Designing Sports Leagues as Efficient Monopolists Rather Than Inefficient Cartels


An inherent conflict exists when clubs participating in a sports league control the way in which the competition is organized. This conflict leads to fewer franchises that may not be in the best locations, fewer broadcast rights sold with too many “black-outs,” inefficient marketing of merchandise and sponsorships, ineffective supervision of club management, labor market restrictions that do not enhance consumer appeal in the sport, and insufficient international competition. We suggest that sports leagues would be more profitable and fans’ welfare improved if sports leagues looked more like McDonald’s and less like the United Nations, by restructuring the leagues to create a separate company (NFL, Inc.) that would make key decisions and limit the club owners to participating in the competition.


Antitrust and Trade Regulation | Entertainment, Arts, and Sports Law

Date of this Version

March 2004