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Lindros' lawyer talks shop
By Lindsay Satterthwaite
Sports and entertainment lawyer, agent and professor Gordon Kirke taught Western students to "show me the money" yesterday afternoon.
Kirke's discussion, entitled "Sports Law: The Goal and How to Score," was presented by the law faculty and the distinguished speaker's committee and the speaker was introduced by third-year law student Elise Pulver.
Pulver said Kirke is the leading sports lawyer in Ontario and has always been on top of his game.
Kirke, who has represented the likes of Eric Lindros, Donovan Bailey, Gordon Lightfoot and Dolly Parton, spoke about his experiences from a professional perspective.
"The practical examples of principals of law become applied in the sports industry," Kirke said. "The focus on sports law became apparent in the mid 70s when Labatt's wanted a franchise baseball team, thinking it would be good for beer sales."
Lawyers need to understand their own limitations, in order to succeed, Kirke said.
"The key to this job is realizing your shortcomings and knowing when you need help from another legal expert," he said.
Kirke commented on the responsibility of sports team owners to their athletes. "[Owners] should be interested in their well-being, but sometimes it is just a commercial relationship," he said. "The owners have control of the environment and the safety conditions the players are in, but they often need to take a lot more interest in the health of the player."
The sports industry is definitely an ego-dominated business, noting most of his clients are self-confident at the very least, Kirke said. "Athletes need to maximize their return for a short working career and I totally support that," he said.
The most interesting part of his job is contact with the athletes, Kirke said. "I really try to maintain a professional relationship with them, but when you're meeting all the players in the players' lounge at the World Series, sometimes it is hard to contain yourself," he said.
Ryan Foster, a fourth-year kinesiology student, said he attended the presentation because he is interested in sports law and thought it would be a good introduction into the field. "I thought [Kirke's talk] was very beneficial and informative and I really enjoyed the light tone," he said.
Shauna Silver, a second-year law student, also said she enjoyed the presentation and said Kirke was a fascinating and enlightening speaker.
"He gave a refreshing perspective to the field of sports law and sports agency," she said.
"This is certainly an up-and-coming area in Canada and something that I would definitely be interested in," she added.