Evaluating NFL Player Health and Performance: Legal and Ethical Issues
This Article follows the path of a hypothetical college football player with aspirations to play in the National Football League, explaining from a legal and ethical perspective the health and performance evaluations he will likely face throughout his career. Some of these evaluations are commonplace and familiar, while others are more futuristic—and potentially of unproven value. How much information about themselves should aspiring and current professional players be expected to provide in the employment context? What are the current legal standards for employers collecting and acting on an individual’s health‐ and performance‐related information? Drawing on disability law, privacy law, and the law governing genetic testing, this Article seeks to answer those questions, as well as to provide recommendations to better protect the health and privacy of professional football players.
The upshot of our analysis is that it appears that some of the existing evaluations of players, both at the NFL Scouting Combine (Combine) and once drafted and playing for a club, seem to violate existing federal employment discrimination laws. Specifically, (1) the medical examinations at the Combine potentially violate the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) prohibitions on pre‐employment medical exams; (2) post‐offer medical examinations that are made public potentially violate the ADA’s confidentiality provisions; (3) post‐offer medical examinations that reveal a disability and result in discrimination—e.g., the rescission of a contract offer—potentially violate the ADA provided the player can still perform the essential job functions; (4) Combine medical examinations that include a request for a player’s family medical history potentially violate the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA); and (5) the preseason physical’s requirement that a player disclose his family medical history potentially violates GINA.
We believe all employers—including the NFL and its clubs—should comply fully with the current law. To that end, our recommendations center around four “C”s: compliance, clarity, circumvention, and changes to existing statutory schemes as applied to the NFL (and perhaps other professional sports).
The appendices cited in this article are available below:
What We Buy When We Buy Now
Imagine you purchase a new book from Amazon. You visit Amazon.com, find a book that looks promising, click the familiar Buy Now button, wait a mere two days for Amazon Prime delivery, and promptly place that new volume on your bookshelf, waiting for the perfect rainy day to crack it open. The next morning, you wake up to find a book‐sized gap on your shelf. Your book has disappeared. Just then, you receive an email from Amazon customer service explaining that—at the copyright holder’s request—the book has been recalled.
Amazon informs you that it dispatched a drone to your home to silently and carefully retrieve the book while you slept in order to avoid any inconvenience. But not to worry, Amazon reassures you, your account has already been credited with a refund.
Most consumers would be outraged at such an intrusion, not only because of the physical violation it entails, but also because it contravenes some basic assumptions about the nature of personal property rights. When we buy a book, we own it; it is our property. And one right traditionally associated with personal property is the ability to keep the things you own for as long as you choose. They cannot be taken from you without your consent, certainly not by private actors for their own benefit. Yet something very similar happens online when consumers buy a product.
This Article presents the results of a study that demonstrates that a sizable percentage of consumers is misled with respect to the rights they acquire when they “buy” digital media goods. They mistakenly believe they can keep those goods permanently, lend them to friends and family, give them as gifts, leave them in their wills, resell them, and use them on their devices of choice.
Not only are consumers misled, they are misled about ownership rights that are important to them. A sizable percentage of consumers express a desire for those rights and many say they are willing to pay more to preserve them. Importantly for retailers and copyright holders, respondents in our study indicated that they would turn to streaming services and BitTorrent if they were unable to engage in the uses typically associated with personal property ownership.
The Myth of the Nondelegation Doctrine
For much of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the nondelegation doctrine served as a robust check on governmental expansion. Then, during the New Deal revolution, the Supreme Court reined in the doctrine, thereby paving the way for the rise of the modern administrative state. This story is one we all know well. It is taught in every constitutional law class and has been endorsed by constitutional law scholars since the 1930s. In this Article, we are the first to challenge this narrative.
Our investigation draws upon an original dataset we compiled that includes every federal and state nondelegation challenge before 1940—more than two thousand cases in total. In reviewing these judicial decisions, we find that the nondelegation doctrine never actually constrained expansive delegations of power. Ultimately, our analysis reveals that the traditional narrative behind the nondelegation doctrine is nothing more than a myth.
Revoking the Revocable License Rule: A New Look at Resale Restrictions on Sports Tickets
Most sports fans consistently rely on the secondary ticket market. After all, the secondary ticket market provides fans with numerous benefits, including the opportunity to obtain tickets to sold out, high‐profile events and the ability to resell tickets to recoup the cost of a ticket for an event they cannot attend. But some key players—namely, primary ticket sellers like sports teams—have lamented the rise of the secondary market, complaining that resale exchanges unfairly profit from the teams’ labor and diminish the value of buying tickets directly from the teams. Consequently, teams have begun to develop new initiatives to curb the growth of the secondary market, including establishing official team resale exchanges to compete with sites like StubHub, prohibiting season ticket holders from selling tickets on unofficial resale exchanges, and implementing ticket delivery procedures that make it more difficult to resell tickets. Fortunately for teams, the law cuts squarely in their favor as courts, academics, and industry professionals alike adhere to the late nineteenth century notion of tickets as fully revocable licenses. As such, teams are free to impose resale restrictions as they see fit.
But in this Comment, I argue that lawmakers should reconsider the extent to which teams can continue to use the revocable license rule to restrict ticket holders’ resale rights. I show how the revocable license rule, though widely accepted today, was criticized and often rejected by early twentieth century courts and academics for seemingly allowing proprietors to unfairly and arbitrarily exclude innocent ticket‐holding patrons. I then explain how business incentives nevertheless prevented proprietors from abusing the rule and how judges and lawmakers relied on the assumption that these incentives would prevent the rule from being abused. In doing so, I show that the rule was actually adopted for a very limited purpose—namely, to protect a proprietor’s right to exclude unruly patrons. Given that limited purpose, I argue that courts and scholars have gradually—but improperly—extended the rule of tickets as revocable licenses such that primary ticket vendors now wield a type of unilateral power over ticket holders that the original proponents of the rule never intended to establish. Therefore, I urge that lawmakers stop allowing the notion of tickets as revocable licenses to inform the industry’s discourse about ticket holders’ rights. Finally, I explore various practical legislative solutions to reform the secondary market, which are free from the rigid assumptions of the revocable license rule and which account for the legitimate concerns of both ticket holders and teams.
Circuit Split: How Far Does Whistleblower Protection Extend Under Dodd–Frank?
Khaled Asadi and Daniel Berman worked for companies that were subject to various U.S. securities laws. During the course of their employment, both became aware of potential violations of law and dutifully reported this information to their superiors. Soon thereafter, both men lost their jobs; they believe this was in retaliation for their whistleblowing activity. Both brought suit under Dodd–Frank’s whistleblower protection provisions, which define a whistleblower as “any individual who provides . . . information relating to a violation of the securities laws to the Commission.” Because Mr. Asadi and Mr. Berman only reported violations to their supervisors internally and not to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), their protection under Dodd–Frank was uncertain. The Fifth Circuit held that Dodd–Frank did not protect Mr. Asadi because it only protects employees who report to the SEC directly. The Second Circuit, in contrast, held that Mr. Berman’s internal reporting was sufficient for him to gain protection under Dodd–Frank. These conflicting outcomes have created a circuit split with major implications for the law of whistleblower protection. This Comment ultimately argues that both the text and purpose of Dodd–Frank support the Second Circuit’s conclusion: whistleblowers who report suspected violations of law internally, but not to the SEC, are protected by Dodd–Frank’s anti‐retaliation provisions.