For a guy who thought sports were fun, and liked to say, “Fun is bullshit,” Judge Harry Pregerson has had a significant impact on the application of antitrust law to major league team sports. Harry’s landmark ruling forty years ago in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission v. National Football League, which rejected the NFL’s single-entity defense (“Single Entity Ruling”), helped improve the lives of others. The Single-Entity Ruling opened the door to significant franchise movement in professional teams sports, which in turn caused the big shots running major league sports to be more responsive to market forces in at least three ways. First, the Single-Entity Ruling ushered in a new era of franchise movement, especially in the NFL. Second, it exposed to antitrust scrutiny a variety of anticompetitive practices other than franchise relocation policy. Third, the Single-Entity Ruling helped spawn new forms of sports ownership that were designed, among other things, to evade antitrust scrutiny by looking more like genuine parts of a single business entity. Harry’s ultimate vindication came almost thirty years later, in American Needle, Inc. v. National Football League, in which the Supreme Court, without citing the Single-Entity Ruling by name, nevertheless embraced Harry’s reasoning and result, and did so unanimously.
Ruiz Cameron, Christopher David,
The More Things Stay the Same, the More They Change: The Influence of Judge Harry Pregerson on Franchise Movement Policy In Professional Team Sports,
61 Santa Clara L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.scu.edu/lawreview/vol61/iss1/9