Interview with Sports Law Pro/Writer/Professor Daniel Werly

There are many useful and interesting resources in the sports law world for keeping up with up-to-date news stories in sports law. One of the most valuable and versatile blogs I have come across is The White Bronco. It is useful and provides a wide range of information from articles concerning current sports law topics to legal documents from cases to a section that lists career opportunities in the sports law field. After reading through the blog regularly, I knew I had to find out more about the man behind the website—Daniel Werly—and I was not surprised to find out just how accomplished he is.

Werly, a Georgetown Law graduate, is a seasoned sports law pro who has significant experience in complex civil litigation with top rated sports practice groups. He also has experience working with professional teams, athletes, universities, and leagues. Outside of managing The White Bronco, Dan is now a partner at the Nashville based sports law firm Sievert Werly and contributes to several national media outlets. Dan has also been quoted as a sports law expert in media publications including USA Today, ESPN, Bleacher Report, Fox Business, among others. Additionally, he co-hosts his own sports law podcast, Conduct Detrimental, which can be found on The White Bronco and iTunes (Link: http://thewhitebronco.com/conduct-detrimental-podcast/).

On top of his work as a sports law professional and skilled writer, Werly also involves himself with the academic side of the law by teaching Arbitration at Charleston School of Law. The most recent of his accomplishments includes being named the Vice Chair of the American Bar Association’s Sports Division.

I knew Mr. Werly would be a great resource for advice for those of us looking to have a career in the sports industry. After visiting his website and reading much of his work, I had to ask him to do an interview for The Aspiring Sports Lawyer (“TASL”) and he graciously agreed. Below is the interview:

 

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

Werly:  Like many, my journey into sports law – particularly my current position – is somewhat roundabout and unique.  I always knew that I wanted to work in sports but the law side did not come into the equation until I took a few business legal classes while in undergrad at Miami University, which put the idea of law school into my head for the first time.

Fast forward a couple years to my 2L year Georgetown for law school where I was fortunate to receive an offer to be a summer associate at the law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath in Chicago.  I ended up working at DBR that summer and post graduation.  I knew I wanted to work in sports, but the idea of locking up a large law firm position – even where there wasn’t much sports work available — was too hard to pass up at the time.  Even though I was not practicing sports at DBR, I was constantly writing and keeping up with the sports law community.  The desire to work in sports never subsided and I kept my eyes open for opportunities in the sports law world.

Fortunately, a couple of years later I received an opportunity to join the Chicago office of Foley & Lardner LLP, a law firm with an established and high profile sports practice.  While at Foley I practiced part time as a commercial litigator and part time in the sports law group.

When my wife was offered her dream job as a psychologist in the US Army, which caused us to move to Augusta, GA, I tried to do the most with the opportunity, and brief hiatus from practicing law, to launch a sports legal website and teach.  When we relocated to Nashville a few months ago, my friend and fellow sports lawyer Justin Sievert and I opened Sievert Werly LLC, a law firm dedicated to working with clients in the sports industry.

 

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?

Werly: Everyone has a different path into sports law.  I am sure everyone reading this is well aware, but it is an extremely competitive field and not easy to break into — especially right out of law school.  That said, I believe that those who are really passionate about practicing at the intersection of sports and law almost always end up there (be patient!!).

I think there are two big aspects of getting a sports law job that students and young lawyers should focus on.  First, master your craft and always do great work.  This might mean taking a job outside of sports to get the experience needed for the next step.  Make sure that you are doing nothing short of your best, even if is not your dream job.  Think of it as training for that sports job.  Also, you never know who is watching.

Second, network network network.  Get to know sports lawyers in your area and go to the big sports law conferences (I would recommend the Sports Lawyers Association annual conference in May and the ABA Entertainment and Sports Annual meeting in October).  Also, research how to network well: have a plan at events/conferences, keep in touch with people who you have reached out to, and see if there are ways for you to add value – and demonstrate your proficiencies – for those in the industry that you connect with.

 

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 sports group at a civil litigation firm, professional sports team, or sports agency?

Werly: I think the biggest things employers are looking for are a passion for the industry and a demonstrated competency for the work to be done.

Look at your resume and ask yourself: does this demonstrate that I am passionate about the legal issues impacting the organization I am applying to and am going to do everything in my power to master those issues?  If not, find ways to change that.

Regarding demonstrated competency, the bottom line is that organizations have a bottom line.  They want someone who can come in and make their jobs easier.  Make your boss’s job easier and he/she will love you for it.

