Accordingly, we need not, and do not decide, whether a ticket-holder possesses nothing more than a license to enter and view whatever event, if any, happens to transpire. Here, Mayer undeniably saw football games played by two NFL teams. This therefore is not a case where, for example, the game or games were cancelled, strike replacement players were used, or the professional football teams themselves did something nonsensical or absurd, such as deciding to play basketball.
Furthermore, we do recognize that Mayer alleged that he was the victim, not of mere poor performance by a team or its players, but of a team’s ongoing acts of dishonesty or cheating in violation of the express rules of the game. Nevertheless, there are any number of often complicated rules and standards applicable to a variety of sports, including professional football.
It appears uncontested that players often commit intentional rule infractions in order to obtain an advantage over the course of the game. For instance, a football player may purposefully commit pass interference or a “delay of game.” Such infractions, if not called by the referees, may even change the outcome of the game itself.... Mayer further does not appear to contest the fact that a team is evidently permitted by the rules to engage in a wide variety of arguably “dishonest” conduct to uncover an opponent’s signals. For example, a team is apparently free to take advantage of the knowledge that a newly hired player or coach takes with him after leaving his former team, and it may even have personnel on the sidelines who try to pick up the opposing team’s signals with the assistance of lip-reading, binoculars, note-taking, and other devices. ...
At least in this specific context, it is not the role of judges and juries to be second-guessing the decision taken by a professional sports league purportedly enforcing its own rules. In fact, we generally lack the knowledge, experience, and tools in which to engage in such an inquiry. For instance, there appear to be no real standards or criteria that a legal decision-maker may use to determine when a particular rule violation gives rise to an actionable claim or should instead be accepted as a usual and expected part of the game. At the very least, a ruling in favor of Mayer could lead to other disappointed fans filing lawsuits because of “a blown call” that apparently caused their team to lose or any number of allegedly improper acts committed by teams, coaches, players, referees and umpires, and others.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
AT BEST, HE POSSESSED NOTHING MORE THAN A CONTRACTUAL RIGHT TO A SEAT FROM WHICH TO WATCH AN NFL GAME BETWEEN THE JETS AND THE PATRIOTS, AND THIS RIGHT WAS CLEARLY HONORED: The Third Circuit has affirmed the dismissal of the complaint filed in Carl J. Mayer v. Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots and the National Football League, filed by a New York Jets season ticket holder who believed his September 9, 2007 ticket entitled him "to observe an honest match played in compliance with all laws, regulations and NFL rules" when instead he got SpyGate. The dismissal rests on the grounds in this post's caption, but I do enjoy the language regarding fan's rights which I'll include below the fold:
Posted by Adam at 8:44 AM