Make way for Matlock jocks
By Jeff Badger
A proposal which would see a new sport law centre join Western's legal playing field is now at the starting line.
Sport law is a rapidly-growing field that is becoming more specialized, associate dean of kinesiology Ron Watson said. The new facility is expected to serve as a documentation/resource base and research centre.
"It would engage in research in areas such as case law, state law and public policy issues relating to sport," Watson said.
The project was spawned by Watson, law professor Richard McLaren and visiting professor James Barnes, author of Sport and the Law in Canada.
Courses in sport law would be offered to students in the faculties of kinesiology and law, as well as students in scholarship programs for these areas, Watson said. McLaren added the centre will also handle cases of dispute over issues such as team selection and eligibility for Canada's amateur and Olympic athletes.
This aspect of the proposed sport law centre is already functioning out of the dispute resolution centre at Western as a program called the Sports Solution. The program helps amateur athletes with disputes over team selection, eligibility and disciplinary rulings through internal appeals processes.
The DRC is managed by second-year law students Christie Zimmer and Sara Treitz, who have six volunteer law students working for them. The centre has handled some 30-40 cases since opening in May 1996, Zimmer said. He added a large number of these cases dealt with athletes from the 1996 Olympic Team.
Zimmer said the new sport law centre would be an excellent opportunity for students at Western. "[The Sports Solution] allows us to deal with real people instead of just books," she said.
The Sports Solution has recently signed a two-year contract with Athletes CAN to continue the work it has done in the summer for the Olympic athletes, Watson said. Athletes CAN is an organization of carded athletes who are eligible for government sponsorship. "[Athletes CAN] are very happy with the aid we were able to provide and wish to continue this service," he said.
"There currently is no other sport law clinic in Canada operating on an international level. We want Western to be the first."
McLaren is one of only five Canadians who sit on the International Court for Sport Arbitration, which has 120 members worldwide and is a branch of the International Olympic Committee. "The centre will be intended for everyone all amateur athletes as well as high-profile OIympic athletes," McLaren said.
It is hoped the proposal will go before Senate sometime in February, Watson said. "I think it has great potential and we are receiving great support."