Motivation Monday: MLK Day—The Essence of Leadership

Happy Monday again to everybody and more importantly, Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to everyone. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the most iconic leaders of the 20th Century and one of the greatest in American history. He set a great example for others to follow, led in a way that is second to none, and literally lived and died for his true passion in life. His leadership abilities were second to none and he left the impact and legacy of a lifetime—and one that I hope and pray holds up as time progresses.

On this Motivation Monday, I would like to write a special piece on the several lessons that MLK taught and lived. Not to mention—since this is a sports law blog—the movement of the National Basketball Association in honoring MLK through jerseys, starting line-ups, and so-forth, which is a great and cool idea—especially in Memphis with the Grizzlies.

Anyways, back to the Motivation Monday Post. Of all the lessons I like to think I learned from studying MLK, there is one in particular that stuck out to me. He led and lived his life with the true essence of leadership—servanthood. In order to truly be a good leader and positive influence on those around you, you must learn to serve your fellow man or woman. This is the true essence and heart of leadership. Being a servant brings you respect and breeds others to want to do the same. This type of leadership that was demonstrated by Dr. Martin Luther King is special—mainly because not everyone is willing to do it. A leader needs a servant’s heart, and MLK definitely served the people around him with a full heart.

Not only did MLK have a servant’s heart, but he served others out of love for his fellow man. His leadership wasn’t motivated by self-gain or self-promotion; rather, his influence as a leader was dependent upon his genuine depth of concern for others.

With that said, how is it relevant to a sports law/career blog? Well, I truly believe that if you want to be a success and have the ability to influence people in a way that will motivate change and allow for prosperity, you need to have leadership abilities and values much like those of Dr. King. He was a leader, not a boss. He served and fought for his cause with a passion that was unmatched and did so with a positive attitude right alongside the “common man.” He was not simply telling others to do things for him; he went out and did the work himself. He did what he loved to do—which was to strive to unite those around him in a time of great division and bring about equality.

This lesson can be used in your pursuit of a career and in your life. It is not simply for self-gain; rather, it is to have great character which reflects your personal values. Character goes a long way when it comes to your pursuit of a career. Your character is what allows you to make it through the tough times and to continue to fight forward until you have reached your goals and aspirations. It is also your character that will show through to employers and those that you encounter as you go along. If you have a servant’s heart and genuine concern for others, it will shine like a bright light and have a much more positive effect on your aspirations and on those around you.

With all of that said, be willing to serve and to have a genuine concern for others. This is a contagious characteristic to have and it reflects the best of your values.

Finally, to finish this post, there are some things I cannot say well enough on my own and it is simply better to see the actual words of MLK in order to be motivated. So below, I have listed some of my favorite MLK quotes. I hope that they inspire and motivate. Happy Motivation Monday and Happy MLK Day!

Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

And one more—just because it is so iconic and takes place in the city where I am living—Memphis, Tennessee—the “Mountaintop Speech.” This is a true reflection of MLK’s character and is almost eerie, but it shows the passion, drive, and determination with which he lived his life. It also shows how far he was willing to go and how much he was willing to sacrifice to accomplish his dreams. Video is below:

 

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

–Dale Hutcherson

Join Your Law School’s Sports and Entertainment Law Society or Found It Yourself

One of the coolest and more beneficial things I have stumbled upon since being in law school is the idea of a Sports Law/Sports and Entertainment Law Society.

For anyone that is in the same boat as me—i.e. looking to have a career in sports as an attorney—the Sports and Entertainment Law Society at your respective law school (or undergrad if applicable) is a good start as far as putting yourself out there and trying to discover more about the field.

Through this organization, networking opportunities that would not otherwise be available become available. You’re able to meet experts in the field that can provide advice and interesting stories on their experiences in their work as an attorney in the sports industry. On top of that, you are getting the opportunity to work with likeminded people that are in the same position as you and who also love sports.

Many law schools have these types of organizations so it is as simple as going to an introductory meeting and joining through signing up and possibly paying dues. Once you sign up, continue building up the program and carrying on what is hopefully an already successful and worthwhile organization.

