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Law 360, January 3,2021

By Zachary Zagger

Law360 (January 3, 2021, 12:02 PM EST) — With COVID-19 cases surging in the U.S., state lawmakers are debating whether and to what extent fans will be allowed to attend live sporting events in 2021, while the pandemic seems to only be fueling the piecemeal legalization of sports betting as states look to add much-needed tax revenue.
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The bill comes after a framework for the Bill of Rights legislation was released in August by a group of Democratic lawmakers, including Booker and Vice President-elect Sen. Kamala Harris.

While state NIL bills have received bipartisan support, the Bill of Rights issue has become more partisan, said entertainment and sports attorney Glen Rothstein of Rothstein Law APC.

“I think everyone agrees on both sides of the aisle that the current system is unfair on at least some level and everyone wants the college system to continue to exist,” Rothstein said. “But the Republicans are more narrowly focused on the issue of name, image and likeness rights and they are more sympathetic to the NCAA’s desire to avoid creating an employee-employer relationship between schools and players, whereas the Democrats are more focused on the athletes rights more broadly.”

A handful of NIL bills were introduced in Congress in 2020, but the Bill of Rights is the most comprehensive in its overhaul of college sports and the most athlete-friendly, addressing not just the economic rights of athletes, but their health and safety and educational opportunities. It is

With a new Congress set to take over next year and the nation still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not clear whether a federal NIL bill will be passed at all in 2021, but the proposals in the Bill of Rights legislation are likely to shape the discussion.

“There is a silver lining here in that any improvement that the student-athletes get is going to be an improvement on the current system,” Rothstein said. “There is no question that the status quo is changing. It is just a question of how much the student-athletes are going to gain in terms of rights and privileges.”

–Editing by Bruce Goldman.

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