Honorary President of IASL

Message by:
Honorary President of IASL
Professor, James Nafziger
Willamette University, USA

            A Tribute to the IASL and to Us All

     Congratulations, IASL! This 25th Congress marks the 27th anniversary of the organization itself. I had the privilege of participating in the First Congress of the IASL in 1992 on "The Science of Sports Law." It built upon a pre-IASL Congress in 1991 organized by the Hellenic Center of Research on Sports Law and the University of Athens. The theme of that Congress was "The Institution of the Olympic Games: A Multidisciplinary Approach" and was held in--where else?--Olympia. The General Secretary of the organizing committee was--who else?--our current IASL President, Professor Dimitrios Panagiotopoulos. 

     Dimitrios, as we all know him, not only helped found the IASL but has been our indispensable leader, serving tirelessly for many years as Secretary-General and for the last few years as President. His ability to produce so much on behalf of sports law development with so few resources has been quite amazing and greatly appreciated. This is not to forget that he still has enough energy at concluding banquets of our Congresses to be a life of the party! Fortunately, too, our ongoing work has always been anchored in Athens, also the site of numerous Congresses, including this one. 

     Like the sailors of ancient Greece, however, our Congresses, as the mainstay of the IASL over the years, have roamed the world. Just consider where we've met outside of Greece: France, Spain, Iran, Uruguay, the United States, South Africa, Slovenia, Mexico, Poland, South Korea, Russia, China, Indonesia, Morocco, and Italy. More important than the venues, of course, have been the substantive programs of the Congresses and the attendance they have generated from among our membership as well as local practitioners, government officials, academic specialists and students. As a result, many of us have established enduring friendships and scholarly exchanges with each other along the way.  That is, of course, an important means of developing sports law and an international regime to govern it.

     Scholarship has always been the primary focus of the IASL. In particular, Dimitrios has been instrumental in promoting scholarly presentations and in steering the work product of our Congresses toward publication in various sports law journals and other publications that he has initiated and nurtured. These publications have had a demonstrable impact on the growth of sports law around the world. Interestingly, the focus of sports law scholarship during the last quarter of a century has both stabilized and expanded. For example, in recently dusting off an abstract of my presentation at the IASL's first Congress in 1992, I noticed my observation that "[t]oday, issues of eligibility, substance abuse, commercialization, spectator violence, and the alternative methods for resolving disputes dominate the attention of international sports lawyers."  Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. 

Despite this continuity of subject matter, however, our scholarship and scholarly collaboration these days has expanded significantly, focusing more than it used to on such issues as, for example, sports injuries and protective gear, gender and other forms of discrimination, the role of the media, the environmental impact of sports competition and inequality in athletic training, facilities and access to competition. Clearly, international sports law has grown impressively as has the subfield of lex sportiva derived from awards and opinions by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The need for specialized research within the increasingly complex discipline of international sports law is obvious. What next?

     The IASL has been a unique and invaluable opportunity for all of us to share experiences and new ideas directed toward the improvement of national and international efforts to govern and otherwise manage a human activity that must surely rank at the top of global popularity, individual and national aspirations and, yes, international solidarity. May we all enjoy another 25 years of successful Congresses and other IASL activities as we extend special thanks and best wishes to our pater familias, Dimitrios!

James A.R.Nafziger

Honorary President