For those of you who do not have a Sports Law/Sports & Entertainment Law Society, this presents an even BIGGER opportunity. If it’s not there, nothing should stop you from forming it yourself—if you are passionate about it. This presents—not only a great resume booster—a great opportunity to build something special and fun for not only yourself, but others in the law school who may not have thought of the idea of a sports law society. It also provides a path for those that come along after you have left that will undoubtedly be interested in the sports law industry. Whatever the case, joining will allow for opportunities that lead to careers, contacts, or more.

As for my experience, I had the chance to be a co-founder of the Sports & Entertainment Law Society at the University of Memphis Law School.

A few months ago, one of my friends at law school approached me and a few others with the idea of founding/re-starting the Sports & Entertainment Law Society at our law school because he knew that he and I have similar aspirations. I immediately was interested and could already see the benefits of starting something as great as a society that combines the law with sports—especially with friends in my law school class that shared the same interests.

Before I knew it, we had been granted allowance to re-start the society and we drafted our constitution for approval (it was approved). After that, we advertised the society and tried to get as many people to join as possible. Much to our astonishment, there was a great amount of interest among the law school student body, which was a pleasant surprise because we knew we now had an opportunity to build something worthwhile.

So far, we have had a very successful beginning to the Sports & Entertainment Law Society. Not only have we attracted many other law students to want to join, but we have put together programs with speakers who have taken their law degree and have had an accomplished career in the sports world.

Since we are in Memphis, we have tried to utilize all local connections in an effort to build a strong home base and connections within the city. Guests have included Zach Kleiman (General Counsel for the Memphis Grizzlies), Lionel Hollins (former head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies), and Greg Gaston (former founder of the Sports & Entertainment Law Society at Memphis Law/Manager of Business Development for the Memphis Tigers Sports Properties with Learfield Sports). All have provided valuable insight into the sports law world and into different professions post-law school. We already have several more guest speakers scheduled and know that the society will only grow bigger and better in the years to come.

This was not accomplished without some help, however. We also had the opportunity to reach out to friends at different law schools that had already established Sports Law Societies and they provided valuable insight into starting it up (many of the friends we asked came from our connections at the Oregon Law School Summer Sports Law Institute).

With that said, I highly encourage all readers—if interested—to join your law school’s Sports Law Society or start your own. It is well worth the time and can only help you grow in your potential. If you are looking to start your own, I also welcome any questions on how we went about starting ours up at Memphis Law. My contact information is in the “Contact” tab and I am glad to answer any and all questions.

As always, thank you for reading and God Bless!

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” — Zig Ziglar

—Dale Hutcherson

 

Motivation Monday: Never Peak

I hope everyone had a great holiday season and is having an even better start to a new year (for law students, I hope you survived finals). With the new year in the works, I’d like to begin by making some improvements and more frequent posts on TASL Blog. I have had many ideas over the past month since finals have ended and really want to be able to make some big and positive changes in many facets of life.

With that said, one of the new ideas I have for the blog is “Motivation Monday” where I would like to write an article that encourages, inspires, and provides some motivation for those pursuing their professional dreams—particularly those that want to pursue something in sports law. And what better forum to do this? A blog about sports and law should definitely have some sort of motivational aspect given that we as a society associate sports with motivation, determination, and a means to learn something greater than a game and apply the lessons in our daily lives.

In today’s Motivation Monday post (hopefully the first of many), I want to touch on what I believe is a very important lesson to remember in our daily lives and in our constant pursuit of a dream—the concept of never peaking. And what does that mean to “never peak?” Well, the best way to explain it came to me this past December as I was watching my youngest brother and my high school alma mater play for a state championship—and win—in football.

As I was sitting in the stands and watching a great team full of really solid athletes play for a state championship I thought, “Wow, what an experience and chance of a lifetime. They’ll never get to experience something like this again. It doesn’t get much better than that.” But then I thought back to my playing days… I had a great experience.  I had a pretty good career. Heck, I was even named first team all-state and went on to play four years of college ball. But looking back—though they were great experiences and nothing is wrong with appreciating it—none of it really matters anymore. Outside of the relationships built and the friendships made, none of the records matter. None of the accolades amounted to anything much. Honestly, I think I was the first quarterback (or one of the firsts) from my high school to ever be named to the all-state team and literally no one has mentioned it to me since I received the honor. This is not to say I want them to or that I am asking for praise—I’m not. I simply say this to prove the point that all of that really doesn’t matter in the big scheme of life. The lessons that are taken away from the games are what matter.