 

TASL: You manage The White Bronco and follow virtually every case/story happening in sports law, write for numerous media publications, work at a law firm, and even teach a law class. Most recently you were named the Vice Chair of the ABA’s sports division. How do you manage to find time for all of this? And what is your favorite position you hold and why?

Werly: Honestly, I love what I do which makes it a lot easier.  When things pick up with one role, sometimes I have less time to dedicate to another so it is a balance.  I am not teaching right now which frees up a good chunk of time!

 

TASL: What motivated you to start The White Bronco? What do you see as the blog’s purpose within the sports law community?

Werly:  It is actually my second stab at a sports legal blog.  Sometime around 2012 I started a website called SportsLaw101, which was part of a larger sports network.  I had to eventually give that up after I did not have the necessary time to dedicate to it.

However, the idea for a sports legal website never really left my head and I found myself always brainstorming how I could make something better.  When I left Foley in late 2015 for my wife’s job, I had a lot more free time for web design and content for the site.

I would like to think that the White Bronco holds a unique place in the sports law world.  There are many other fantastic sports legal blogs, but we have a few features – such as PDFs of case documents/contracts and job boards – that are unique to the space.  I have always tried to have fun with it (hence the name) while still providing useful legal commentary.

 

TASL: What do you see as the most useful class or classes that aspiring sports attorneys can take while in law school to prepare for a career in the sports industry? Any other tips for preparing for that type of career?

Werly: I always recommend any practical classes such as contract drafting or trial advocacy.  Even if those classes are not dedicated to sports, the soft skills will help you more than another traditional case law based class.  I would also highly recommend trying to gain as many real world experiences via internships or clinics as possible.  I am less of a fan of spending your time working on a law journal but some employers do value that experience.

 

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?

Werly: I mentioned a few earlier.  Here is one more: Keep up with theaspiringsportslawyer.com!

 

To read more about Daniel Werly and his take on sports law issues, follow him on Twitter (@WerlySportsLaw) or follow The White Bronco (@TheWhiteBronc). Also, be sure to check out his sports law website/blog, The White Bronco à Link: http://thewhitebronco.com.

I hope this interview provides good advice and insight into the sports law industry. All feedback is appreciated and please give it a share!

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

– Interview and Information compiled by Dale Hutcherson; questions answered by Daniel Werly.

 

Event Review: University of Oregon Sports & Entertainment Conference

One of the missions of this blog is to be a resource for those who aspire to find a career in the sports law industry. As part of that mission, it is important to be well-informed of networking events, events where you can gain more knowledge in the field that you aspire to be in, or competitive experiences that will help you learn more about your craft.

With that said, below is a great event review of the University of Oregon Law School’s Sports & Entertainment Conference written by Garrett Robinson (contributing writer to TASL) who is a 2L at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, California. He had the opportunity to attend the conference a couple weeks ago in Eugene, Oregon, and he had some great things to say about his experience. Check out his review of the event below:

 

“I would much rather hire someone who I know and like rather than someone who has the greatest GPA ever, who I don’t know”.

These are the words that one of my mentors told me as I started my first year of law school. The very essence of this quote is the idea that networking is pivotal in beginning a career in law. Therefore, the various conferences involving your area of interest are important to attend.

I just recently attended the first annual Oregon Sports & Entertainment Conference at the University of Oregon in Eugene. I had heard about this 2-day conference from a friend of mine whom I met at the University of Oregon Summer Sports Law Institute last summer. The Oregon Sports & Entertainment Conference covered a plethora of topics including music & entertainment, fantasy sports & gambling, agency & licensing, compliance, international sports, general counsel work, and sports & event management. Let me delve into what I gained from attending this conference.

The first panel involved music & entertainment. Now I know what you are probably thinking, “I only care about sports. Why do I need/want to listen to these lawyers”. Sports have become an enormous industry where there is now a lot of crossover between it and entertainment. Athletes today want to be more than just a sports star. They also want to be rappers, actors and even take on various business ventures. Therefore, meeting and networking with individuals in these industries is just as important as meeting someone like Leigh Steinberg or any other prominent sports agent.

