Sport is organized among individuals and among teams, and is professional or amateur. Most of the interesting questions on the economics of sports relate to professional team sport, which is the focus of this paper. Over the histories, and until very recently, in some leagues, players have been restricted from moving between clubs within a league. Club owners have claimed that reservation of players or the imposition of transfer fees was necessary to maintain financial soundness of small clubs and to preserve competitive balance within leagues. The significance of sports in the United States is seemingly undeniable as sports activities, teams, personalities, and scores filter through the media and the social, education, and economic landscapes (Henry 1999). For this reason antitrust issues in the sports marketing context present complex challenges for the courts, legislature, and public policymakers.
History of Sports in the United States.
In the 1800's, sports activities were mainly the domain of wealthy men who participated in polo, yachting, and tennis. One exception is baseball, "America's game," which has experienced 150 years of popularity (Kurkjian 2000). Many athletes and entrepreneurs in the last century catapulted sports from luxurious pastimes into the fabric of the U.S. culture (Gildea 1999; Lupica 1996; Seagrave 2000). In addition, the organizational aspects of sports were significantly strengthened and formalized in the past century, including the creation, expansion, and development of leagues that establish rules, procedures, and governing bodies for their respective sports. .
The twentieth century brought a dramatic increase in the economic role of sports, which now generate more than $400 billion annually in the United States through sponsorship, stadium construction, licensing, apparel, equipment, media investments, and spectator expenditures (Burton 1999; Hunter and Mayo 1999).