Major League Sports – Major League Anti-Trust

Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled against the Nation Football League in a case concerning the NFL’s decision to give Reebok the exclusive merchandising license for all thirty-two NFL teams.

The case was filed against the NFL by Bob and Ron Kronenberger — the owners of American Needle, founded in 1918 by their grandfather who originally approached the Chicago Cubs in 1946 with the idea of selling fan caps similar to those worn by the players.  The first lot sold out in one day; the second in less time — and a (highly profitable) tradition of selling logo’d sports items for professional teams was born.

The Supreme Court ruling isn’t entirely clear on the scope of the anti-trust actions the NFL engaged in, but chief justice Stevens likened the NFL to a cartel.  The case was sent back to lower courts to resolve several issues.

I guess the fact that a price jump of $19 to $30 for a cap didn’t help the NFL’s case in arguing that no harm was done to the public by monopolizing the licensing.

The courts ruling, and subsequent lower court rulings (which may involve jury rulings) will undoubtedly reshape the landscape of all professional sports licensing — hopefully benefiting the consumer, and curbing the greed and lavish profits.

Originally posted 2010-05-25 02:00:52.