Without the participants, there would be no sport, and it is therefore logical that we should begin our examination of law and recreation by considering the various ways in which the law protects, controls and otherwise affects participants of all descriptions.
If they are professionals, then they will be intimately involved with the law of contract in its application to contracts of employment, sponsorships, promo-tions and so on. But even amateur sportspersons cannot avoid some contact with this area of the law, if only when they enter a competition and agree 'to be bound by the rules' of that competition.
In addition, all sportspersons, whether amateur or professional, are entitled to some protection against the consequences of unjustified and unexpected injury, either on the field of play or to their reputation as athletes. They are also both protected and bound by the normal criminal law of the land, and may not use the cover of a sporting event to commit crimes against the person which would not be tolerated off the field.
At the same time, they are only partly protected by those laws against sexual and racial discrimination which the rest of us now take for granted.
Professionals may 'come under contract' in a variety of ways. They may, like the professional footballer, be retained under a permanent contract of employment which dictates that they must devote their talents exclusively to the one club. Alternatively, they may be 'freelance' in the sense that, each season, they seek the best return, and the best management backing they can, from an available range of sponsors (a process best exemplified by the 'team' system in professional motor racing). Yet again, they may 'sign up' for a particular sporting event, such as a professional golf tournament player who competes for prize money, or a cricketer for a cricket touring series. They may even agree to lend their names to a commercial product such as a snooker cue or a tennis racket, or they may be persuaded, for a fee, to constitute the star attraction at the opening of