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Janine Young Kim & Matthew J. Parlow, Off-Court Misbehavior: Sports Leagues and Private Punishment, 99 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 573 (2009). “Reprinted by special permission of Northwestern University School of Law, The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology.”

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99 Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 573 (2009)


This Essay examines how professional sports leagues address (apparently increasing) criminal activity by players off of the field or court. It analyzes the power of professional sports leagues and, in particular, the commissioners of those leagues, to discipline wayward athletes. Such discipline is often met with great controversy - from players’ unions and commentators alike - especially when a commissioner invokes the “in the best interest of the sport” clause of the professional sports league’s constitution and bylaws. The Essay then contextualizes such league discipline in criminal punishment theory - juxtaposing punishment norms in public law with incentives and rationales for discipline in professional sports - and analyzes the legal and cultural limitations to this approach.

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