Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Shameless Plug: Social Media in Sports: Can Professional Sports League Commissioners Punish 'Twackle Dummies'?

Please excuse this interruption to your regularly scheduled May Day reading as I shamelessly plug my article, which was recently published by the Pace I.P., Sports & Entertainment Law Forum. 

With celebrities, politicians, athletes, and non-athlete-kinda-Twitter famous-so not really celebrities, finding themselves in hot water due to some unfortunate comments they made via social media, I thought out loud---well---actually wrote out loud, as to whether professional sports league commissioners had the authority to punish their respective sports stars for tweeting bone-headed comments.   From my abstract:

Daniel J. Friedman writes an article discussing the rise and popularity in social media use by professional athletes. He then discusses some of the new problems that have arisen due to social media misuse and the power of the Commissioner to restrict and punish the players for misuse. The article culminates with a case study hypothetical related to content based social media misuse and whether the Commissioners of professional sports league can punish a player for the content of their social media messages.
 My conclusion is that although Sports Commissioners can unilaterally implement social media time, place and manner restrictions that prevent players from using social media immediately prior to, during, and immediately work time (i.e. games); they would have difficulty unilaterally implementing content based social media restrictions.  Content based social media restrictions related to what a player says off the clock likely is a mandatory subject of collective bargaining since it affects players' "wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment" as per the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 158(d) (1994).  

The Sports Leagues seem to agree with me as both Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League have both recently collectively bargained over their respective social media policies.  In pertinent part the NHL's new policy:
 makes it clear that players and club personnel will be be held responsible for their social communications in the same manner in which they are held responsible for other forms of public communications. As a result, discipline is possible for any social media statements that have or are designed to have an effect prejudicial to the welfare of the League, the game of hockey or a member club, or are publicly critical of officiating staff.
To get an in depth legal analysis, you should head over and read my paper.  Increase my download rate while you are at it. Included in the paper is a case study as to whether Bud Selig could have punished John Rocker, (yeah, you remember that guy?) for the homophobic and slightly racist remarks he made to a Sports Illustrated Reporter, if instead he just took to Twitter and let his conscious train of thought be his guide. Additionally, please check out all my esteemed co-authors' papers here who cover numerous sports and entertainment law related topics.  Lastly, I would like to thank the PIPSELF Editors, Staff, and my Marquette Law Student Colleagues who provided me with great advice and feedback as I worked on my paper. 

No comments:

Post a Comment