Why Sports Law?


  • Sherman J. Clark
Publish Date:
July, 2017
Publication Title:
Stanford Law and Policy Review
Stanford University
Place of Publication:
Stanford, California
Journal Article Volume 28 Issue 2
  • Sherman J. Clark, Why Sports Law?, 28 Stanford Law & Policy Review 2 (2017).
Related Organization(s):


This essay argues that sports law can be more than just a fascinating and
topical subject with great appeal to those who work or hope to work in the field.
It can also be a valuable intellectual and pedagogical enterprise—even for those
who do not or will not work in sports. In particular, sports law can be a useful
and clarifying lens through which to study the law more broadly. This is because
sports enterprises and issues tend to put unique and potentially illuminating
pressures on the law. Ordinary or unexamined assumptions often break down or
prove inadequate when confronted with the relatively unique world of sports.
This in turn forces scholars, students, and courts to think more deeply about the
law—and in the process facilitates that deeper thought.

This essay first describes some of the things that make sports relatively
unique and therefore challenging to the law. The bulk of this essay then addresses
three specific areas of law: 1) antitrust, 2) trademark, and 3) sex discrimination.
These three contexts are used to highlight and illustrate the ways in which sports
law can call upon us to rethink what we think we know—and thus can help
deepen and clarify our thinking. This essay concludes by suggesting that teachers
and scholars of sports law should try to tap the intellectual and pedagogical
potential the subject offers.