Photo courtesy Marc Edelman
February 19, 2009
To paraphrase an old saying: In spring, a young person’s heart turns to thoughts of the national pastime. With spring training under way, fantasy baseball enthusiasts are conducting due diligence as they pore over magazines and books to plan their teams for the new season.
Thousands will participate in hundreds of leagues, some just for fun, others for cash prizes in the five figures. Don’t be misled by the word “fantasy”; this is a billion-dollar industry, and the popularity can be the source of major problems as outlets are inundated by too many players that cause computer servers to crash, information to be lost, and chaos to ensue. With so much money at stake, arguments about the rules can get serious and downright nasty.
When things start to get testy, Marc Edelman gets busy. Edelman, a visiting assistant professor at Rutgers School of Law in Camden, is founder of SportsJudge.com.
“We provide alternative dispute resolutions for people that play fantasy sports,” said Edelman in a telephone interview. “If you’re a member of a league and there’s a disagreement over how a rule…should be interpreted or about how winnings should be allocated…rather than that being decided by a member of the league themselves that has their own interests, it’s outsourced to us.”
Edelman and his staff team of about 30 provide case law and precedents to solve these disputes.
A single resolution goes for $15. You can also engage the service on a retainer-like basis for $100. Other services — such as drawing up a league constitution — are also available. “We provide legal and arbitration services which in any other sector would go for $200 to $500,” said Edelman, who maintains the low price structure out of a love for sports.
Edelman began SportsJudge.com about three years ago although he had been “unofficially” advising on such issues since law school at the University of Michigan, where he also earned a master’s degree in sports management.
His devotion to the website presented a unique challenge last spring while he was working on a Birthright Israel trip.
As might be expected, internet access was limited. Edelman attended to business “at two to three in the morning when everyone else was sleeping, finding the open laptop, trying to get Hebrew lettering converted over to into English lettering, using all the spare shekels in my back pocket, and continuing to oversee Sports Judge.”
Like many young fans, Edelman inherited his love for baseball from his father, who took him to games as a reward for attending Shabbat morning services when he was in elementary school.
He also created a companion blog for the website (sportsjudge.blogspot.com), which features articles from doctors, lawyers, and economists rather than sportswriters. “We all focus on our areas of expertise. Our goal is…to put a higher level of analytics and our personal life practice behind the articles and behind the information,” said Edelman.