A number of years into a career in physical education I realized it wasn’t the vehicle to realize my broader goals. I returned to university to study law at the University of Alberta and began practicing with a mid sized law firm. I came to see I could start using my legal skills to help sport organizations become more aware of their legal rights and obligations. It was a time before ‘sport law’ was a thing, nevertheless I teamed up with another professional, to build a legal and consulting firm – the Centre for Sport and Law, as it was then called, and which today continues to be a mainstay in the Canadian sport community under its recently rebranded name of Sport Law. I eventually came back to academia focusing on the legal underpinnings of sport and sport management.
I have now retired from teaching. During the course of my teaching career, I taught a number of legally oriented courses in the Department of Sport Management. They were interesting to me because of their dynamic nature focusing on legal principles underlying the business of sport. Perhaps the most engaging course for me was a negotiation course in which we focused on the theory and skills of negotiation and spent considerable time putting it all to practice. Sport practitioners inevitably engage in some form of negotiation every day. One can learn to be a very good negotiator.
My focus, and continuing interest in terms of scholarly writing, is the regulatory regimes of sport and their impact on participants within the system, particularly athletes. The recently introduced Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport and the independent regulatory body overseeing it, presents a number of jurisdictional and institutional issues worth exploring. A colleague, Marcus Mazzucco, and I recently contributed 5 chapters on the subject to a new digital book on Safe Sport, edited by CSC Director Dr. Julie Stevens. Similarly, athletes face several jurisdictional barriers when attempting to advance their interests and challenge the International Olympic Committee’s exercise of authority over the Olympic Movement. A number of recent decisions of the Court of Arbitration for Sport provide opportunity to examine the jurisprudence around these barriers and allow me to continue writing in the area.
It’s golf season – enough said!! I also have a couple of trips of the hiking and cycling variety planned. Retirement affords opportunity to dig into some of these activities a bit more seriously and combine them with travel.
I typically have 3 or 4 books on the go at any one time. A very engaging visiting law professor once said to a class I was attending that an ingredient of professional and personal success and satisfaction is being a well-rounded and informed person and recommended we read a book a month. It has become a life long habit and pleasure, though sometimes a challenge. I typically have a book on some professional subject matter (currently, Regulating International Sport: Power, Authority and Legitimacy by Lloyd Freeburn), a biography or political book (currently, The Arbornaut: A Life Discovering the Eighth Continent in the Trees Above Us by Meg Lowman) and some sort of mystery, espionage or courtroom drama (just finished State of Terror by Louise Penny and Hillary Rodham Clinton) lying about.
With a curious demeanour and an open mind, it is not difficult to stay engaged and learn new things daily. Life long learning kept the job interesting and the mind alive. The learning environment doesn’t have to be formal – though it can be. For a time while practicing law, I enrolled in a number of art history courses as a way to distract from the intensity and drama of the work. Engaging in a negotiation course through another university led to the development of a similar course as part of the Sport Management curriculum (and the development of some very important skills). You never know where inspiration will come from or where it might take one.