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On a Monday

I write this on Sunday afternoon from Baltimore. Friday night I traveled to DC for the Washington Wizards basketball game.  The game was so exciting that even the scoreboard operator must have been so effected by the win that he forgot how to spell “Wizards”

Wizards Win

Saturday morning it was on to Baltimore. Peaceful  demonstrations over a man who had been killed two weeks earlier by police, turned to riots. There are still many unanswered questions and even missing security camera footage, according to the Baltimore Sun.  Outside the hotel door I took this picture as I listened to sirens and loud noise.

Baltimore Riot

Last night’s Orioles’ game was interrupted by the public address announcer in the ninth inning. He reportedly advised everyone in the stadium to stay in the stadium while the police outside donned riot gear in an attempt to break up the gathering crowd.

I will be back at the Washington tonight for the Wizards playoff game. These events reminded me that even though I get emotionally involved as a fan, it really is insignificant in the big picture.  Seeing anxiety in the faces of some Baltimore residents at the hotel was a much different emotion than the expressions at the basketball game.

Those Diet Drinks!

This past week I watched a lot of basketball including the ACC tournament and games that featured University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth. As a sports fan, this is a great time of year.

While watching these games, you start to see the same commercials repeated over and over. So much so, that on occasion I have found myself thinking that I will never buy that car or that product being advertised. Maybe they really are just trying to irritate me into an angry purchase. Is that a marketing ploy?

There is one ad that I just cannot get enough of it. In fact, I’ve even mentioned it in a previous blog. It’s really a spokesman/animal. It’s the Food Lion lion. Here he’s even at a tailgating party:

lion

 

Seriously, I know that a lion cannot talk and dispense wisdom on budgets and shopping. Although, lions might enjoy picnics and tailgating. So there’s that!  There’s even one where he enjoys getting his hair/mane blown back like a “hair band member” from an 80’s rock band.

The Food Lion lion is a figment of our imagination and fancy televison editing. Another figment of our imagination… diet soft drinks.

According to WebMD, after eight years of collecting research data,  researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center have reported findings that a person’s risk for being overweight increases by 41 percent, for every can or bottle of diet soft drink that they drink per day.

Also in the book A Lighter You! Train Your Brain to Slim Your Body, author  Holly Stokes, a certified Hypnotherapist and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner, writes that drinking diet drinks are more likely to cause weight gain than non-diet soda and may lead to health problems including diabetes and heart disease.

When we take the concept of diet soda as being part of losing weight, it is true that it saves approximately 140 calories versus other sugary drinks. Unfortunately, it is linked to causing tooth decay, depression, loss of bone density and has been linked by some researchers to heart problems. Not to mention the fact that diet drinks have no nutrional value.

The above reported study followed over 9500 people to arrive at these research findings. Unfortunately, diet drinks are like the Food Lion lion.

Of course, I still am waiting to hear the Food Lion lion say the diet drinks are healthy. I might then be persuaded!

And for pic o’ day

foreign

What is it Worth?

Hanging on our walls in our downstairs Richmond office is various artwork, sports memorabilia and  photographs. I have a special interest in sports memorabilia and have always tried to collect in specific areas, rather than trying to cover all sports.

I suppose that my legal background draws me to sports contracts. So as  a sports fan with a legal bend, I began to collect, among other things, sports memorabilia that included sports contracts.

On our wall hangs several contracts. I took this picture,  from our office wall, of the one below. It is former major league  baseball player Reggie Jackson’s baseball  rookie contract. He signed this on April 6, 1973.  It is also signed by former Oakland Athletics owner Charlie O. Finley. It shows that he was to receive a salary of $35,000 with a deferred amount after his retirement, in the amount of $40,000.

Jackson piece

 

 

 

When most people walk past the contract hanging on the hallway wall, they don’t notice it. Others stop and look at it and sometimes ask  about it.

From the AP and Richmond Times-Dispatch comes a story of a recent auction that brought over $883,000 that included a lock of  Abraham Lincoln’s hair from his death bed that sold for $25,000 as well as the following items and their totals:

a clipping of linen from Lincoln’s death bed and stained with Lincoln’s blood, for $6,000.

