The Sports Law & Policy Centre | Interview with Lovely Dasgupta, Asst. Prof. (Law), WBNUJS
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Interview with Lovely Dasgupta, Asst. Prof. (Law), WBNUJS

Ms. Dasgupta, could you tell us about your journey leading into your current academic position?

My LL.M. experience at WBNUJS inspired me to take up academics as my full time profession and vocation. The idea of teaching and researching got ingrained in me. Though I did my LL.B from Jammu University, it was at WBNUJS that I got oriented to the academic side of law which was equally exciting as the professional side.

What brought about your interest in sports law?

It was Prof. N.R. Madhava Menon who suggested that I write my LL.M thesis on issues concerning sports and law. I decided to research on sports and doping. My interactions with sport administrators both in Delhi as well as NIS Patiala furthered my interest in the area. I got more and more convinced that law has a major role to play not only in ensuring that sports administration in India is conducted professionally but also securing a fair deal for sports persons. 

You have written on diverse issues such as ‘Sports Broadcasting in India’, ‘Sports Law and Culture’, and ‘Players Injury and Liability’. Could you tell us more about your writings on these topics?

As a continuation of my research work in the area of sports and law I wrote my M.Phil thesis on issues concerning Sports Broadcasting. Prof. Chimni gave his critical inputs to help me broaden my understanding of the kind of issues involved in Sports Broadcasting. This research also convinced me that Sports has a significant cultural value in both western and Indian societies. I showed this in my Paper on Sports and Culture, by taking the example of the EU and comparing it with India. However the concerns of sports persons gets lost in the whole debate on sports and law.

In India, the situation is more serious as the players, apart from the cricketers, playing at the national and international level, have no bargaining power, especially when it comes to the question of attributing liability arising out of injury to a player., e.g., a footballer, who is to be made accountable or the club, the relevant governing body or the stadium authorities. These are some of the concerns that I have raised in the papers written so far. However there are numerous other issues ranging from criminal liability of the spectators and administrators for hooliganism to the legality of out of competition tests for doping. Hope to write about them soon.

As an academic, how would you trace the development of the field over the past decade? What are your views on the Draft National Sports (Development) Bill, 2011?

So far as India is concerned the only development that has caught the imagination of legal practitioners are those relating to cricket. Hence IPR issues relating to international cricket matches or IPL are the hot topic. Further, one sees a keen interest being shown about the cricket broadcasting rights sold by the BCCI. We have two Supreme Court decisions on the same. So far as other matters or other sports are concerned I don’t think practitioners or academia have found them as exciting as cricket.

This is sad because one needs to look at all the issues concerning sports and law and not just cricket and law. The problem of the Draft bill is also that it too is targeted at funds generated by the BCCI. Thus the aim appears to force BCCI to share its revenue with the government. Further concerns will also arise as to the autonomy of sports governing bodies as mandated by the International Olympic Committee and the provisions of the Draft. Thus, for e.g., making the National Olympic Committee subservient to the Central government diktat may not go down well with the IOC. The provisions on doping are also susceptible due to the fact that at the level of coaching the politics of winning medals may override the concern for clean sports. Finally no government action will be able to uplift the conditions in sports generally, since the federations will have to be sincere in their efforts to infuse professionalism in running of sports. The question is how willing will the political class be to forgo its hold on sports federations.

Do you think that the level of interest in academic research in the area of sports law has increased? What has been the kind of response you have received from students in relation to sports law?

I will say that students are increasingly showing interests in matters related to sports and law, thanks to efforts of people like Mr. Kamath. The students realise that they have a future in the field. However the interest is not reflected so much in the academic arena. Though we have initiated debates and publications are coming up on sports and law however a lot needs to be done to further the debate. One can say though that the future looks bright as more institutions like WBNUJS are introducing special courses on sports law.

Finally Ms. Dasgupta, what advice would you offer to others considering academic careers in sports law, especially in India?

So far as sports law as a subject area for academics is concerned, things are bright. As I mentioned, institutions in India are opening up to the idea of having courses on sports law. Hence, anyone doing serious research in the field has quite a prospect. Further, since sports and law involves inter-disciplinary research, hence the same will enrich the field of both sports study and legal studies.