Sports Contracts Are Legal Documents In The Public Domain That Necessitates Handling By Lawyers

Sports Contracts Are Legal Documents In The Public Domain That Necessitates Handling By Lawyers

February 25, 2019 Off By Glespynorson

With substantial money pouring into the sports arena more and more sportsmen are turning professionals. Professional athletes earn a lot of money in one year than most other people can make in their lifetime. Professional athletes earn from the sport just as any other person earns a paycheck, but there is a distinct difference in the employability document. Unlike employed people whose service agreement comprises of an appointment letter, sports and entertainment agreements are in place for professional sportsmen and performers. Sports contracts are much like any other contracts that you come across in daily life. The similarity is only in the basic structure of the agreements, but there are lot more intricacies of agreements for professional athletes and sportsmen that makes it one of its kinds. However, contract related issues can also affect amateur sportsmen.

Amateur athletes desirous of changing their status to become professionals often have to make tough choices to make them eligible earn huge money available from the related sport. Since the contracts are legal documents, sportsmen engage lawyers to represent them. Although it is not mandatory to hire lawyers, it has become a norm to appoint lawyers for securing deals for sportsmen. Lawyers who represent the sportsmen must have proper training in the fundamentals of the contract and should be aware of the market value of their client in comparison to other sportsmen in the same sports discipline.

Why you need a sports lawyer

Sports lawyers are the best persons to handle sports contracts for several reasons. A sports contract is much more than a simple agreement as it contains large monetary values, complicated terms and sometimes high-profile lawyers are on the other side. Sports contracts often involve a considerable amount of public relation activities because the contract is in the public domain that attracts a lot of public attention and can lead to debates and disputes. Only a sports lawyer is competent to handle the public relations aspects of sports contracts. Since the contract provides very rare opportunities in a sportsperson’s career for earning money, it needs specialists to handle it for maximizing the gains.

Sports agents are also important

Like lawyers, sports agents are also part of sporting contracts and deals as they play an important role in securing and negotiating contracts for professional sportsmen. However, many sportsmen are averse to appointing agents who charge a hefty commission for representing individual sportsmen. All sports contracts are personal service contracts since sportsmen stay committed to making use of their unique abilities, talent, and skills to deliver results.

Now, let us look at the different type of sports contracts.

Categories of contract in sports

Sports can be individual performance based or team sport. Athletes, tennis players, golfers, etc. perform in individual capacity to provide the results whereas football, hockey, baseball, basketball are all team sports where individuals collectively perform to deliver the results. The contracts consider this aspect and accordingly there are three types of contracts applicable to professional sportsmen. A professional sportsperson who is part of a team receives a standard Player’s contract. The salary, bonuses and the power to negotiate to pertain to the contract are special to the individual sportsperson and open for renegotiation.

Sports contracts can be of three types.

  • Standard Player’s contract or professional services contract
  • Endorsements contracts
  • Appearance contracts.

Professional services contract or Standard Player’s contract

The standard Player contract is the same for all sportsmen regardless of whether he or she is part of a players association or not. However, this does not mean that everyone receives the same contract because although the contract is same in its essence and spirit, the components of salary, bonus, incentives, etc. differ from one sportsperson to another. Addendums are part of SPK of the standard player contract.

Replicating the model of contracts issued by any of the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA teams is a practice followed by newly formed leagues as it becomes easy to identify issues relevant to sportsmen and team owners. It also ensures that the contract follows the best practices of the trade that have gained recognition over time.

However, some start-up leagues have become more innovative with professional services contracts by introducing minimal salaries for sportsmen in that sport and awarding rewards and incentives for both individuals and the team on per game basis.

Endorsement contracts

The employer-employee relationship that exists in professional services contracts is absent in endorsement contracts because it does not have any direct link to the professional skills demonstrated by the sportsperson. Endorsements contracts are like that of an independent contractor.  Typically, the contract grants the sponsor the right to use, like issuing a license, the name of the sportsperson, his or her image, and likeness to advertise the products or services of the sponsor.

Although the endorsement contracts are between the individual sportsperson and the sponsor, the leagues in professional sports do have a say in restricting players from endorsing tobacco products or alcoholic beverages. A recent NFL policy prohibits players from endorsing some specific nutritional supplements. All sports endorsement contracts must have legal sanction. Earnings from sports contracts can be huge that depends on how much earnings in terms of sales the sponsor expects from the assistance lent by the sportsperson in promoting the products or services.

Appearance contract

An appearance contract is much similar to endorsement contracts in body and spirit but differs in its implementation. When a sportsperson enters into an appearance contract, it becomes binding on the individual to appear at sports camps, public functions, Football today(บอลวันนี้)  some tournaments or other events that the sponsor thinks befitting for business promotion. The sportsperson receives compensation for the appearances that he or she agrees.

Drafting a sports contract needs legal expertise so that the professional sportspersons remain indemnified from damages that can arise from it. The contract also ensures timely receipt of payments and includes a mechanism for settling disputes both within an outside the court. Taking a pessimistic approach in drafting a contract ensures complete protection of sportsmen’s interests by taking care of the situations and legal issues arising from it.