— an1864 letter signed by Lincoln and authorizing prisoner-of-war swap involving Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s son from a Union POW camp, for $27,500.

— A display of photographs and autographs from Lincoln, Booth and Boston Corbett, the soldier who shot and killed Booth — a set nicknamed “The Martyr, The Assassin and The Avenger” — which sold for $30,000.

— a set of four oil paintings created for a carnival side show displaying the mummified remains of a man claimed to be Booth, for $30,000.

— Booth’s military arrest warrant, for $21,250.

— a framed White House Funeral Admittance Card, for $11,875.

— a letter signed by Mary Todd Lincoln on her personal mourning stationary, for $10,625.

Do you put any value on a baseball contract? When you read about these Lincon items, how does it hit you? Can you imagine people buying these? Does it seem a bit macabre. (I have always wanted to use that word!)

Here’s the analogy to the legal blog. In our jury trials, we call witnesses to testify to losses that clients have suffered. It’s easy to put a value on medical expenses because we already have totals.

It’s the losses that don’t have a direct dollar value that are hardest to be considered. What one person may put as a significant loss, may not impact the juror sitting next to them.

What is the value to a client who can no longer workout and then gains a significant amount of weight because of it? What is the value of pain and not being able to lift small kids; or the value of a scar, or no longer being able to wear high heels because of the ankle pain.

We all have heard “what’s one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. The legal concept of damages. In a jury trial, putting value to loss and harm is what all juries are asked to do in arriving at a verdict. What is the injury worth?

And for pic o’ day, I suppose this would be a tough jury for a dog bite case:

dog bite

After Labor Day

You might have had a hamburger or hot dog for Labor Day, or even an ice cream. Well, here’s an ESPN story about a baseball player who did not appreciate his ice cream.

Jesus Montero was considered to be a “can’t miss” prospect in the New York Yankees farm system. He was then sent to the Seattle Mariners in a deal that was expected to begin a long major league career in Seattle. Unfortunately for Montero, that has not developed.

The Seattle organization has been losing patience in Montero’s effort. They have changed his position from catcher to first base, to designated hitter. They have brought him to the majors, put him in the minors; and he is now all the way down in Class A. This occurred after he returned from a 50-game-suspension relating to his positive testing for a banned performance- enhancing drug(s).

The Mariners put him all the way in Single A because they have questioned his baseball preparation, and that he showed up for spring training almost 40 pounds overweight. Now to the ice cream.

Apparently, one of the Seattle organizational scouts was at a recent Montero baseball game. Reportedly, the player did not hustle out a ground ball to first base; Exactly what they have been saying about his effort. In response, the scout sent an ice cream sandwich down to Montero. He was trying to make a point. He did. Montero didn’t like it.

Montero left the dugout, armed with a baseball… and the ice cream sandwich. He charged the scout in the stands and hurled the sandwich at the scout. Before getting there with his bat, he was restrained by other players.

Should we say that the moral of the story is that it is better to send an ice cream sundae instead of a sandwich? Or, some gifts are just not well received! If you did have an ice cream yesterday, I hope that you did enjoy it. It really is not good for throwing.

 

And for pic o’ day we have Carl the cat giving himself a pep talk:

car the cat

Baseball Cards for Sale

 

On Thursday, I attended the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore Convention Center was filled with table after table of sports memorabilia and cards. This picture of me, looking a bit disheveled, was taken after I had walked about 4 straight hours.

I saw someone selling a game-worn Virginia Squires warm-up jersey. I really had no idea how much it would cost, but I would have guessed around $700. You could have knocked me over with a feather when he quoted $25,000.

I guess he’s assuming that there is an old Virginia Squires’ fan who will just have to have that. He didn’t even seem negotiable. It is interesting that “game-used” is worth more than new.

Most cannot understand why anyone would want to pay money for cardboard, just because it has pictures of football or baseball players. At the Convention, there were lines for past and present athletes who were signing autographs. Again, there are a lot of people who just don’t have any interest in someone signing their name; unless they are writing them a check.

To put someone’s likeness on a card usually means that you have to pay them something for the right to do so. Sometimes, that involves large-scale contracts that are entered into with an entire league, for the specific rights to distribute “picture cards”.

