Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


Richard M. Wise


Recognizing the need for a systematic treatment of the public figure doctrine in relation to professional athletes, this article examines the tension between first amendment rights of free speech and the athlete's right to privacy. The author presents a brief history on the law of defamation and analyzes the differences between limited and general public figures. Supporting a flexible framework of analysis, he proposes close scrutiny of the mitigating factors of time and audience. Only then, he concludes, will the courts be able to protect both the constitutional guarantees of free speech and the athlete's personal interest in his reputation.