NFLPA’s Gripe with Fantasy Could Be About Done

Tuesday’s rulings in the CBS Interactive lawsuit against the NFL Players Association were even better news than we here at realized.

After gathering more information on the proceedings and talking to some people smarter than we are, it has become clear that the NFLPA is very near the same result that Major League Baseball and its players association found in challenging fantasy companies previously.

The key part is that in granting CBS’ motion for summary judgment, the U.S. district court judge presiding over the suit in Minnesota ruled in the plaintiff’s favor — including a declaration that use of player statistics, news and headshots for fantasy games is protected by the First Amendment.

The NFLPA has 30 days from the date of the ruling to appeal the case and seems like it probably will. After all, this is pretty much the last chance for the league and players association limit access for fantasy game providers. If the ruling stands, the NFLPA — like MLB before it — won’t be allowed to take any other fantasy entities to court anywhere in the country over the same issues.

Of course, if the appeal is filed, it will head to the same Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled in favor of CBC in the baseball case. It’s tough to imagine the court going against its own previous ruling.

If baseball and football are both blocked in attempts to extract payments for access to player statistics, names and licenses, other sports would seem unlikely to mount similar challenges. They would certainly be allowed to, but the size of the fantasy markets in baseball and football put a lot more money on the line in licensing disputes. Would it be worth the lawyer fees for NASCAR or PGA to take fantasy providers to court? Probably not.

One also has to wonder whether such a challenge would be worth any potential public relations fallout that could accompany. With a smaller fan base than MLB or the NFL enjoy, the NHL — for instance — would feel the effects more of alienating any portion of its followers.

So, fantasy folks, although we’re not officially at an endpoint in the fight between sports leagues and game providers, we certainly appear to be closing in on the unofficial finish line.


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2 Responses to “NFLPA’s Gripe with Fantasy Could Be About Done”

  1. Randal Burgess Says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but was the NFL even involved with this case? I thought this was an argument between the NFLPA and CBS, only.


  2. Matt Schauf Says:

    You’re right, that’s unfair shorthand for a case that should be treated with more clarity. I’ll correct it so as not to mislead anyone.

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