by the current class action lawsuit, O’Bannon v. NCAA. In a nutshell, there are two key issues riding on the lawsuit: 1) Is the language in Student Athlete Form 08-3a ambiguous on its face, allowing the NCAA to perpetually stripped the former student-athletes ability to license themselves to corporations in order to make money for themselves? Has the NCAA and Electronic Arts 2) has the NCAA and Electronic Arts violated the former student-athletes’ ‘right of publicity?’ In other words has the NCAA and Electronic used former collegiate student-athletes protected attributes for its own commercial benefit?

Twitter:  @Lepp326
Email:  jjleppler@yahoo.com

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The Curious Case Of Kobe Bryant’s Memorabilia: Will He Get It Back?

According to legal documents, for over fifteen years, Kobe Bryant’s mother, Pamela, held onto many of the mementos documenting her son’s illustrious basketball career.  Like many mothers before her, Pamela alleges that she asked Kobe if he wanted the items back.  Like many children before him, Kobe allegedly retorted that he did not.  Needing space in her home to create a playroom for her grandchildren, Pamela says that she placed a variety of Kobe’s basketball mementos into a storage facility, which cost her $1,500 monthly.  

While the course Pamela took in storing her son’s mementos is something many mothers before her have done before, the next move she made is one few have ever taken.  On December 27, 2012, Pamela allegedly contacted Goldin Auctions, offering a variety of Kobe’s items she was holding in storage for sale.  On January 2, 2013, Pamela signed a consignment agreement with Goldin Auctions.  In the agreement, she guaranteed that she was the sole owner of the consigned items and that she had full and clear title to the items.  She also agreed to be charged a commission rate of 20 percent from the items’ final bid prices, meaning that she would reap 80 percent of the price that they were sold for.  Upon signing the agreement, she was wired an advance of $450,000 on January 3, 2013.

Pamela did the foregoing without Kobe Bryant’s knowledge.  In fact, he remained oblivious to the above for over three months.  During that time, his mother allegedly took the $450,000 transferred to her by Goldin Auctions and put a down payment on a home in Nevada.  Goldin Auctions began preparing to sell the memorabilia Pamela had given it.  Part of that preparation included publicizing the auction.  It was only through those publicity efforts, which culminated in an April 30 press release picked up by national media outlets, that Kobe got wind of his mother’s intent to auction off many of his basketball mementos.

A story line like this has only one reasonable finishing place:  court.  Upon seeing the press release, Kobe Bryant hired law firm Loeb & Loeb LLP to issue a cease and desist letter to Goldin Auctions, demanding that it return the items to Kobe and forego the auction.  Then, Kobe sought a temporary restraining order in Orange County, CA in an effort to stall the auction’s June 2013 date.  This order was granted.  Subsequently, Goldin Auctions filed a lawsuit against Kobe in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.  Days later, Kobe filed a lawsuit against Goldin Auctions in California state court.  Goldin Auctions’ New Jersey lawsuit has been set for trial, which is to begin on June 17.  It is likely that Kobe’s lawsuit will be transferred to that court and the actions will be consolidated.

The question remains, though, as to whether or not Kobe will get the items he claims are his back from Goldin Auctions.  In his lawsuit, Kobe alleges causes of action for conversion and declaratory relief.  The conversion cause of action alleges that at all times, Kobe was lawfully entitled to possession of the items Goldin Auctions received from his mother and planned sell.  The declaratory relief cause of action asks the court to determine that Kobe had the right to possess the property exclusive of all others and that Goldin Auctions must return the property to him.  

In its lawsuit, Goldin Auctions seeks temporary and permanent injunctive relief, preventing Kobe from regaining the property.  Goldin Auctions also seeks delcaratory judgment that it is the legal owner of the memorabilia Pamela Bryant consigned to it.

The crux of both cases boils down to whether Kobe Bryant actually granted ownership of the items to his mother, or if she constructively owned them.  Goldin Auctions’ lawsuit includes allegations that Kobe and his wife, Vanessa, told Pamela that they did not want the items and that he said, “here mom, these are for you.”  On the contrary, Kobe’s lawsuit alleges that he has asked his mother for the items back repeatedly to no avail and that he would have never given her permanent ownership of them, as he plans to pass them on to his daughters.  Furthermore, he alleges that he believes some of the items were not in Pamela’s possession prior to being given to Goldin Auctions, but rather, in his home.