The same can be said for anything else as well. Valedictorian of your class? Great. Chess Champion? Awesome. State championship in football? Love it. But, all those things really should do is help to set a higher expectation for something greater later. This is not to say that those types of accomplishments are completely meaningless and that you shouldn’t be proud of your accomplishments—you should. Nothing is wrong with taking pride in accomplishing something that you have worked so hard for; however, use it as a stepping stone to continuously succeed and move on to bigger and better things—plus it’s also a good thing to leave a legacy behind that will be continued by others (different article for a different time).

So, with that said, I continued thinking about what I wanted my little brother and his friends to get out of their experience—plus I started thinking about my life and how I want to approach my dreams and the process of attaining my goals.

In my research of professionals that are in the type roles that I aspire to be in one day, I have come across some great people who offer great advice for not only career stuff, but for life as well. For those of you not familiar with a sports law pro by the name of Andrew Brandt (ESPN Legal Analyst; interviewed him earlier), he has a hashtag in his twitter bio that says, “#NeverPeak.”

To me, never peaking is like a daily life motto each of us should live by in this fast-paced world where succeeding requires constant work. You almost have to approach dream chasing and goal setting with a “what have you done for me lately” mentality. This allows you to not dwell on past accomplishments, but to move forward in life so that you can continuously succeed at new things and continue to accomplish new goals. Sure, celebrate the victories; but continue to approach the next day as if there is a whole new agenda—I truly believe this is what many successful people do in their careers.

For my little brother and his teammates; for myself and others pursuing a career: let today be a new day with new goals to get you to a better end goal. Do not dwell on past accomplishments—appreciate them and take lessons away from them as you move forward. Never Peak and move on to the next phase so that you will be a constant success in whatever it is you want to do.

To finish this Motivation Monday up, I encourage myself and others that are willing to read into these posts to Never Peak. Constantly strive for something greater than what you’ve already accomplished. It is a good thing to have a constant hunger to be more than you were the day before and to constantly improve. It will allow you to have a higher ceiling in all that you do and will provide a constant ambition so that you may accomplish your goals, dreams, and aspirations.

I hope that this post has provided some sort of motivation—please give feedback—as I think this Motivation Monday thing will be a good theme throughout the year. There will be more to come including these types of posts, interviews from sports law professionals, and other experiences I am facing in my pursuit of a career as the year comes along.

Again, all feedback is appreciated and I hope you feel like sharing this post as many could use words of encouragement and motivation on any given day—especially Mondays.

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

#NeverPeak” – Andrew Brandt

—Dale Hutcherson

Election Day Post: Something We Can All Agree On… Unity in a Time of Division

Election Day—one of the most celebrated days in the United States where all can get together simply so they can divide on their opinions on who is a better person to lead the free world. While this day is supposed to provide some sort of unity among the people in that everyone has a voice in choosing the next President of the United States, it seems to be bringing more division among the masses now than it ever has. Why? Well this can be attributed to several different reasons—the polarity of the two major parties, the two main candidates starkly contrasting from each other, etc.

Whatever the case, this is not a blog post for politics, nor is it a post endorsing one candidate or another. Rather, I would like to provide a form of unity in this time of great divide among the people.

While each supporter of the parties would just assume the other candidate fall off the face of the Earth—thus is the nature of politics, business, etc.—the sports world works a lot differently.

Though sports create a sort of division among people and supporters of different teams, they also unify communities in a way that is so much different from all other forms of entertainment and things that we care about in this life.

For example—in business, Pepsi would just assume Coke be destroyed in order for their business to truly progress and take in all the profits from consumers. The two companies are not dependent on one another.

The same goes for the Presidential election. Democrats wouldn’t mind seeing Trump drop out right now and the same goes for the Republicans and their feelings towards Clinton—I know I am putting that lightly for both sides (haha).

With sports, however, despite the division among fans and the intense rivalries, the two sides are interdependent on one another. You cannot have the same sports experience without having that other side that you may intensely oppose so much on gameday. Also, despite your political affiliation—Democrat, Republican, Green Party, Libertarian—all can come together to support their favorite team on any given gameday.

