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Is There Life after Death for Sports League Immunity? American Needle and Beyond

Meir Feder, Villanova Sports and Entertainment Law Journal, Vol. 18, No. 2, 2011

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Readers vote is closed since March 1st, 2012. Readers’ vote has nominated 2 articles for each of the Awards. This short list has been communicated to the Board, with the articles nominated by the Steering Committees. The Board will decide on the award-winning articles on March 27, at the Awards ceremony to take place in DC. See vote results online here.

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American Needle, Inc. v. National Football League decisively rejected the argument that a professional sports league is a “single entity” exempt from Section I antitrust scrutiny, yet this immunity argument had barely been interred before some commentators sought to articulate alternative grounds for immunizing sports leagues and other joint ventures from scrutiny. This Essay argues that these new theories of sports league immunity – one of them based on American Needle itself, and another rooted in an enigmatic statement by the Supreme Court, in Texaco Inc. v. Dagher, about the “core functions” of joint ventures – are inconsistent with both American Needle and with bedrock principles of antitrust law.

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