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Teaching Torts with Sports

Journal of Legal Studies Education, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 117-142, 2011

26 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2010 Last revised: 15 Dec 2012

Adam Epstein

Central Michigan University - Department of Finance and Law

Date Written: February 3, 2011


The purpose of this paper is to offer a pedagogical road map for an alternative way to engage students when arriving at the torts portion of the business law or legal environment course. It is designed to encourage utilizing sports cases and sport-related videos when teaching torts which can be effective and energizing. My research demonstrates that the prominence of sports related tort cases and examples are much more apparent in the negligence and intentional tort categories than in products liability or strict liability. More specifically, an effective way to relate the concept of negligence in sports is in the context of flying objects such as foul balls, bats, and hockey pucks. Incorporating intentional torts and sports usually begins with hits after the play, a pitcher intentionally hitting the batter, and the incidents of violence involving participants, fans, referees, coaches and parents. One of the best examples of products liability is the safety debate between using wooden baseball bats in professional baseball and the metal or aluminum bats in college baseball. Strict liability involving ultra-hazardous activities has its place for discussion in sports torts, but the breadth of litigation on the subject is clearly the least common of the four major tort categories rendering it virtually non-existent. Instructors are given hints as to how to engage students with sports torts regardless of their educational generation. Contemporary and classic cases are provided as examples.

Keywords: Negligence, Intentional Torts, Products Liability, Strict Liability, Videos

Suggested Citation

Epstein, Adam, Teaching Torts with Sports (February 3, 2011). Journal of Legal Studies Education, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 117-142, 2011 . Available at SSRN:

Adam Epstein (Contact Author)

Central Michigan University - Department of Finance and Law ( email )

334 Sloan Hall
Mount Pleasant, MI 48859
United States
989-774-4428 (Phone)
989-774-6456 (Fax)

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