In April, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck was preparing himself for the upcoming NFL draft. (Yes, he is an Indianapolis Colt, so I ask for your patience as I insert him in blogs over the coming years. That’s fandom). His advisors learned that the Leaf Card Company had printed this card to the left, and were beginning to distribute it as his rookie card.

According to USA Today, his lawyer sent them a “cease and desist” letter to tell them to stop distributing this card without his licensing permission. Leaf responded by filing suit against Luck, alleging that they had the absolute right to print and distribute because they owned the rights to the US Army All American Bowl, where he had just earlier played.

In May, the suit was quietly dropped. Neither party gave any details about the dismissal. I’m guessing that Leaf decided that they didn’t want to try to win the battle and lose the war of public relations, that might also effect their NFL contracts in the future.

Sports collecting is big business. A 1951 Mickey Mantle Bowman card sold for 600K a few years ago. Recently, a rookie Honus Wagner card sold for 1.2 million. The 2 1/2 by 1 1/2 inch card has such great value because of the scarcity. The American Tobacco Company sold the cards between 1909-1911. Because Wagner was against Tobacco, he managed to stop the distribution of his card, so that only a few were sold.

It stands for the premise that something is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it.

For pic o’ day, I didn’t take this picture but I know what this feels like. Good for more walking.  Guess it’s called a set of Escairs:

 

 

 

 

An Olympic Badminton Punishment

 

I fall in the category of the uneducated, when it comes to badminton. You might as well be talking lawn darts to me. Well, I don’t know much about that either. But, we have learned that you can’t lose to win at the Olympics.

In this photo, referee Torsten Berg is talking to the Korean coach, as he issues a black card to the players during a doubles match between Korea and Indonesia.

ESPN reported  that eight female badminton players were disqualified from the London Olympics. The Badminton World Federation had investigated South Korea, China and Indonesia and determined that they should be punished for “not using one’s best efforts to win a match”. The statement went on to say that the eight players were punished for “conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport”.

Olympic Badminton competition is based on a round-robin system instead of a straight elimination. So, by deliberately losing a game; that can lead to a matchup with a lesser team in the next round, without penalty for the prior loss.

It came down to a question of measuring the intent of the Olympic spirit versus the right to compete in a manner that a team believes would give it the best chance to win a medal.

According to some of the spectators of those matches, the players were dumping serves into the net and making simple errors like hitting the shuttlecock far wide of the court. (I bet it will be a long time before I get to blog about a shuttlecock again) Beijing badminton silver medalist, Gail Emms, said that the matches were embarrassing to watch.  She described that “It was absolutely shocking. The crowds were booing and chanting “Off, off, off.'”

I have surprised myself with my Olympic viewing. But, I have to admit that it hasn’t included Badminton. Still, I have included this in a legal blog because these athletes have not violated the rules. They have played specifically within the rules. Instead, they are being punished because authority says that this competition is more than rules. I think that it is easy to argue both sides.

In the NFL, at the end of the year it is not unusual for teams to rest their starters to get ready for the playoffs. It’s best for the team for future wins. No one says that the “spirit of the competition” includes competing, at the expense of injury that may effect winning in the future. In fact, many times it results in just letting the opposing team win at the end of a season.

I don’t really know any analogy to law,  unless we went back to the practice of law in the 50’s and 60’s. I’m told that back then, lawyers all knew each other. Everyone worked hard for their client, but not at the expense of offending the other community lawyers. I could be oversimplying a bit. But, it sounds nice to have good law sportmanship in represention. Just doesn’t seem realistic today, and no one expects it.

For pic o’ day, I decided to post two that go along with “letter of the law” or just the wrong use of the letters.

 

 

 

 

Kill The Head

If you follow football or watch ESPN for more than a minute per day; you probably heard the pregame “motivational speech” that the defensive coordinator for the Saints,  gave to his defense before the NFC championship game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Just by happenstance, a man making a documentary was recording when Coach Williams said in part, the following, “We’ve got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head. We want him running sideways. We want his head sideways. Every single one of you, before you get off the pile, affect the head. Early, affect the head. Continue tough and hit the head.”

