Many professional sports associations have a rule that a member may not participate in a tournament, game, or contest sanctioned or sponsored by a rival association or promoter. If a member athlete does compete in a contest in violation of the rule, the association may remove the offending athlete from the membership list with a consequent loss of eligibility to compete in association-sponsored competition. The purposes of such an eligibility rule are to suppress competition from rival leagues and to retain exclusive rights to the member athletes' performances. Such an arrangement may be viewed as an attempt to coerce or harm a competing association by restricting an intermediate third party, a member athlete. The offending association is effecting a refusal to deal between member athletes and the rival association by enforcement of the eligibility rule. The thesis of this article is that use of the eligibility rule is a secondary boycott (group boycott) illegal per se under the Sherman Act.
Mark F. Anderson,
The Sherman Act and Professional Sports Associations' Use of Eligibility Rules,
47 Neb. L. Rev. 82
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol47/iss1/6