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The National Football League Anti-trust Law


The world of professional sport in America undergoes several negative features. The thing is that in most of the leagues represented in the United States the economical issues became dominating over the direct approach to the sport. The National Football League (NFL) during its long-lasting development is colored today, as the sphere where business interests seem to be more significant. The public opinion outlines that among fans and observers of the activities maintained in the NFL there is a great attitude toward antitrust. This idea is emphasized in the paper. Major points are concentrated on what the essence of contemporary development in the NFL is. Furthermore, the idea of the antitrust status of the league is primary today for society. Professional sport is the domain of competition and challenges, and it cannot just represent business struggle among teams.

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General evaluation

The conduct of professional sport in the United States is the sphere where competition and entertainment are united to warm up the concernment of the fans and ordinary viewers. In this respect, the performances of teams are significant for making a challenge for the best ones. However, this field of activities is also interesting for the business circles. The ability to predict matches by means of financial inputs is outlined today with the interests of magnates and the richest people of the US. Such an assumption is not new. It is apparent for today’s NFL due to various cases when teams were bribed or somehow prevented from reaching the top of ratings. Such negative cases fell into trials not only in NFL but in other professional leagues. For instance, the Supreme Court comments on such cases of antitrust as follows: “No professional sports league operating throughout the country can function successfully if it is subject to inconsistent antitrust regulation depending upon the forum chosen for an antitrust attack” (Mishkin, 2009, p. 5). This is why the idea of an antitrust attitude is viable for publicity today.

It is necessary to admit that antitrust exemptions touched upon every professional sports league or association in the United States. The thing is that the major manufacture companies have deals with the leagues in the United States. American Needle, Nike, Reebok, and others are in favor of the American sport. The disagreements which appear nowadays consider the urge of the teams for changing their equipment sponsor. Such cases are frequent when among teams. This is why the antitrust laws seem for NFL a simple practice, in fact.

NFL and antitrust law

The point is that the antitrust case, called American Needle Inc. (ANI) versus NFL was huge and most significant for the sport. Bearing hats and caps of ANI are claimed to be mandatory for NFL. However, the representatives of NFL claimed for their reasonable action to change the requirements of the agreement. The trial was useful for both parties of the process. It is because of the facts and arguments which were represented. Munson (2009) observed the peculiarities of the trial in their fullness and thinks that to decide the future of the law by means of numerous anti-trust cases is Armageddon. The author admits that the antitrust attacks on NFL are considered with the disagreement that it is a single entity (Munson, 2009). Notwithstanding that NFL defended the trial; ANI promoted new requests to the Supreme Court. Such a case of stubbornness is reasoned by the intention of the company to have also immunity production on the players of the NFL (Munson, 2009). The advantage for NFL is in its straightforwardness in claims and its distinct position about lawful decisions which the league made. ANI, on the other hand, is driven by business interests in terms of such a popular kind of sport in America.

Pros and cons

Just like the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 this trial gives a way for making agreements of NFL with equipment companies more transparent and rational (The Associated Press, 2009). The consensual feature was lacking initially. It concerns also the antitrust cases considered with team merchandise. The Associated Press (2009) comments, that with such disturbances inside the structure of the league NFL looks like a league of one team. Such evaluation confirms that in NFL business-related prospects are at a core today. As a result, the precedents for cases in the Supreme Court appear. However, NFL succeeds in the litigation process. This is why anti-trust law seems to be an instrument for the regulation of the leagues’ personal intentions disregarding the official law. “If the NFL is successful, then players, maverick owners, networks, paraphernalia manufacturers, fans and others will find themselves conducting business with what would be one of the most powerful cartels ever” (Munson, 2009, p. 1). This statement has a hidden sub-sense of the systematic approach in the league. Nonetheless, the points of the process were determined at large. This is why there is no objection to the NFL as of allegedly prior business interests.


To conclude, the antitrust law as for NFL was of great concern among the highest bodies of power in 2009. The positive side of the litigation is that it did not provide harmful effects on the leagues’ schedule of games for a season. On the contrary, the defense in the process only means its continuation with opponents of the NFL for an undefined period.


Munson, L. (2009). “Antitrust case could be Armageddon.” Web.

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Mishkin, J. A. (2009). “American Needle Inc vs. National Football League.” Web.

The Associated Press. (2009). “NFL wants Supreme Court to hear antitrust case over team merchandise.” Web.

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