There Will Be Blood . . . Testing: The Intersection of Professional Sports and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008

There Will Be Blood . . . Testing: The Intersection of Professional Sports and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008

Jesse A. Bland · 13 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. 357

Abstract

Genetic testing, professional baseball, and employment discrimination seldom intersect. This Note changes that. Thanks to scientific breakthroughs in genetic research over the past half-century, genetic testing is a powerful tool for producing rich, individualized information. Progress comes at a price, however. As genetic testing has advanced and become more prevalent, so too has the potential misuse of genetic information. A recently enacted federal law–the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)–seeks to eliminate one such threat by prohibiting the improper use of genetic information in employment decisions. While the law gained congressional momentum after tales of abuse in blue-collar industries, this Note explores the Act‘s potential impact on an industry at the other end of the compensation spectrum: professional sports. To be sure, genetic testing is far from widespread in the professional sports landscape. The enormous potential value of genetic testing in this industry, however, ensures that genetic information will play an increasingly relevant role in professional sports. Accordingly, the Act raises a number of implications for sports organizations that use genetic information in hiring decisions. This Note explores GINA‘s potential impact on professional sports by analyzing the relevant statutory exceptions and practical obstacles that threaten to impede the statute‘s applicability in this context. Ultimately, it argues that, regardless of any statutory or practical barriers, the Act should protect professional athletes just as it protects stadium custodians.