Observers were witness to a contentious debate over the future of Jarvis Field at Monday’s Alternative Sports Law panel in Pound 103. Co-sponsored by the Office of Career Services and Law Students for Sports and Leisure, the panel sought to bring together recent alums to share their experiences working in the alternative sports industry.
Seth White, Class of 1990, spoke about his work in the skating and snowboard industry. His work includes representing the interests of professional snowboarders and dealing with legal matters for the X-Games. He discovered his passion for skateboarding on a rare free Sunday during his second year at Wachtell.
“I was walking through Central Park and there were a bunch of guys about my age fooling around on their boards…nothing fancy, just ollies and kickflips, but they looked like they were having fun. They taught me a few tricks and during a vacation I spent a week really throwing myself into the culture. I never got be a great skater, but I made some contacts and as the industry grew I was able to transition my career into working with athletes and event promoters.”
Felicia Darlington Hawkins III, Class of 2002, moved from a career in real estate law to representing the owners of luxury yachts.
“For many of these yacht owners, they treat them like second or third homes. For others, they run them like rental property. Most of my work involves brokering deals and reviewing contracts, sometimes arranging rentals. These ships are bigger than a lot of people’s homes. I’m talking about super yachts of 150 feet and up. Most of the contracts I deal with are easily in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Bo Smith, Class of 1997, spent several years working in Chicago before moving to Minnesota to take care of his sick mother. While not exclusively an alternative sports lawyer, he has come to represent several prominent winter sportsmen, as well as becoming one of the nation’s premiere ice fishermen.
“I find that ice fishing puts me into a Zen-like state. It’s almost as though the fish can sense a void and they swim into it. I also bait my hook with Cheez Whiz.”
After imparting tips on changing from a more traditional legal career, the three fielded questions from the audience. One student asked about ways to expand alternative sports at the law school.
Bo Smith suggested that a start would be to make the ice-rink a year-round installation, with each 1L section forming a broom hockey team. Unsurprisingly, White felt the money and space would better be used as a skate park, with free board rentals available to students.
“It’s a great way to work out all that tension from studying for finals.”
Darlington Hawkins suggested that the space would be put to better use as a surface for lawn tennis, or perhaps more relaxing pastimes.
“I envision a lovely space with tea service and perhaps croquet. Many people may think it’s passé, but several of the yachts I’ve seen commissioned over the past few years have included a croquet green in addition to the usual golfing facilities.”
“That’s just stupid,” replied an indignant White, “Do we need to do anything more to enforce the elitism that exists at this school? Why don’t we let the kids have some fun?”
“And I suppose breaking a leg or attracting punks from all around Cambridge is your idea of fun,” Darlington Hawkins retorted.
“Why don’t we just put some picnic tables out there when the weather gets nice?” suggested Smith, trying to lessen the building friction in the room.
“How prosaic,” said Darlington Hawkins, “What next, barbeques?”
“Lame, lame, lame,” replied White. “At the very least, they should leave the space open so this school could get a decent Ultimate Frisbee team going.”
Assistant Dean for Career Services Mark Weber broke in before tempers grew too heated. Thanking the panelists, he invited everyone to stay for refreshments at the back of the room.
“At least they have brie,” Darlington Hawkins sniffed as she surveyed the snacks table.