There is a certain amount of respect among teams and fans that fosters an environment of intense battle when it comes to the playing field while at the same time knowing that without the opposing side, none of the sports we love would be possible without both teams. Thus is the nature of sport—two sides battling it out with a mutual respect and knowledge that one cannot be without the other.

In a country full of division (and in some cases hate), there is (at least) one thing we can all agree on and unify through—sports. So remember—no matter the outcome on this Election Day—there is a way for this divided country to become whole.

Mutually respect one another, understand that the sun will come up again tomorrow (no matter who wins the election), and realize that interdependence is okay in some situations. Lord knows we need some sort of unification now more than ever.

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

“Sports can create hope where once there was only despair.” – Nelson Mandela

– Dale Hutcherson

Interview with Family Man/Sports Executive/Keynote Speaker/Humanitarian David Meltzer

As I go further into my journey to find a place in the sports law world, I have had the opportunity to network and research many great sports law professionals. This has led to finding interesting and role model-type people to model my journey after. One of those people that is extremely influential on aspiring attorneys and business professionals is David Meltzer.

David Meltzer is as versatile a person as you will find in the sports industry. He is the CEO of Sports 1 Marketing, a Forbes “Top 10 Keynote Speaker,” a national best-selling author, humanitarian, life coach, and most importantly, a family man.

Meltzer, like several successful people in the sports law world, received his Juris Doctorate Degree from Tulane University Law School. He also has over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and executive in the legal, technology, sports, and entertainment fields.

As far as Sports 1 Marketing goes, he is the co-founder along with Hall of Fame Quarterback Warren Moon. With Sports 1 Marketing, Meltzer has grown his clients’ marketing and endorsement potential and represented clients in many different sports. Some of his projects with Sports 1 Marketing have included the NFL Player’s Association, Pro Football Hall of Fame, Super Bowl, and The Master’s, just to name a few.

David began his career in sports with Leigh Steinberg Sports & Entertainment (Jerry Maguire is based off of Steinberg) where he helped in negotiating over $2 billion in sports and entertainment contracts. Meltzer is also a media personality with many national publications including Forbes and ESPN. As far as his humanitarian work, David was recognized for his efforts and honored at Variety’s Unite4:Humanity event as the Sports Humanitarian of the year.

Outside of the sports industry, he is known as a successful entrepreneur, best-selling author (books include: Connected to Goodness, and Compassionate Capitalism: A Journey to the Soul of Business), and life coach. On top of all of that, David is a family man with his wife and four children.

A friend I met at Oregon’s Sports Law Institute told me all about David, and I knew I had to secure an interview with him for The Aspiring Sports Lawyer Blog. I hope you enjoy and can take away valuable, meaningful, and motivational advice from one of the leading executives in the industry:

 

TASL: Could you explain your journey as far as getting into the sports law world and how you went about working your way into your profession?

Meltzer: While I was in undergrad at Occidental College, I visited my brother in med-school at UCLA. I quickly realized I did not want to be a doctor so I went to Law School instead. I got my law degree from Tulane University and then got a job in the technology industry. Westlaw, the newest division (at the time) of West Publishing, the world’s largest legal publisher, had an opportunity for me to sell legal resources on the Internet. I was with Westlaw for seven years where I became the Sales Director before leaving for Everypath, eventually meeting the CEO of Samsung. I was hired as the CEO of Samsung’s PC-E Phone Cyberbank Division, which would eventually become the world’s first smartphone. I chose to semi-retire and leave the company to become an entrepreneur at only 35 years old. I was rich and became a venture capitalist, creating my own businesses, buying tons of real estate, and invested in new businesses. I eventually went bankrupt and was forced to start over. I was connected with Leigh Steinberg to complete a simple one-time contract but ended up getting hired as the COO of his famous sports agency. I had always secretly dreamed of being a sports agent so this was my chance to at least get close to living that dream. My first day, I stepped into my new office that was between Leigh and Hall of Fame Quarterback, Warren Moon. Warren and I ran Leigh’s business for him as he was in and out of rehab throughout my time there. I was eventually promoted to CEO and ran the whole operation. Warren and I knew we were enabling Leigh and needed to get out which is when we left and started Sports 1 Marketing in 2010. We were profitable within the first month of business and have only continued to grow until today.

TASL: You are clearly well-rounded in many different areas including the business, legal, marketing, and public speaking/writing realms. How has getting your J.D. helped you in accomplishing all that you have done?

