Sports-Related Lawsuits Are on the Rise

Casey Martin, who suffers from a rare circulatory condition that has no cure, made headlines this Spring when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled he could use his cart on the PGA tour.

Now, disabled athletes across the country are following his lead by asking judges to apply the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act to other sports.

Tedo Watkins was a talented high school basketball player with sickle cell anemia. It didn't affect his game, but did prevent him from completing mandatory endurance drills in practice. That, he says, led to his being dropped from the team.

"Being that I was a senior, you know, I couldn't go nowhere else and play," said Watkins. "And by them doing that, basically he cut my legs off."

Watkins sued, saying he had been discriminated against because of his disability. A jury agreed and awarded him $20,000.

"I wanted everybody to know what happened," he said.

The Disabilities Act bans discrimination against the disabled in public accommodations, including golf courses and entertainment sites.

But in a strongly worded dissent in the Martin case, Justice Anthony Scalia warned that letting the courts set the rules for sports could have serious repercussions, like some baseball players being allowed a fourth strike.

Scalia wrote "One can envision the parents of a little league player with attention deficit disorder trying to convince a judge that their son's disability makes it at least 25 percent more difficult to hit a pitched ball."

Critics agree that sports decisions should be left up to the referees and umpires, and not the courts.

"The court's role should be zero. Zilch. Nothing. Nada," said Edward Hudgins of the Cato Institute.

"Courts should have nothing to say about how athletic associations run their affairs."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Claudia Cowan currently serves as Fox News Channel's (FNC) San Francisco-based correspondent. She joined the network in 1998.