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Sport and the Law (LAWS20011)

Undergraduate level 2Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 2
Subject codeLAWS20011
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject provides an account of how the law influences sport. Although the subject focuses on legal principles, it will bear in mind sport’s historical, cultural, social and economic context, including the drama and colour of sport’s major events and leading personalities. And although it is inevitably very much concerned with elite professional sports it is not dominated by them, and seeks to cover the widest possible range of sports, professional and amateur.

Initially, the subject addresses practical issues such the distinction between recreational, community amateur and professional sport and including the governance structures of international sport. Thereafter three main themes are identified: regulatory; participatory; and financial aspects of modern sport. The regulatory theme considers how decisions of sports governing bodies may be challenged in the ordinary courts and the development of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in sport – in short, how sport manages to keep its disputes out the courts. The participatory theme includes doping and criminal violence in sport, as well as the broader topic of legal liability for sporting injuries and including concussion. The financial theme, reflecting the enhanced commercialisation of sport at all levels, is developed in lectures concerning issues in applied contract and employment law for players and legal matters surrounding the organisation of major sports events and including sponsorship and broadcasting matters. In brief, we look at contracts of employment that professional sports persons have and how major sporting events are organised.

The concluding lectures speculate on what’s ahead for modern sport in terms of scientific developments (genetic enhancements); technological developments (esports) and the role of other areas of the law notably human rights law on sport.

In sum, the subject is designed to cover fundamental and topical areas of sports law: sports law in general; sports bodies and the courts; arbitration in sport; corruption; doping; violence; civil liability; discrimination; the commodification of modern sport; and the likely future of sports law. Finally, the module is designed around common law jurisdictions but is also informed by a comparative approach reflecting the global administration of sport.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this subject students should:

  • Introduce students to the legal doctrines and principles that oversee, influence and impact upon sport and the human, communitarian and commercial relationships that exist within sport.
  • Examine the legal responsibilities of sports governing bodies domestically and internationally with regard to the regulatory, participatory, and financial aspects of modern sport
  • Explore ideas about the juridification and commodification of sport and the legal rights of individual therein; critically evaluating the legal tools, including access to alternative means of justice, to achieve the protection of such rights;
  • Critique the extant sporting legal system domestically and globally through case study perspectives, and explore opportunities to reform "sports law" so that it might better achieve its objectives.

Generic skills

  • Acquired knowledge of the legal principles and regulatory systems relating to sport and including the participatory, regulatory and financial aspects thereof;
  • Been introduced to the fundamental premises of rights and responsibilities within a legal system as they relate to the self-regulatory ecosystem that is sport both internationally and domestically;
  • Used critical analysis skills to independently reflect and synthesise acquired knowledge so to demonstrate understanding of the legal rights and responsibilities of the various actors, entities and stakeholders within sport;
  • Drafted an opinion on a hypothetical and topical problem in sport (and similarly in an exam situation) from a legal perspective, using written, research and analytical skills to justify and present an independently formed perspective.

Last updated: 18 September 2019