Sport Law Cases that involved Media Attention

Sport Law Cases that involved Media Attention

Legal issues in relation to sports gyrate around various issues of law such as contract issues, intellectual property, and other elements. The main objective of this research is to examine two critical sport law cases that involved media attention. In order to address this objective, the report will focus on the Oakley v. Nike and Rory Mcllroy and Dyer et al v. National Football League cases. This is through examination of the criminal and civil elements of the case.

Oakley v. Nike and Rory Mcllroy

There was an announcement on 21st January 2013 in relation to the agreement in which Rory Mcllroy signed a £150 million with reference to a ten-year sponsorship agreement with Nike as one of the critical sportswear brands. It is essential to demonstrate the fact that Mcllroy had previous sponsorship agreements with entities such as Santander Bank, Oakley for the clothing and eyewear, Jumeirah, and Titleist for the clubs and golf balls. With reference to the sums of the agreement, the player had to fulfil the obligations of the contract through dressing on the Nike products from head to toe for the stipulated ten years as in the case of the endorsement deal. This led to the termination of the agreement between Mcllroy, Jumeirah, and Titleist under the influence of a mutual consent (Zhang, 2013).

The consequence of the action, termination of the agreement, was evident in 2012 when Oakley filed a lawsuit in relation to the contract the brand had with Mcllroy. The provision of the contract between the player as well as Oakley integrated a ‘right of first refusal’. This was vital in providing contractual privilege to Oakley with the aim of matching an offer to the player for the clothing and eyewear. The endorsement of the head to toe deal by Nike was, therefore, a hindrance to the player wearing any brand products by Oakley (Epstein, 2013). According to Oakley, the agreement with Nike was executed while the player still had an agreement or contract with Oakley. In addition, Oakley claimed that it offered to match the terms of the new agreement with Nike, but the player ignored the move. This is an indication that Oakley was denied the ‘right of first refusal’ enforceable in the contract. Nike induced the player, Mcllroy to breach the existing contract with Oakley (Zhang, 2013).

By the virtue of his age, charisma, popularity, and success, Mcllroy was the second most marketable athlete across the globe in accordance with the Sportspro Magazine. According to Mcllroy’s management company, Horizon, the player ensured the fulfilment of all the contractual obligations to Oakley. This is an indication that the claim of any breach of contract lacked substantive merit in any court of law (Zhang, 2013). The emails between the Management Company as well as Oakley were an effective illustration of the fact that Oakley was out of the running of the 2013 contract. The case illustrates the extent to which a brand is willing to go towards securing a high profile athlete as a key component of the brand strategy. This case received massive media attention because of the global rank of Mcllroy in the sporting activities. In addition, the image and reputation of Nike in the sporting sphere as well as the ‘right to first refusal’ clause of the previous contract was vital in the coverage of the case (Zhang, 2013). The long-term deal focuses on limiting the extent of competition from other competitors such as Adidas. From this analysis, it is vital to note that the main issues were the ‘right to first refusal’ and the ability of Nike to follow contractual procedures in entering into the long-term agreement with the player, Mcllroy.

Dyer et al v. National Football League

The case of Dyer et al v. National Football League is an expression of the desire of the retired football players with reference to compensation for the National Football League. This relates to unauthorized use of the retired players’ names, voices, images, and likeliness in the promotion of the league as well as earning of substantive revenues. Seven retired National Football League filed the suit in 2009 under the allegations that the NFL violated their rights with reference to publicity as well as trademark under the influence of the Lanham Act. The seven retired players note in the case that National Football League earned substantive revenues and profits through generation and production of promotional films as well as selling products featuring the images, voices, and other attributes of the retired football players (Cassie, 2012).

It is vital to note that most of the retired football players in the promotional process by NFL struggle with critical physical disabilities having played for their respective teams in the National Football League. In addition, these players had their opportunity when salaries were modest. As retirees, these players are struggling financially despite the fact that NFL continuous to accumulate record-breaking revenues and profits from these promotions and advertisements by using images and voices of the retired players. In this case, the defendant was the National Football League as an entity. On the other hand, seven retired players formed the plaintiffs in the context of this case (Cassie, 2012).

Despite the fact that NFL was allowed to exploit the player’s names, voices, images, and likeliness in the course of their playing time for the promotion of the league, there was no usage allowed in the case of the retired players. This was essential towards protection of the image and reputation of the retired players especially the ones who participated prior to 1993. The main objective of the complaint was to aid the financial struggle by the retired players facing physical challenges as well as financial issues. Specifically, the complaint focuses on addressing the NFL usage of the film production with the aim of promoting the league. This is an indication of the organization using the images and identities of the retired players for the promotion of commercial concepts such as revenue-generation and film production for the promotion of the NFL (Cassie, 2012).

This was an illustration of violation of privacy as well as exploitation. National Football League uses the retired players’ images and identities without the permission or consent of the relevant football players. In addition, National Football League restricts accessibility to the footage thus requiring the public as well as players featuring in the video to pay fees in the process of obtaining the footage. The case demonstrates the extent to which commercial entities in the sporting sphere can go toward the achievement of their goal and objectives in the respective fields of operation.


Cassie Sadowitz, (2012). “Dyer v. National Football League Litigation Report”, pp. 1-21.

Zhang Bing, (2013). “Sports Law Periodical”. Dacheng Law Offices, pp. 1-29.

Epstein, A., & Epstein, Adam. (2013). Sports law. Mason, OH: South-Western.

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