Given the differing accounts regarding the ownership of the memorabilia, is is plausible that these cases will see trial.  This is because it is unlikely that the parties will be able to reach a consensus during a pre-trial mediation as to who the owner of the property is.  To further complicate matters, Pamela Bryant is reportedly in Thailand, and thus, unlikely to be available for any pre-trial mediation.  Thus, one glaring issue likely facing a judge or jury’s decision, is who actually owned the memorabilia:  Kobe or Pamela Bryant?  As such, it will be important for both sides’ lawyers to fully construct a timeline of events related to each piece of property given to Goldin Auctions and what conversations were held or actions were taken regarding the ownership of those pieces of property between Kobe and Pamela.

While ownership of the items is the biggest issue facing each party, another hurdle stands in the way of Goldin Auctions’ claim.  In its cause of action seeking temporary and permanent injunctive relief, Goldin Auctions alleges that it will be irreparably harmed if it is not allowed to go forward with the auction.  As its basis for this allegation, Goldin Auctions alleges that it has already advanced $450,000 to Pamela Bryant and “. . . the sports memorabilia are one of a kind unique items that cannot be replaced and [Goldin Auctions] will lose all profits it rightfully expected from the auction.”  

The issue with this allegation, is that Goldin Auctions will not be irreparably harmed if it is unable to auction the items Pamela Bryant consigned to it.  As noted above, Pamela signed a consignment agreement with Goldin Auctions, whereby she warranted that she was the owner of the items.  If it turns out that Kobe was the owner of the items, Pamela breached the terms of the contract she signed with Goldin Auctions, since she was not the owner.  As such, Goldin Auctions could subsequently file a breach of contract lawsuit against her.  In this lawsuit, Goldin Auctions could remedy its harm, by  seeking as damages the $450,000 it advanced to Pamela.  Thus, it is on this argument that Goldin Auctions’ lawsuit against Kobe might fail, and thus, that Kobe may prevail in his attempt to block the auction.

Given the above, why then is Goldin Auctions moving forward with litigation against Kobe?  In all reality, it most likely boils down to money.  Obviously, Goldin Auctions sees the possibility of turning a huge profit by selling the Kobe memorabilia.  However, it also probably realizes that if it is unable to sell the memorabilia, it is unlikely to recoup the $450,000 it advanced to Pamela Bryant.  This is due to the fact that she has reportedly already spent all of it to put the down payment on the Nevada home.  From their perspective, the thought is probably that if she had to sell her son’s mementos to afford the down payment, it’s unlikely that she’ll be able to come up with another $450,000 to repay them the advancement.  Who, then, has deep enough pockets for Goldin Auctions to recuperate this loss from?  The obvious answer is Kobe.  

The outcome of this case will likely provide guidance for athletes in how they store their memorabilia going forward.  As a result, some may choose to draft written agreements with their parents fully setting out who owns any property that is stored at the parents’ homes.  The sad truth demonstrated by this situation, though, is that nothing really comes easy for athletes.  For years, grown children have stored their mementos at their parents homes without the interference of legal action.  Yet, as it oftentimes does with professional athletes and celebrities, even this simple task appears to have been complicated in this case.  

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Your Super Bowl Reporter: What Do You Want To Know?

Here is the truth of the matter:  I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of you.

When I launched RulingSports.com on July 1, 2011, I had no idea if anyone would read what I wrote (save for my parents, who constantly remind me they are my biggest fans–they are forced to be).  Much to my surprise, more people than my two parents read RulingSports.com on its first day of existence.  And those people, and thousands more have continued to visit it over the last 18 months.  I’m aware that it is largely because of my readers and the kind people who follow me on Twitter that I am being given this opportunity to be credentialed for the Super Bowl.  Your support helped get me here.

To say “thanks” for your support, I want to go to New Orleans and dig up the stories you want answers to.  If you could attend a Super Bowl, what questions would you ask?  What would you want to know?  Where would you visit?

Tell me your ideas and your questions in the comments space below, and I will do my best to find the answers!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@RulingSports) as I’ll be tweeting many updates throughout the week.  You can find pictures on my Instagram account (Instagram.com/RulingSports) and my Facebook fan page (Facebook.com/AliciaJessop).  My sports business stories will be found on Forbes while my non-credentialed social interest stories will be found on The Huffington Post.  Each night, I’ll update my personal website with updates on what I experienced.

I invite you to come along with me to the Super Bowl!  It is going to be quite the experience!

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