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2017: The Year in Sports Law

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on December 29, 2017 5:55 AM

It was a busy year, on and off the field. While players and coaches were vying for championships, lawyers and judges were working overtime behind the scenes, sorting out some enormous legal issues in the sports world.

Here are the major sports law stories from 2017:

1. 3 More States Trying to Legalize Sports Betting

By far the most far-reaching sports story of the year has to be current efforts to legalize sports gambling nationwide. New Jersey's case was argued before the Supreme Court this month, and a verdict is expected next year.

2. Colin Kaepernick's Grievance Claims 'Concrete and Actual Collusion' by NFL Teams

And the story that caught everyone's eye, including the president's, was continued protest from NFL players targeting police brutality, and one player notably absent from NFL sidelines this season.

3. Scientists Think They Can Now Diagnose CTE in Living Patients

Not a legal story per se, but one that could have an enormous impact on sports-related litigation, researchers believe they can now test for CTE before a patient dies, making it possible to identify more precisely when the player suffered the damage.

4. Aaron Hernandez's Family Sues NFL, Pats for Loss of Consortium

Speaking of concussions, a lawsuit against the Patriots and NFL claims the team and the league didn't do enough to protect Hernandez from injury, ultimately leading to his prison suicide.

5. Second Circuit Stays Ezekiel Elliott's Suspension

And speaking of the NFL, arbitrators and courts are still sorting out exactly how much power NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has when it comes to player discipline -- 2017 saw a few reversals on the matter of Elliott's suspension.

6. Lawsuit: USA Gymnastics Paid to Keep Sexual Abuse Quiet

A case that's been simmering for years boiled over in 2017, with allegations not just that a long-tenured USAG team doctor assaulted hundreds of female athletes over decades, but that his employers knew, and either did nothing or actively tried to cover it up.

7. 6 Arrested in Napa High School Football Freshman Hazing Incidents

High school hazing, tragically, is still a thing. But with more and more prosecutions following these incidents, perhaps we can say goodbye to such juvenile, dangerous behavior in the future.

8. Fired NFL Network Stylist Accuses Several Former Players of Sexual Misconduct

The sexual harassment and assault allegations that permeated every headline this year made their way into sports broadcasting is as well, with at least six former players named in a suit against the NFL Network involving on-set harassment.

9. Former USC Footballer Sentenced to 21 Years as 'Crime Boss'

In one of the strangest sports stories of the year, Owen Hanson went from Trojan walk-on to worldwide drug kingpin to jailbird in record time.

10. USPS Seeks $100M From Lance Armstrong Due to Sponsorship

Yep -- it's 2017 and the Lance Armstrong legal saga continues, this time over violation of a sponsorship contract.

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