In print it looks bad. If you heard it, you know that it sounded monotone and cold;  like some serial killer. Some have defended it.  Others, like Hall-of-fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, have said that Williams should face criminal charges.

It was a speech that addressed attacking a man to give him a head injury. The other part of the speech included going after a player’s knee and also injuring their quarterback.

Some defensive players have tried to provide some defense that includes that he really didn’t mean it. Intentionally injuring someone is just hyperbole for the violence of football.  These are probably the same people that listen to Jim Nance announce the Masters as though everything in the present is actually history; and they conclude that it’s all historical. Living in fantasy. (I just wanted to throw something in about the Masters. I did want one man to move because he was blocking my golf course view with his stomach. Yep, no pictures because no cell phones, and now I know why!)

When I heard this speech, it made me think about practicing law a bit. Recently, we have had some cases continued because there were no judges available.

The Virginia General Assembly just entered into a compromise state budget that supposedly includes money for filling 23 trial court judge positions. Unfortunately, that’s only a start.

When someone says that they want their day in court, they usually don’t think of how it will happen. Our case in two weeks has been set for almost a year. Experts from out of state and in state have been retained and they have their schedules set to come to trial. Unfortunately, most of those retainers are non-refundable and will have to be paid again for the next trial setting.

It really is a good strategy for insurance companies, lobbyists and wrongdoers. You don’t always have to donate to campaigns or causes on a large scale; just target a few on such committees as the Appropriations committee or Finance to fight funding. If there are no judges to hear the cases and no one gets appointed, then cases take longer to get to court.

Sometimes I use my blog for personal venting. Forgive me for some venting. In legal terms, one way to “Kill the Head” is  to make sure that there is no funding. No Judges… No trials. Kills Justice.

For pic o’ day, I went with two. When you take a bit of vacation and come back; sometimes it makes you wonder why you would ever leave. I thought I would find some pictures about “being busy” and these made me laugh.

   

Forrest Gump Marketing

Bill Gramatica was a kicker from Argentina who signed with the Arizona Cardinals as their field goal kicker. Unlike any other kicker in the NFL, including even his brother Martin, who did his own crazy kicking celebration; Bill would celebrate each successful kick like an absolute leaping wild man. It was almost as though he had never seen a football game before.

In 2001, he lined up for a kick in the first half, against the New York Giants. When it went successfully through the uprights, it gave his team the first score of the game. You would have thought that Bill G had just won the game. He jumped up in the air in a spastic celebration and came crashing to earth on his knee.

His successful kick and celebration caused him to tear his knee ligament. The injury placed him on the injured list for the rest of the year and then he was cut by the team. To this day, he is placed on every “wow that’s dumb” injury.

The football coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars decided to motivate his players to keep at it. So, he brought wood and an ax for a team activity to “keep chopping wood” or to remind them to just keep at it. One of the players got so excited that he swung and missed and chopped at his own leg. Because he was the kicker, it put him out for the rest of the season. Most couldn’t decide whether to blame it on the coach or the kicker.

If you google silly sports injuries or “most embarrassing injuries”, you will find such injuries as a soccer player who got injured when he dropped a bottle of salad dressing on his foot. Another broke his arm when reaching for the remote. One baseball player fell asleep under the tanning bed and was unable to play because of his “sunburn”.

In the movie “Forrest Gump”, Gump admittedly went through life with a slow mind. His mother taught him to work hard, despite his difficulty. So, he would always repeat her saying of “Stupid is as stupid does”.

Sometimes, I think that certain businesses think that we’re all a bunch of Forrest Gumps walking around. The way they advertise is baffling. For instance, I keep seeing the same car ad that tells me that you can basically “name your own price”. Then, in real small print, there are all kinds of exceptions. Basically, it lets them turn down any price you name, after they’ve gotten you to their lot. I had to rewind and stop to see that small print nonsense.

In Federal law, there’s protection for us that is called The Lanham Act. It protects us against false advertising.

