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'Freedom of Expression' panel to discuss athletes speaking out on social issues, politics


Wed, Mar 6th 2019 04:45 pm

The ongoing controversy and “continuing concern” of athletes’ speaking out and demonstrating on societal and government issues is the focus of “Freedom of Expression: The First Amendment and Athletics,” a panel discussion to be held at the University at Buffalo from noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday in 567 Capen Hall, North Campus.

The event is sponsored and organized by the School of Law’s Center for the Advancement of Sport, a new initiative to train students for jobs in the growing field of sports law and sports business, and the office of inclusive excellence.

The panelists will examine the issue of whether athletes have a moral obligation and legal right to speak out or demonstrate about social issues or politics, said Nellie Drew, director of the Center for the Advancement of Sport, who helped organize the seminar.

“The range of freedom of expression by athletes runs from the iconic stance of Muhammad Ali, to Colin Kaepernick taking a knee, to more recent efforts by Sean Doolittle, a relief pitcher for the Washington Nationals, who has urged other players to support union workers in the apparel industry,” Drew said. “Clearly, this is not an issue in a moment of time, but a continuing concern, given the high-profile nature of athletes in society.”

Serving on the panel are:

•Paul Cambria, a nationally recognized First Amendment attorney with Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria who has represented several professional athletes and entertainers. 

•Lucinda Finley, Frank Raichle Professor of Law at UB and a noted First Amendment attorney who has argued in front of the Supreme Court.

•Lorenzo Alexander, linebacker for the Buffalo Bills with 12 years NFL experience; National Football League Players Association player representative since 2011, NFLPA vice president and member of the executive committee.

•Shane Costa, certified NFLPA agent and director of football operations, Pillar Sports Management LLC. Costa is an alumnus of the UB School of Law who has represented several prominent athletes, including former Buffalo Bill Fred Jackson.

“We are very excited to have such a distinguished panel to provide perspective on the continuing dialogue about the exercise of freedom of expression by athletes,” Drew said.

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