Private and Yet Public: The Schizophrenia of Modern Sports and Judicial Review
Volume 8 Issue 3-4 (2015)
Increased monetisation of sports has necessitated greater intervention of formal regulatory instruments of the state, including review of decisions of the governing bodies by courts. But the appropriate doctrinal terrain for such judicial scrutiny has been a matter of profound controversy. This paper looks at the scope of judicial review over sporting bodies as public bodies and argues that in spite of few exceptions, most countries have favoured recognition of sporting bodies as public institutions that are subject to duties higher than those enjoined upon private persons. At the same time, courts have been cautious about equating these bodies with state and have refused to subject these bodies to the entire gamut of constitutional obligations that apply to state or its instrumentalities. Nonetheless, there is a lack of uniformity on the extent of judicial scrutiny over sports bodies with countries and courts differing on the standard and scope of scrutiny. In this regard the Indian experience of judicial review over sports regulators stands out as a particularly activist model which may substantially impinge on the autonomy of sporting bodies.