Legal formalism is one of the most intensely debated issues in American legal theory, yet rarely from empirical and institutional perspectives. This is a critique of the formalist stance that leads to "blanket applications" of rules in professional sports. Informed by literature from various sources (analytic jurisprudence, sports literature, the sociology of sports and of practice, law and economics, and the philosophy of language) it engages both "old" and "new" formalism in critiquing legal and jurisprudential approaches to rule following as instances of symbolic and functional interpretation in sports law and other comparable contexts.
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