United States Senator Richard Blumenthal

The SPORTS Act

About the SPORTS Act:

The SPORTS (Sustained Promotion of Responsibility in Team Sports) Act aims to hold major sports leagues accountable for their response to major events within their leagues: from domestic violence to traumatic brain injuries. 

Why do we need the SPORTS Act?

When the National Football League fails to respond appropriately to domestic violence, traumatic brain injuries, or other pressing concerns, it sends the wrong message to the league’s millions of fans and to the public.

The NFL—like the NBA, NHL, and MLB—isn’t just a recipient of the public’s trust; it’s a major beneficiary of public benefits provided by Congress. And perhaps no public benefit does more for the major sports leagues than their exemption from the antitrust laws that bind other American businesses. Largely unchanged since 1961, these exemptions have provided significant financial support and other benefits for the leagues regardless of their actions.

How the SPORTS Act will Hold Leagues Accountable

The professional sports leagues’ antitrust exemptions under the 1961 Sports Broadcasting Act, and the comparable treatment for MLB, will sunset one year after the bill’s enactment.

Reporting on Leagues' Behavior

95 days before each time the exemption is scheduled to sunset, a special commission, composed of heads of Executive Branch offices with jurisdiction over issues relevant to the leagues, will provide Congress with a report regarding the leagues’ behavior. The Commission’s report will discuss how the leagues have treated their employees and how they have responded to inappropriate conduct by their employees and owners.

The Commission’s report will ensure that when Congress decides whether to grant the leagues a public benefit—their antitrust exemptions—it has access to a thorough, fair, and honest assessment of whether the leagues have served or harmed the public interest.

Voting To Reauthorize Anti-Trust Exemptions

Congress will go through an expedited process that guarantees an up or down vote on a five year reauthorization. The process will repeat every time the exemptions are set to sunset, creating a system in which Congress has an up-or-down, majority vote on reauthorization every five years. There will be no filibusters or other tactics that could delay a reauthorization and inappropriately disrupt the leagues’ operations.