Sports Law: Legal Concerns with the Introduction of Technology

Published by: Lawphoria

Last updated on April 5, 2022

The gaming and sports legal system in India is a relatively new and barely exploited legal field. Sports law is based on how the law generally interacts with sports activity. Sports law has an unusually well-developed pattern of globalized regulation and substantially overlaps with labour law, contract law, criminal law, public law, administrative law, competition law, intellectual property law, law of torts, media law, company law, human rights laws, etc. These laws have been applied to the sporting context involving public order, drugs, security, disciplinary measures, conduct, and broader issues related to trade restriction, anti-competitive behaviour, match-fixing and commercial exploitation of sports. In sports law, issues like defamation and privacy rights are also an integral aspect.

Technology has played such an important role in the success of sportsmen around the world. In addition to training and conditioning, sports authorities and coaches are more selective in the search for players, preparing athletes whose body type or other traits give them a certain advantage, from an early age. This ensures that only the fittest candidates for a sport enter the competitive arena. There is no way to know the answer to this question for sure unless we can devise an exact counterfactual for decades without the use of technology, which of course is almost impossible. This problem makes any inter-generational comparison of greats of all time meaningless, to the chagrin of sports fans around the world. More importantly, this revelation helps us contextualize the feats in modern sport that we have come to see as superhuman achievements. They may not be completely superhuman feats, but these human feats were made possible by innovative technology.
Virtual reality has become one of the most popular buzzwords in recent years due to its potential to revolutionize many industries. Arguably, the sports industry is where virtual reality is being used in the most effective and aggressive way. The advent of virtual reality technology will likely fundamentally change the way sports are practised, advertised, and viewed. An increasing number of professional sports teams are incorporating virtual reality into their training programs. Content distributors and tech start-ups are competing to offer more games in the virtual reality format and advertisers are eager to capitalize on the business opportunities created by a fully immersive fan experience.
At the same time, the adoption of virtual reality technology in sports will create new legal questions and will require an expansion of existing legal doctrines. Virtual reality offers unprecedented opportunities for players to improve their brands, as well as dangers for their names and reputations to be destroyed overnight. With devices ranging from portable monitors to clothing and equipment with integrated sensors, professional teams, colleges and universities, local school districts and other sports and sports institutions, as well as the companies that provide the portable devices, they can now collect massive amounts of such data such as an athlete’s heart rate, glucose level, breathing, gait, tension, or fatigue. On the surface, this data may be related to the performance and general well-being of an athlete, which may be somewhat apparent to spectators without the aid of the device. However, alone or together, the data may reveal more sensitive personal information related to the identity, location or health status of the athlete, information that cannot be obtained simply by closely observing the individual. When organizations collect, use, share, or store this data, they create certain privacy and security risks, and numerous international, central, and state data protection laws may apply. Any sports or sports organization that develops a portable device program, or has reason to believe that these devices are being used by coaches and others to collect similar data, should be aware of these regulatory risks and issues.

II. General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union-

Many organizations may not yet have heard of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and many sports and sports institutions may not have a reason to know because the law does not apply to them. However, the GDPR potentially applies, for example, when a team collects, monitors, analyses, “processes” a player’s personal data obtained through a portable device during an exhibition game or training session located in the EU. This may be the case even though the team is not established in the EU, the player is not an EU citizen or resident at the time of monitoring, and the team is not targeting the EU with this practice. For entities that are unfamiliar with the GDPR, it gives data subjects (possibly the athletes in this example) a large number of rights, along with significant obligations on the controllers and processors of that data.
The wearable technology industry is booming. It brings countless potential benefits, as well as significant privacy and data security risks. Organizations that collect, use and store personal data from athletes face increasing compliance obligations as the law tries to keep up with technology, cybersecurity crimes and public awareness of data privacy and security. Creating a robust data protection program or regularly reviewing an existing one will be a critical step in risk management and legal compliance.

III. Conclusion-

The field of sports law is new in India and time and again there has been in-depth research and investigation into this. Despite having several federations and independent bodies in India, our country lacks a good sports system and fails in all major events due to a precise and uniform law for sports.
For sports and athletes to prosper, sports law must flourish in India and the intervention of the Legislature is essential. India needs to understand that sport is no longer an insignificant variety of athletes fighting for the top position but also involves a complex legal issue and the entire career of athletes is at stake. There is a different legal system that emanates from this field and must receive adequate attention. Efforts should be made to improve the sports environment with the help of law as Sport is not limited to recreation but is a matter of national pride.

– Authored by
Nishant Tiwari
NUSRL, Ranchi

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