Meltzer: Getting my J.D. forced me to hone my critical thinking skills, which are critical to success in any arena. Being able to understand and effectively communicate different frames or viewpoints can help you in any industry. I also think my understanding of contracts has been very beneficial to the businesses that I operate.

TASL: What advice would you give aspiring sports lawyers that are in law school now and looking to find a job in the sports law world? What should they be doing now and what steps would you recommend they take both immediately and in the future?

Meltzer: I like to have people take a good look at their friends and associates, because your friends are your future. If you want to be a sports lawyer, start associating with individuals who are (or have been) sports lawyers. Find out where they hang out or what charities they work with, and then seek them out. Don’t be afraid to ask someone if they will mentor you and share the knowledge that they have gained throughout their careers. They have already paid a “dummy tax” and you can avoid it yourself by being more interested than interesting.

TASL: Given your extensive knowledge in the field, what do you think employers are looking for most in a candidate for an internship/externship/entry-level position with a professional sports team or sports agency?

Meltzer: It is a pretty hackneyed piece of advice to tell people “make sure you stand out from the crowd”, but I think it is really applicable to the sports industry. Especially true in entry-level positions in sports organizations, you are going to need to be recognized as someone who brings unique assets to the team if you want to advance. At Sports 1 Marketing, we are looking for employees who stand out in four specific areas. Those are gratitude, empathy, accountability, and effective communication. If you can use the principles that set you apart to get your foot in the door and stay there, you are going to be ahead of the game.

TASL: It is clear that you are a professional that wears many hats—especially considering you are a keynote speaker, life coach, CEO, humanitarian—what is your favorite position that you hold and why?

Meltzer: I’m going to cheat and say two related positions: teacher and student. I really relish having a bunch of young people in the office with whom I can share the situational knowledge I’ve gained throughout my career. I say a prayer every day asking for ten people to be put in front of me to help and I think teaching is a big part of that. The flip side of the coin, of course, is being a student. I advise everyone to have at least three mentors to learn from and I’ve got some great ones, including Hall of Famers, best-selling authors, and business tycoons. I try as much as I possibly can from people, especially if they have some mastered some skill that I need help with.

TASL: Last question, if you could give one piece of advice to those of us that aspire to find a career in sports law and make an impact in sports law like you have, what would it be?

Meltzer: Get inspired. If you really want to do something, being inspired to accomplish it and remaining connected to that inspiration can and will make a difference.

 

To read more about David Meltzer and his many positions and accomplishments, check out his bio here: http://www.meltzermission.com/david-meltzer-bio/. Also, give him a follow on twitter for motivation, advice, and his take on sports and the sports industry @davidmeltzer.

Sports 1 Marketing website: https://sports1marketing.com.

Also, here is a good video on YouTube with David Meltzer that will provide some motivation and insight into his perspective and philosophy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YgyBfBfqHo.

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

“Get inspired. If you really want to do something, being inspired to accomplish it and remaining connected to that inspiration can and will make a difference.” – David Meltzer

– Interview and Information compiled by Dale Hutcherson; Interview coordinated by Bradley Hartman; Questions answered by David Meltzer.

NCAA Student-Athletes—Pay for Play?

As football season is getting into full swing, I thought it would be appropriate to write a piece about one of the most hot-button issues in sports—whether or not NCAA athletes should be compensated for their participation in sports.

I am writing not to share my opinion on the matter, but rather to promote a discussion so that others can share their opinions on the matter—so please feel free to leave comments or post your response on social media.

Both sides of the argument bring up great points. On one side, there are supporters of what seems to be the NCAA’s stance on the matter, which is that athletes should not be compensated for their play and that because this group is labeled “student-athletes” and to preserve the sanctity of amateurism, a scholarship to go to the respective school should be adequate “compensation”. On the other side of the spectrum are those that believe student-athletes are being exploited to generate revenue for their schools/NCAA without being adequately compensated for all the money that is brought to the institution due to their play.

It seems—from the former’s perspective—that student-athletes are “pampered royalty” and that there is no need to compensate such a privileged group that already seemingly have so many advantages. It is definitely true that student-athletes on most major Division I campuses enjoy the best facilities, free academic tutoring (debatable if this is really utilized in some cases), and, on occasion, extra benefits from university athletic donors (which is obviously an NCAA violation). It is evidenced in a few Public Infractions Appeals Committee Reports that student-athletes receive benefits like money, automobiles, free housing, and air travel.

