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This essay argues that sports law can be more than just a fascinating and topical subject with great appeal to those who work or hope to work in the field. It can also be a valuable intellectual and pedagogical enterprise—even for those who do not or will not work in sports. In particular, sports law can be a useful and clarifying lens through which to study the law more broadly. This is because sports enterprises and issues tend to put unique and potentially illuminating pressures on the law. Ordinary or unexamined assumptions often break down or prove inadequate when confronted with the relatively unique world of sports. This in turn forces scholars, students, and courts to think more deeply about the law—and in the process facilitates that deeper thought.

This essay first describes some of the things that make sports relatively unique and therefore challenging to the law. The bulk of this essay then addresses three specific areas of law: 1) antitrust, 2) trademark, and 3) sex discrimination. These three contexts are used to highlight and illustrate the ways in which sports law can call upon us to rethink what we think we know—and thus can help deepen and clarify our thinking. This essay concludes by suggesting that teachers and scholars of sports law should try to tap the intellectual and pedagogical potential the subject offers.