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The Big Leagues Go to WashingtonCongress and Sports Antitrust, 1951-1989$
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David George Surdam

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039140

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039140.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Big Leagues Go to Washington

David George Surdam

University of Illinois Press

This book examines the economics of the antitrust aspects of the three professional sports leagues—Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), and the National Basketball Association (NBA)—based on the information presented at the hearings conducted by Congress during the 1950s. In the late 1800s, Americans worried about the growing concentration of economic power in the hands of large corporations and big trusts such as oil, railroads, steel, meat packing, and tobacco. In response, Congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. While owners of professional sports teams may not have resembled industrialists, they labored under the same antitrust statutes. This book explores some of the major issues tackled in the Congressional hearings, including mergers between rival football and basketball leagues, player rights, general antitrust exemptions, territorial rights, franchise relocation and sales, franchise expansion, and television policies.

Keywords:   economics, professional sports leagues, Congress, merger, player rights, antitrust exemptions, territorial rights, franchise expansion, Congressional hearings, Sherman Antitrust Act

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