On top of that, student-athletes have the opportunity to play in front of thousands of fans in stadiums each week—depending on the sport—and are glorified in a way that makes them seem like royalty. The athletes are also on television sets across the country in front of millions, which brings more fame. In some other cases, it is clear that student-athletes have the option of not doing their academic work, but rather, have tutors that do the student-athletes’ work for them. These are the arguments for why they are considered “pampered royalty” and why student-athletes should not receive compensation for playing their sport; however, the issue with this view is that many do not truly see the reality of the situation of most student-athletes and their academic and scheduling conflicts and the exploitation that goes on behind the scenes.

As to the argument for the side that believes student-athletes should be compensated, it seems that these student-athletes are “exploited victims” and “indentured servants” for their universities. According to 2013-14 data gathered by Daniel Rascher (a sports economists/expert witness who I will interview later so that his perspective and advice on sports law is available to the readers), Division I sports generate over eleven billion dollars in revenue per year—and that number is growing each year. It has been a continuous issue with student-athletes being seen as pampered royalty because of their facilities, the fame that comes along with playing sports, and the other benefits received by student-athletes that are not received by the “regular” student body. However, given the amount of money that these student-athletes generate for their universities, these “extra benefits” do not really amount to much—especially considering they are not allowed to receive anything more than a scholarship for school (which the “school” part is arguably not present in several cases due to the high demand and rigor of a Division I athlete’s schedule) and they are bringing in millions of dollars for their school each year.

In a recent case, O’Bannon v. NCAA, there is the issue of student-athletes having their name, image, and likeness being used in a major video game without the student-athlete signing off on this use or the student-athlete receiving any compensation. This, of course, is a major argument for the side that favors players being compensated. While the NCAA and video game company make millions, the athletes in the video game were being profited on without their permission (sorry to the NCAA gamers on Xbox and PS4—this is why there isn’t a video game out right now). Some argue that these athletes should be “happy” just having the privilege of being on a major video game while the other side argues that this is yet another form of exploiting these student-athletes without allowing them to receive any compensation or protection.

Whatever the case, I am not sure whether this debate will be settled any time soon. As I said before, there are credible arguments for both sides and there are definitely arguments for either side that I did not mention in the article—but hey, that’s why I want you all to share your opinion on the matter and bring new perspectives to the forefront.

I hope this article promotes some type of debate and sharing of ideas & information and I look forward to reading the responses. Be on the lookout for more articles, advice, and interviews that deal with sports and sports law topics very soon.

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

“You go to Chapel Hill and try to go to a Carolina-Duke game, good luck trying to find a ticket. It’s nationally televised. There’s so much money that goes behind just one basketball game. I do think the players from both sides should definitely see some type of benefit.”

Marvin Williams, former UNC-Chapel Hill basketball player

“I don’t think athletes are being exploited. I think there’s a symbiotic relationship there. Without the university platform for them to compete, there is no exposure for them. None. So that experience alone and that opportunity creates the platform for them, for visibility. I just think the money issue has clouded what the real purpose is, regardless of where the money is coming from and how much is coming in. I want the whole story to be told about the value of an education and put dollars to that.”

Judy Rose, athletics director, Charlotte 49ers

 
Read more quotes here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/college/mens-basketball/article9201149.html#storylink=cpy

– Dale Hutcherson

Interview with ESPN Legal Analyst/Law Professor/Sports Attorney Andrew Brandt

During my time in Oregon at the Law School Summer Sports Institute, I had the opportunity to listen to a panel which included ESPN Business and Legal Analyst, Andrew Brandt. He told a little bit about his background and journey in sports law and provided commentary on sports law topics including gaming in sports (i.e. fantasy sports) and the relationship between teams and agents in the NFL.

Andrew Brandt is the legal and business analyst for ESPN and is a law professor at Villanova Law School where he is the director of the Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law. With ESPN Brandt analyzes business, legal, and policy sports issues on popular shows such as “Sportscenter”, “NFL Live”, and “Outside the Lines”. He is also a featured columnist for The MMQB (Sports Illustrated), ESPN.com, Forbes, The Huffington Post, and more.

