Often people expect Sports Law to be ‘Law Lite,’ but I think it’s the opposite. It’s a really good class for teaching the law.”
Associate Professor of Law
Professor Michael McCann wants to spark students' interest in new, unexplored realms. Take Sports Law, a class he teaches as a seminar at VLS, and as a reading group at Yale Law School. "Sports Law enables me to talk about areas of the law that otherwise might not interest students. Antitrust, for example, sounds complicated and dry. But when seen in the context of whether or not leagues can enforce age limits in professional sports, it becomes much more interesting. Often people expect Sports Law to be ‘Law Lite,’ but I think it's the opposite. It's a really good class for teaching the law."
When McCann is standing before a classroom, he's thinking about ways to reach each and every student. "My goals are to make sure I'm clear, to encourage everyone to raise a hand, and to bring in other disciplines to keep it interesting." McCann's first-year torts class does just that, by incorporating recent changes in tort reform, or by asking students to argue on the side of a case they might not initially choose to represent. Numerous teaching awards, including Professor of the Year at Mississippi College School of Law, attest to McCann's engaging teaching.
McCann is a nationally recognized expert in the field of sports law, antitrust, and behavioral law and economics. His Yale Law Journal piece on American Needle v. NFL analyzes what is, according to McCann, arguably the most important sports law case in U.S. history. Recently heard before the Supreme Court, the case examines whether pro sports leagues are "single entities" for the purpose of the Sherman Act.
But McCann brings sports law to a broader audience beyond the legal and legislative worlds. He is legal analyst and columnist for Sports Illustrated and the magazine's online version, SI.com. He is frequently interviewed for national television and radio programs, as well as newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post. McCann relishes the challenge of switching from an academic writing style to a more mainstream one and appreciates the feedback he receives from nonlawyers. "I learn a lot. People write to me about the SI column, and they look at the law from a really interesting perspective. I'm struck by the level of sophistication."
Why did a sports law expert decide to teach at VLS? "The law school is at the forefront of environmental law and policy, and while those areas are outside my expertise, it's neat to know that I work alongside the world's top people in hugely important fields." It doesn't hurt that he's a huge fan of New England sports teams. Favorite fan moment? "I was at game two of the 2004 World Series. Curt Schilling pitched the game in a bloody sock, and we went on to win the game and the series. It's a great memory."