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Congress and Professional Sports: 1951-1978

Arthur T. Johnson
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 445, Contemporary Issues in Sport (Sep., 1979), pp. 102-115
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1042959
Page Count: 14
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Congress and Professional Sports: 1951-1978
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Abstract

The relationship between government and professional sports is analyzed by reviewing Congressional activity relative to professional sports during the period 1951-1978. During this time, nearly 300 pieces of sports legislation have been proposed. Congressional concern with sports is explained by the impact of sports events, such as franchise moves, upon specific constituencies, and league-initiated requests for assistance. Conflicting perceptions in Congress of professional sports as pure sport and big business help explain a change in Congress' posture toward the sports leagues. The politics of professional sports is explored, and a Congressionally defined right to access is identified and explained. The article concludes that due to Congress' changing perception of professional sports, it has, on occasion, enacted legislation opposed by the leagues. Nevertheless, the political influence of club owners combined with the persistence of an idyllic image of sports within Congress make such instances rare.

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