The next panel was made up of agents and licensing representatives. This was a very interesting panel because we got to see both sides of a typical negotiation; an endorsement company and an agent. One of my favorite individuals in the sports law industry, Paul Loving, spoke in this panel. The insight he provides is real and encouraging. He is very charismatic and very open to hearing new ideas, which leads me to one of the other panelist, Steven Jeffrey. Steven Jeffrey is a former, professional rock-climber. One of the cool things about attending a conference is you learn about other industries and some of the obstacles that they face. In his case, it is the misrecognition of the excitement of watching his sport and how it does not generate a lot of revenue (despite its high risk). However, he is doing a good job at using his expertise and knowledge of the sport in order to break new grounds.

The next day was the longest between the two and it started with a panel focusing on compliance in college sports. These panelists primarily focused on NCAA regulations and the importance of institutional control. It was interesting to hear what the schools do to ensure that they are not lacking institutional control and how the NCCA imposes penalties when a violation occurs due to a lack of control by the school.

The next panel was about international sports. Now to be honest I usually do not have much interest in this topic. However, the Sports Law Society at University of Oregon did an incredible job of compiling a group of speakers who were extremely interesting. These speakers focused on the differences between their “sports clubs” concept versus our “league concept” and how they have a federation that regulates all of the sports in their Latin countries.

They spoke about what it takes to start a firm and even a sports team. Mr. Dave Galas is in the process of bringing a Premier Development Soccer League team (Lane United FC) to Eugene, OR. He discussed some of the challenges and the obstacles that must be overcome. Becky Mendoza brought an inspiring story from an action sports perspective. She initially worked for a renowned agency before she decided to start her own agency where she primarily focuses on obtaining visas for foreign action sports athletes. She had a ton of positive energy. I personally enjoyed speaking with her after her panel and have developed a relationship and another contact as a result.

I think largely most of us hope to become general counsel for a sports company(such as a sports team). The next panel provided us with an insightful look at what it takes to do just that.

They explained that it takes a lot of hard work, experience and, in some cases, a little luck. They also explained the roles of general counsel and how you have to be aware of which “hat” you are wearing. For example, there are some situations where you have to understand business intricacies and how certain decisions may affect the company. Then you must also understand the legal aspects and weigh the risks (if there are any) of their decision. Maya Mendoza-Exstrom also mentioned the importance of understanding what role you are in at what time become attorney-client privilege may be at risk if you are unaware. I also found J. Carlos Kuri to be very interesting as well. He is Vice President and General Counsel of Red Bull. I found him to be interesting because Red Bull is a very dynamic company. Although they are an energy drink company, they invest a lot in marketing and even in sporting events that they themselves put on. Because of how dynamic this company is, J. Carlos Kuri has to wear a lot of “hats” and must have a broad understanding of a variety of areas.

img_4922

The Univeristy of Oregon and its Sports Law Society did a fantastic job at putting this conference on. They have the most beautiful facilities as well as the most inviting students. Anytime I have an opportunity to go to the Univeristy of Oregon I know not to expect anything but great facilities and even more amazing people. The Sports law Society members there are some of the nicest and most well-organized people to put on a great conference such as this. I especially liked the fact that in between panels they scheduled a break so that attendees may speak and network with the panleists. I also want to thank these panelists for making the trip to Eugene, OR and taking the time out of their busy lives to show us what it takes to get to where they are today. Apart from personal gratification, I am sure a huge reason for why they participated was because of their knowingness of how beauitful and accomodating the Univeristy of Oregon is as well as its students. Thank you again and I look forward to attending once again next year to meet some more incredible people.

Below is a list of the Professionals/Speakers that were present:

Music & Entertainment

  • Guy Blake: Partner to Davis Shapiro Lewit Grabel Leven Granderson & Blake, LLP for Entertainment
  • Ian Humphrey: In-House Counsel for Insomniac Events
  • Kevin Mills Partner to Kaye & Mills

Agency & Licensing

  • Paul Loving: Former General Counsel to Nike and Current Managing Shareholder of Consul Group
  • Kyell Thomas: Current Agent of Octagon Entertainment
  • Adam Kelly: Current Associate General Counsel of Columbia Sportswear
  • Steven Jeffrey: Route-Setting Director of Momentum Climbing

Compliance

  • Oliver Luck: Executive Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at the NCAA
  • Gabe Feldman: Director of the Tulane Sports Law Program and Associate Provost for NCCA Compliance
  • Jody Sykes: Senior Associate Athletic Director and Chief Compliance Officer for University of Oregon Athletics
  • AJ Schaufler: Former Compliance Officer at Fresno State University

