Human beings are involved in sports activities since times immemorial. From the earliest days of human civilization till date, sports have developed from a mere source of personal entertainment to a global industry comprising more than 3% of world trade. In the UK, sports provide employment to more than 420,000 people. It is one of the largest revenue generating industries of the world and with the proliferation of the Internet and other forms of media, the sports industry is set to grow even at a faster pace in the future. An industry of billions of dollars with a pervasive global presence is bound to breed its own disputes and this resulted in the growth and development of sports law as a separate discipline in its own right.
Sports law is no longer an applied law or an amalgam of laws in some jurisdictions, which have taken the lead and enacted separate legislation concerning sports. For instance, in India sports figures in the Concurrent list of the Seventh Schedule (entry 33) of the Constitution on which both the union and state legislatures are competent to make laws. There are already 3 States; Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, which have enacted laws on regulating sports activity including registration, regulation and recognition of Sports Associations (Uttar Pradesh has since repealed the Act).
In the field of sports, the club is the basic unit at the grass root level. At the top of the hierarchy are the international sports bodies for each sports made up of national bodies of different countries. The national sports bodies again consist of the provincial or state bodies of different countries. The provincial state bodies comprise the different districts or clubs.
In many countries, such as India, national as well as provincial sports bodies, clubs, associations or societies are usually set up under the law of societies. These are autonomous non-profit making private bodies. Further, many of these are also established as non-profit associations under the company law jurisdiction in the UK and commonwealth countries including India. These organizations cannot distribute their surplus or make payment of dividends to members. Their surplus, if any, has to be solely and wholly applied for furtherance of organizational objectives.
In many countries, such as India, these national sports bodies field the national team representing the country for participation in international competitions where good performance is a matter of pride for the entire nation. They consider the players for participation and selection. These bodies also award telecasting and broadcasting rights to the successful bidder for hefty sums and also earn revenues from advertisement in sports events. They also take disciplinary action against the erring players including debarring them from the game. These bodies control even domestic matches or games within the country.
Though in the narrow legal sense these are private bodies, yet in reality they are performing important public functions in the field of sports where national or public interest is at stake, similar to public or governmental authorities as regulators and facilitators of the game in the field of sports. Accordingly in the said countries including India for enforcement of their public duties and obligations prerogative Constitutional Writs of High Courts lie against these private bodies like any public or Government Authority.