Sport Law

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Question 3. How would you define sport? Is there any room for the law to become involved in sport? Explain your answer. Give examples of your answer.

‘How would you define sport?’ It is a simple question, and yet the answer can be quite complex. The majority of us can describe a sport, by this we mean, is it participated at a professional or amateur level; is it played indoors or outdoors; do sportspeople use a round or oval ball, and yet, we still fail to define what sport is.

Sport can be defined as any form of physical activity that is undertaken with the main objective of maintaining and improving physical fitness, and sometimes offering entertainment. In most cases, sports are competitive, whereby the winners are identified using objective means. It is also important to take into consideration the fact that all forms of sport are governed using a particular set of rules. Physical athleticism is a central criterion that is used for judging whether an activity is considered as a sport or not.

The Australian Sports Commission defines sport as ‘a human activity capable of achieving a result requiring physical exertion and/or physical skill, which, by its nature and organisation, is competitive and is generally accepted as a sport’ (Australian Sports Commission 2011)

Another example of defining sport, Jay Coakley (2006, 21) defines sport as ‘institutionalised competitive activities that involve vigorous physical exertion or the use of relatively complex physical skills by individuals whose participation is motivated by a combination of personal enjoyment and extrinsic rewards’.

From the above examples, we can ascertain that for an activity to be defined as a sport it requires at least physical exertion on behalf of its participants, physical skill and to be competitive in nature.

With this in mind, my personal definition of sport would be an activity that would require physical athleticism, competition between myself and another person/team and has a framework of rules in which to abide by. I believe that the important concept of structure rules is missed in the above referenced definitions. Sport can also include an activity that is a personal challenge; where the motivation is to compete against oneself, for example, I compete in 10km running events, and my motivation is to beat my personal best. Sometimes this is just as motivating as trying to beat other competitors.

With the ever-increasing professionalism of sport, sports’ growth as a business commodity and increased government funding and interest, there is definitely room for the law to be involved in sport. The law creates rights and obligations for participants, coaches, officials and sporting organisations. The court system, both civil and criminal jurisdictions, can play an important role in resolving disputes in sport. One example is the case of News Limited & Ors v South Sydney District Rugby League Football Club Ltd [2003], where the club, utilising the Trade Practices Act 1974, was reinstated into the National Rugby League through the Federal Court (Healey 2009, 11).

Another example of the law being involved in sport can be seen in the case of Gardiner v All Australia Netball Assn. Ltd [2003], where Gardiner was prevented from playing netball at the elite level due to being pregnant. The Federal Magistrates Court of Australia found AANA to be in violation of the Sex Discrimination Act, and was ordered to pay Gardiner damages (Global Justice Center 2011). These are just a couple of examples, however, courts are less willing to adjudicate issues such as selection disputes, disciplinary hearings, unless procedural fairness has been breached, and anti-doping. In certain circumstances, such as the aforementioned cases, the intervention of law is required, which can build upon the internal regulations of the sporting body concerned (Haselgrove-Spurin 2003, 14).

Question 5. Discuss anti-siphoning provisions and the events...
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