Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Am I Talking About?, Part 1: Overview

I picked the worst possible time to start this blog. Law students don’t have cumulative grades throughout the semester; we have exams, one for each class, at the end of each term. I start my exams today, continuing through the 27th, so for my first eight real posts I won’t be able to really analyze anything too deeply. I’ll be too busy either studying or actually taking my finals.

Because of this, for my first several posts I’m going to write a series of short explanations of what I mean when I say pseudolaw. Today I’ll give a short overview and after that I’ll give a more in-depth explanation of each type of pseudolaw that exists in sports.

So what do I mean by pseudolaw? Pseudolaw is the use of legal concepts by an organization other than a formal government. This is any situation in which the rules have the force of law, but only to the people who consent to be constrained by those rules or the governing body that issues them.

As you may have guessed, these pseudolaws don’t only apply to sports. They apply in any situation where people consent to be governed by someone other than the government. Clubs have bylaws, religions have dogma, even organized crime syndicates have some kind of rules they follow outside the actual governmental laws.

But sports are special. Secret societies, organized religions, and crime syndicates are all closed off to outsiders to varying degrees, but everyone does something for fun and we all naturally impose restrictions on that fun so it doesn’t eventually become boring or too dangerous to pursue. Because of that, we can all relate to sports in some way and that makes it a perfect engine to explore these extralegal restrictions.

Over the next week or so I will briefly explain how sports organizations handle the different aspects of these pseudolaws. Tomorrow, I will start with an explanation of basic natural and positive law and how they apply to competitions. On Friday, I’ll explain the most basic sports-legal concept, the laws themselves, the competitive rules of a game.

After that, I will discuss the deeper issue of how a governing body relates to a government. On Saturday, I will talk about the legislative powers of governing bodies, then the executive powers on Sunday, followed by the judicial powers on Monday. Tuesday, I will discuss the special case of the referee, who takes on both executive and judicial powers within a game. I will finish my overview on Wednesday with a brief discussion of collective bargaining agreements and how they tie those powers together.


  1. nice post, joe

    g'luck with your blog...looking forward to part deux

    --LI Phil

  2. Thanks Phil. I hope it's not too dry. Once I'm done with exams I'll be able to put up more interesting content and I'll have the time and energy to be livelier in my writing.