April 10, 2011

Sunday Afternoons, NFL and Anti-trust

Sunday afternoons get me thinking about the NFL and with the possibility of a lockout, I'd have to say I'd really miss next year if there were no season.  BUT, and it's a big 'but', I'm not so sure I favor an anti-trust lawsuit against league owners.  Perhaps there is some anti-trust aspect to the lockout - I'm not sure my opinion on that yet - but conceptually I do have one problem with the players' union pursuit of a lawsuit.  Quite simply if the players can collectively strike, why can't owners do something collectively too? How is it anti-trust for owners and not unions?

According to Wikipedia's entry on Antitrust in America,
The American term antitrust arose not because the US statutes had anything to do with ordinary trust law, but because the large American corporations used trusts to conceal the nature of their business arrangements. Big trusts became synonymous with big monopolies. The perceived threat to democracy and the free market these trusts represented led to the Sherman and Clayton Acts. These laws, in part, codified past American and English common law of restraints of trade. Senator Hoar, an author of the Sherman Act said in a debate, "We have affirmed the old doctrine of the common law in regard to all inter-state and international commercial transactions and have clothed the United States courts with authority to enforce that doctrine by injunction." Evidence of the common law basis of the Sherman and Clayton acts is found in the Standard Oil case, where Chief Justice White explicitly linked the Sherman Act with the common law and 16th century English statutes on engrossing. The Act's wording also reflects common law. The first two sections read as follows,
Modern competition law is modeled on the United States' Sherman Act, which aimed to "bust the trusts".
"Section 1. Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal. Every person who shall make any contract or engage in any combination or conspiracy hereby declared to be illegal shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine.... 
Section 2. Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine...."
The Sherman Act did not have the immediate effects its authors intended, though Republican President Theodore Roosevelt's federal government sued 45 companies, and William Taft used it against 75. The Clayton Act of 1914 was passed to supplement the Sherman Act. Specific categories of abusive conduct were listed, including price discrimination(section 2), exclusive dealings (section 3) and mergers which substantially lessen competition (section 7). Section 6 exempted trade unions from the law's operation. Both the Sherman and Clayton acts are now codified under Title 15 of the United States Code. 
Since the mid-1970s, courts and enforcement officials generally have supported view that antitrust law policy should not follow social and political aims that undermine economic efficiency.
I'm not sure anti-trust laws apply or belong in an owner-player dispute.  But it has got me curious about the whole idea of anti-trust laws.  Some digging is in order.

In another vein, here's something mellow, appropriate for a Sunday afternoon.


  1. Last night I watched a great hockey game. The reason I mention this (not only because the Stars loss got my beloved Blackhawks into the playoffs) is because quite honestly, I'm at the point where I could care less about the other three sports, especially football and baseball.

    anti-trust or not, the way the Gvt. has allowed these sports to emerge as they are on the professional level has pretty much destroyed them as an enjoyable attraction.

    now, bact to the Wild. In the other sports we hear all the garbage as to the "professionalism" of the players, the integrity of the teams and all the other B.S. Yet let a team in any other sport be eliminated from contention they will at once fold up their tents and just go through the motions. Get it out of their hair and go home, the hell with the fans who pay to watch Professionals!

    Last night, we saw a team going no where play with pride! We hear it all the time from the talking heads, but we never see it! Last night we did. I salute the Minnesota Wild Hockey team. They could have laid back and helped eliminate a bitter rival. they didn't! This is a lesson not only in pride, but in doing your job to the best of your ability every time, everyday! I would not think twice about using that team as an example of what sports and sportsmen should be for my grandkids! I cannot honestly say that about any of the other sports!

  2. NHL hockey players - mostly Canadian. Minnesota Wild roster 31 players, 23 Canadians. I have to say, hockey players tend to be hard working and low profile, and not just the Canadian ones. I can see why that's appealing as a professional sports role model.

    After football, hockey is my second favorite sport to watch. But I also watch NCAA basketball (specifically March Madness). I used to watch baseball but the Toronto Blue Jays have been abysmal for nearly all of the 20 years since they won the World Series and I'm loyal to the team but frankly, disinterested. That the Yankees don't win every year by sheer force of dollars is surprising.

    Last point - I never liked the Blackhawks, Joe. And it's not even for a logical reason. Back in 1991 dirty player Gary Suter cross checked Wayne Gretzky from behind during the Canada Cup and Gretzky was never really the same after that. Suter played for the Calgary Flames but was on Team USA with Jeremy Roenick (who played for the Blackhawks) for the tournament. I'm not sure why the transference occured but I hated the both Flames and Blackhawks after that.

  3. Here's a link to a story on the dirty hit.



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