Handbook on International Sports Law
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Handbook on International Sports Law

Edited by James A.R. Nafziger and Stephen F. Ross

This Handbook presents a comprehensive collection of essays by leading scholars and practitioners in the burgeoning field of international sports law.
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Chapter 9: Athlete Eligibility Requirements and Legal Issues

Matthew J. Mitten and Timothy Davis


Matthew J. Mitten and Timothy Davis* I. INTRODUCTION This chapter compares and examines the existing legal frameworks governing athletic eligibility rules and dispute resolution processes for Olympic and international sports as well as United States professional, college, and high school sports from both private law and public law perspectives. At all levels of sports competition, monolithic sports leagues and governing bodies1 establish eligibility requirements and conditions that must be satisfied for an individual to participate in athletics. Most sports governing bodies have broad, exclusive authority to regulate a single sport or group of sports on either an international, national, or state-wide basis, which provides the corresponding power to exclude or limit athletic participation opportunities. In some instances, unilaterally established eligibility rules either completely preclude an individual from athletic participation or condition his or her right to participate upon compliance with substantial requirements. Given the many tangible and/or intangible benefits that athletes derive from athletic participation at all levels of competition, this chapter assesses whether the developing discreet bodies of international and United States national and state law appropriately regulate the promulgation of athlete eligibility rules and their application by monolithic sports leagues and governing bodies having broad, plenary authority to oversee Olympic, professional, college, and high school sports respectively. In conducting our analysis and making recommendations, we consider whether athletes have an effective voice and/or voting rights in the eligibility rule-making process; the nature and effect of the eligibility rule; and the nature and scope of judicial or...

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