Why the 'Single Entity' Defense Can Never Apply to NFL Clubs: A Primer on Property Rights Theory in Professional Sports
37 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2008
Date Written: 2008
This article argues that as a matter of law and economics, clubs in the four premier American sports leagues lack sufficient unity of interest for any court to classify them as "single entities." Part I of this article discusses the contemporary law-and-economics theory underlying the allocation of private and common property. Part II explains the three different property-rights systems that have emerged in American professional sports: (1) the pure private property system (no unity of interest); (2) the pure common property system (complete unity of interest); and (3) the mixed-mode system (partial unity of interest). Part III describes the contractual underpinnings of the mixed-mode property system, as that system applies to the four premier American sports leagues. Part IV analyzes the allocation of property rights in the mixed-mode system and explains why sports clubs operating in that system cannot form a "single-entity" league.
Keywords: sports law, antitrust, Sherman Act, single entity, Copperweld, American Needle, licensing, National Football League, NFL, NFL Properties
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