Sports and Antitrust

Credit Hours: 2

An organized sports league presents a unique business model because its members must act as both partners and competitors of one another. The antitrust laws are intended to discourage coordination among business competitors. On the other hand, the business needs of an organized sports league require a considerable degree of such coordination. It is not surprising, then, that amateur and professional sports leagues increasingly find themselves in costly and uncertain antitrust litigation. Courts struggle in these circumstances because precedents drawn from other industries and other contexts are not always helpful. This course seeks to bring coherence to the analysis, exploring how fundamental antitrust principles can properly be adapted to the unique business needs of an organized sport. Issues to be considered include league governance (e.g., agreements among members limiting the number or location of competitors); equipment and behavior standards (e.g., prohibitions on "square-grooved" golf clubs at PGA Tour events; restraints on player mobility or compensation (e.g., draft rules, salary caps, etc.); and the extent to which Congress has chosen to limit application of the antitrust laws to certain sports, Major League Baseball being the most notable. The course will also touch upon what "market" or "monopoly" power means in the context of sports.