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October 15th, 2009 2:02 am
Forget Health Care … What About Socialism in the NFL?
Posted by Print

The kerfuffle over Rush Limbaugh’s expulsion from the group attempting to buy the Saint Louis Rams has garnered a lot of press coverage today — most of it from those embracing the politics of partisan indignation.

As a man of the right, I take no small umbrage at politics intruding where it doesn’t belong, and professional sports is one of those areas. As a matter of principle, Rush’s bid for the Rams shouldn’t matter any more than it would if Al Franken was trying to get a share of the Vikings or if Maureen Dowd wanted a piece of the Jets (which I would really, really like to see).

What’s getting lost in the shuffle, however, is how much the Limbaugh expulsion reflects that professional sports in general — and the NFL in particular — operates in an unfree market.

Remember that professional sports leagues are essentially cartels, restricting membership and raising bars to entry. Heck, Major League Baseball is even exempt from federal antitrust laws.

In the NFL, this empowers as few as nine of the 32 teams to block the sale of another. To have an atmosphere of such limited competition and to have your competitors empowered to veto your ownership wreaks of an inefficient and dysfunctional market.

Rush got the boot for essentially political reasons, but maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. Otherwise, that champion of capitalism would end up with equity in a system that essentially looks like a medieval guild.

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