The Department of Transportation just fined Spirit Airlines for false advertising. They were advertising $9 one-way fares. To find out if were are any additional fees, they required a potential consumer to click through at least 2 web pages to find out the other fees and charges that were added on the fare. Plus they didn’t list the additional charges in their print advertisements.

I get it that we are supposed to read the fine print. It just shouldn’t be like an Easter Egg hunt to find the real cost of things.

Recent transportation reports indicate that airlines added about 10.2 billion to their bottom lines by adding on fare and baggage charges. Starting January 24, 2012, air carriers will be required to include all government taxes and fees in their advertised fare totals. Maybe we can escape the hiding of the tax, tags or made up dealer freight and set-up. Boarding early or the special tiny luggage bin fee will probably be in sight. They don’t charge that now, do they?

The charges bother me; And, the marketing bothers me. As Forrest Gump said, “That’s about all I have to say about that”.

For pic o’ day, the above makes me feel like we could all use a bit of protection against fraud pricing.

Grand Slam of a Promise

 

     CC Carpet of Texas made quite a promise that it had to keep. It has become known as “Josh Hamilton’s $500,000 swing”.

     For the month of September, this Texas flooring company was running a promotion that was tied to the performance of a Texas Rangers’ baseball player. If Josh Hamilton hit a grand slam, then any money that you spent for new flooring or countertops, would be reimbursed.

     Hamilton is known for his homerun power. Although, he had not hit a grand slam for about three years. So, when he hit it out of the park with bases loaded, on Wednesday, CC Carpet had to live up to their promise; A reimbursement of 500K.

     Of course, they are getting national and probably international coverage for this while other Texas flooring companies are probably feeling like they are only hitting a single for now. It’s some good advertising.

     Usually, promotions like this are covered by insurance. Some insurance company evaluates the risk of Hamilton hitting the grand slam, and they come up with the premium to charge the retailer. It’s what is in effect for a lot of those million dollar half court basketball shots. I even once blogged on a hockey goal to goal shot where payment was contested after the win. Just like insurance companies!

     In the practice of law, it would be difficult to have a fun promotion like this. The State Bar won’t allow me to give away free wills, if the Indianapolis Colts win 10 games this year. Although, without Peyton Manning, I don’t think that I’d have any worries about brushing up on my estate planning from law school.

     And now, pic o’ day. Like a good ole yearbook/reunion picture. The hard life of rock and roll. 

 

A March Madness Trademark

      Shakespeare said,  “love is merely a madness, and, I tell you, deserves as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do.”

     I didn’t remember this exact quote but part of it came to mind when I read that the NCAA has now trademarked the term “March Madness”,  for its annual college basketball tournament, to the championship.

     A few years back, I remember going to a TV station to cut local spots that were to air during the Sunday afternoon, leading up to the Super Bowl. They immediately told me, in almost hushed tones, that I couldn’t use the term “Super Bowl” because it had been trademarked.

     Instead, I had to refer to “The Big Game” or “Sunday’s Pro Football Championship”.  I admittedly just didn’t get it. Instead of those quotes, I just wanted to say, “what in the world”.     Now that I see the trademark of “March Madness”, it makes me look at what it might mean. 

     There was a sports marketing company named Intersport, who had the original foresight to trademark the name. Last October, the NCAA paid Intersport a sum of 17.2 Million dollars for sole ownership of the trademark. Yep, you read that correctly.

     It just shows how big the money is in marketing, when it comes to sports. Plus, when the NCAA argues against students getting nothing but scholarships for playing, at least they can’t say that their argument is based in any financial logic.

     The NCAA looks at this purchase as an investment. To them, they will now collect royalties for the use of “”March Madness”. If someone is advertising the “March Madness slam dunk competition” or “The March Madness Video game”, they better get ready to get the check in the mail.

     This blog makes you want to put your thinking cap on. Instead of working harder, it’s a reminder that we need to just work smarter. How about sending me an idea that we can trademark and then sell. Maybe something like “Let’s Google that” or “Can you go Xerox this blog for me”. What ….. No, we’re too late?

     Well, I guess time will tell whether the NCAA is filled with men like those described by Shakespeare; Or,  are they sly like a fox. (hey?… no, guess that’s taken already) or strong like an ox. I could just keep em’ coming.

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