International Sports

  • Marcos Motta: Partner at Bichara e Motta Advogados
  • Luiz Felipe Guimaraes Santoro: Partner at Santoro Advogados
  • Sergio Ventura Engelburg: Legal Counsel for Sport Club Corinthians Paulista

Sports & Event Management

  • Dave Galas: Founder of Lane United FC
  • Felisa Israel: Founder and Owner of 10 Fold Entertainment
  • Becky Mendoza: Founder of Action Sports Law Group

General Counsel

  • Maya Mendoza-Exstrom: General Counsel for Seattle Sounders FC
  • Douglas Park: General Counsel for Univeristy of Oregon
  • Carlos Kuri: General Counsel for Red Bull
  • Ibrahima Soare: General Counsel for Federation Francaise de Tennis

 

—Garrett Robinson, contributing writer, The Aspiring Sports Lawyer Blog

 

If you have any questions concerning the University of Oregon’s Sports & Entertainment Conference or you would like your law school’s event to be reviewed and featured on TASL, please let us know and we will be glad to help out as best as we can. Please give this a share… Our hope is that these events will flourish once more people become aware of their existence and that aspiring sports lawyers will know of learning opportunities available to them throughout the country.

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

Learning Opportunity: Tulane Law Pro Football Negotiation Competition

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a premier event among law students in sports law at Tulane University—the Tulane Pro Football Negotiation Competition. It was a great “hands-on” experience where students who are interested in breaking into the sports industry using their law degree negotiate contracts between NFL Players and NFL Teams. The competition not only included a hands-on experience, but it also provided a networking opportunity that one would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else with an “all-star list of judges” who work within the National Football League or with agencies that represent players.

To start off, I’ll give you some background on Tulane and its relationship with sports law. Tulane Law is obviously a great law school, but it is also one of the most (if not, the most) recognized and sought after law schools in the country when it comes to preparing for a legal career in sports. Not only does Tulane attract students from all over the country whose main goal is to have a career within professional sports, but the university also has a great head of their sports law department in Professor Gabe Feldman (interview with him to follow shortly).

My law school has not sent a team to this competition before to my knowledge, and after hearing about it from a friend at Tulane law, I knew I had to partake.  A couple of my friends in the Memphis Sports & Entertainment Law Society and I formed our negotiation team to represent the University of Memphis Law School. There were 29 teams that competed from across the country.  Tulane Law sends each team competition materials including situations with real players and teams that are coming up on a renegotiation of their contracts. Situations/Cases included Malcolm Butler/New England Patriots, DeAndre Hopkins/Houston Texans, and Kawann Short/Carolina Panthers—all of whom are coming up on either contract extensions or free agency. The later rounds included Martellus Bennett/New England Patriots and a few others. I list these situations just to give you an idea of the types of players/teams that are being worked with.

In preparation, we did research on statistics of other players holding the same positions, the salary caps of each team, and the payout to players that are similar in comparison—this research was all to find a good starting point for negotiations.  It is also useful, but not required, to understand the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Each team had certain objectives that needed to be fulfilled in order to score points (i.e. certain amount of Guaranteed Money or saving a certain amount of space in the Salary Cap). Teams were also judged based on negotiation tactics and whether or not the two sides could come to a deal.

The competition consists of three days of activities from a “kickoff” dinner/networking event with a speaker (this year the speaker was Marc Trestman—former head coach of the Chicago Bears) to the actual competition and other social events so that you can meet other law students and the judges of the competition.

All of the research and negotiations truly provided an experience unlike any other offered in the country—virtually a real-life, hands-on experience. From the judges being agents and front office guys who work with NFL teams and contracts in their careers to the networking with other students who are also trying to do the same with their lives, this competition has it all. Not to mention, New Orleans is a great city to explore in your down time.

I highly recommend the Tulane Pro Football Negotiation Competition to all who are looking to gain some experience and network with professionals in the field. If your law school has a team, join it. If not, take initiative and get a team going yourself… I can almost guarantee there will be someone in your law school who will be glad to go spend a week in NOLA and negotiate NFL contracts—I mean really, what could be better?

Just to note, winners of the 2017 competition included: Villanova Law (Champion), and Denver Law (Runner-Up).

 

I hope this post inspires you to participate in the event next year or in the years to come. If you have any questions regarding my experience or the competition, please feel free to send me an email or comment.

Also, for more information and sports law news, give Tulane Sports Law (@TulaneSportsLaw) and Gabe Feldman (@SportsLawGuy) a follow on Twitter.

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

– Dale Hutcherson

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

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.