Before becoming a legal analyst for ESPN, Brandt spent nine years with the Green Bay Packers as their Vice President where he negotiated player contracts and managed the team’s salary cap. Early on, Brandt worked for ProServ, Inc. and Woolf Associates representing athletes such as Michael Jordan, Matt Hasselbeck, Adam Vinatieri, and Ricky Williams to name a few. He also served as the youngest general manager in sports at the time (1991) for the NFL World League’s Barcelona Dragons.

After hearing him speak on the panel, I knew I had to secure an interview with him for The Aspiring Sports Lawyer (“TASL”) blog and he graciously agreed. Below is the interview:

TASL: Will you give a little background as to your path and the way in which you found a career in sports as an attorney and how you ended up becoming a legal/business analyst for ESPN?

Brandt: I went to Stanford and then back to Washington DC where I am from and Georgetown Law School.  While in law school I was able to intern for ProServ, a sports management firm.  I started there in tennis but soon moved to Team Sports representation, working with NBA superagent David Falk.  There I was able to develop a football practice, which led to me switching from the labor (players) side to the management (teams, owners) side twice: first to become the general manager of the Barcelona Dragons of the NFL’s World League, and later, after another time as an agent, to the GB Packers as vice president and general counsel.  Since leaving the Packers, I wanted to do something different with my career and have tried to fill a void as an experienced and informed media analyst on legal and business issues in sports, as well as bringing a practical model on sports study to academia.

TASL: What advice would you give aspiring sports lawyers that are in law school now and looking to find a job in the sports law world? What should they be doing now and what steps would you recommend they take both immediately and in the future?

Brandt: Find a passion in the sports industry, something you would do with no regard for salary or time commitment.  Be able to communicate well and write something every day.  When talking to a future employer, make sure the passion comes out and always provide a writing sample of something you are proud of.

TASL: You have worked in the NFL on both sides of contract negotiations and bring a unique perspective to those that are wanting to get into sports law either on the agent side or the side of the team. What is the most significant difference between the two jobs? Also, how did you manage to balance the interests of the team and the player and come to an agreement that pleased both sides?

Brandt: An agent is like a fantasy football owner: rooting for certain players to do well, regardless of team affiliation.  A team executive has to worry about precedent with every deal, knowing all players (and agents) are watching.  Being a former agent was invaluable experience to working for a team, as I knew how the other side thought.  The key to negotiations is to put yourself in the other side’s shoes.

TASL: Now for some sports law questions—Could you comment on the relationship between players and the teams they play for and also the relationship between the NFLPA and the league office/commissioner?

Brandt: Obviously this relationship has been marked by a lack of trust, since the time even before the 2011 CBA.  Leadership does not appear to trust or even like each other, and NFLPA leadership was and is intent on not being “chummy” as was the previous leader with NFL Commissioner Tagliabue.  This instills some lack of trust between players and teams, although that is more of an individual thing, often influenced by that player’s contract negotiation and business dealings with the team.

TASL: Do you see the NFL moving away from or reforming their Collective Bargaining Agreement where the commissioner is the “judge, jury, and executioner” of all disciplinary functions?

Brandt: The NFL just won two Circuit Court decisions affirming that power (Brady, Peterson) so has the leverage in this area.  If the NFLPA chooses to make it an issue in the next round of bargaining, they will obviously have to give up something, and I am not sure what there is to give.  This area gets a lot of attention and a lot of legal resources but not really a high priority for either side.

TASL: Last question, if you could give one piece of advice to those of us that aspire to find a career in sports law and have an impact in sports law like you have had, what would it be?

Brandt: Find a way to separate yourself from the pack, whether through developing a special skill, coming up with a new way of looking at things, being able to communicate or write better than others, or something else.  Realizing so many people want to get into sports, see if there is a path for you that is not the one everyone else is looking at.  Keep trying to meet people with invading their time.  And, of course, be yourself and let your light shine.

To read more about Andrew Brandt and his take on issues in the sports world and his legal analysis, follow him on twitter @AndrewBrandt.

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

“Realizing so many people want to get into sports, see if there is a path for you that is not the one everyone else is looking at.” – Andrew Brandt

– Interview and Information compiled by Dale Hutcherson; questions answered by Andrew Brandt.