Sports Legislation in the 106th Congress
CRS Report for Congress
Sports Legislation in the 106 Congress
Gary L. Galemore
Analyst in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
Over the past few decades, Congress and other federal agencies have given greater
attention to public policy issues associated with amateur and professional sports in the
United States. Congress has focused on sports in the context of other public policy
issues: antitrust, labor relations, immigration, gambling and other criminal behavior,
player and fan violence, broadcasting and cable issues, taxation, drug abuse and testing,
federal spending relative to the conduct of U.S. held Olympic Games, sports franchise
relocations, legal and illegal gambling, and equal access for women to sports programs
at educational institutions.
This report identifies legislation introduced during the 106th Congress that would
directly affect either amateur or professional sports in the United States. This legislation
is grouped by policy issue. Additional issue categories and legislation will be added as
appropriate during the 106th Congress. For related reading, see CRS Report RS20880,
Sports Legislation in the 107th Congress; CRS Report RS20460, Title IX and Gender
Bias in Sports: Frequently asked Questions; and CRS Report RS20710, Title IX and Sex
Discrimination in Education: An Overview.
The history of professional and amateur sports in the United States is replete with
legal battles, congressional investigations, and regulatory and legislative actions. The
perception that sports is a “public trust,” and must be protected, has resulted in Congress’s
implementing public policy with the underlying objective of guaranteeing the public fair
access to sports. Congressional and other governmental action over the last three decades
has had several public policy objectives. It has promoted parity in competition, attempted
to reduce racial and gender discrimination, facilitated spectator access through television,
and diminished athlete exploitation. In general, it could be said that Congresses prior to
1960 assumed the role of sports facilitator, rather than the more modern role of sports
regulator, often content to let amateur and professional sports regulatory bodies monitor
and correct problems within their sports.
After 1960, dramatic growth, both monetary and in popularity, of the sports industry
(television played a huge role in that process) and conflicts within the sports industry
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served to draw greater congressional attention, often at the request of the sports industry
itself. The advent of televised broadcasting of sports events and the ever greater
economic returns on sports activities combined to make sports, and its problems (like
player strikes and team relocations) more visible to the public and government officials.
The inability or unwillingness of major sports organizations to regulate and manage their
own affairs properly was also coming into question. The public image of sports as
recreation and diversion was giving way to one of sports as big business.
The clash of these two different images of the sports industry became apparent with
the establishment of the House Select Committee on Professional Sports in 1976. The
select committee was charged with conducting an investigation into all aspects of
professional sports for the express purpose of determining the need for legislation or other
forms of government intervention. All of the major professional sports were investigated.
Congressional intervention, it was determined, might be required to reduce the
detrimental impact of money on the intrinsic value of athlete competition. During this
same period, amateur athletics also came under increased scrutiny. President Gerald R.
Ford, with Executive Order 11868 of June 19, 1975, created the President’s Commission
on Olympic Sports. This panel was charged with investigating the conduct and
supervision of Olympic sports, and contributed to the development of the Amateur Sports
Act of 1978. This Act restructured the United States Olympic Committee to lessen the
ongoing conflict among various U.S. amateur sports organizations. The investigation was
considered necessary because the conflict within the amateur sports industry was
detrimental to American Olympic efforts. Congress had passed Title IX of the Education
Amendments of 1972 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in educational
programs or activities receiving federal funding. Although Title IX was not aimed
specifically at sports, it has become instrumental in promoting sports equality for female
athletes at high schools and colleges around the nation. It continues to be a controversial
and highly debated law.
The executive branch has also been active in making sports policy. The Federal
Communications Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, the Department of
Labor, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Justice Department, and other
federal agencies have all played key roles in amateur and professional sports issues over
the last 30 years.
Those who seek the intervention of Congress, the executive branch, or the courts, in
the problems of amateur and professional sports do so because private sports
organizations that control sports enterprises are sometime perceived, either properly or
improperly, as unable or unwilling to protect the public interest in these matters. In no
small way, the tremendous growth in the monetary value of professional sports teams (to
owners and local communities), rising player salaries and more effective player unions,
escalating television and cable revenues and increasing competition for limited sports
programing, demands for gender and racial equity, and taxpayer investments in stadiums
and U.S. held Olympic Games have only raised the level of, and potential for, conflict in
the sports world. Congress and other government institutions now find themselves
playing the roles of regulators, arbiters, facilitators, sports reformers, and guardians of the
public trust. Because of the ongoing popularity of sporting events, the potential for great
monetary rewards, and conflict among the many competing actors in the sports industry,
congressional interest, oversight, and intervention in matters concerning the sports
industry seem unlikely to diminish.
Sports Legislation in the 106th Congress
Immigration. S. 262—The Baseball Diplomacy Act. Introduced by Representative
Jose E. Serrano on January 6, 1999, this legislation would waive current foreign
assistance, trade, and travel prohibitions against Cuba and allow Cuban nationals who
enter the United States on visas to play organized baseball and return to Cuba with their
baseball earnings. It would prohibit the President from denying visas to Cuban nationals
based on current authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act, which restricts any
entry of aliens or classes of aliens who would be detrimental to the interests of the United
States. The proposed legislation indicates its provisions would not be affected by the
current economic embargo requirements against Cuba, under the Cuban Liberty and
Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996. The bill has been referred to the House Committee
on International Relations and the Committee on the Judiciary (Subcommittee on
Immigration and Claims).
Boxing. S. 143—The Professional Boxing Safety Act Amendments of 1999.
Introduced by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan on January 19, 1999, this legislation
would amend the Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996 to standardize the physical
examinations that a professional boxer must take prior to each boxing match. It would
also require a brain computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan every two years as a
requirement for the licensing of a boxer. The bill has been referred to the Senate
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
S. 305—The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. Introduced by Senator John
McCain on January 25, 1999, this legislation would protect professional boxers from
exploitation by requiring that all contracts between boxers and promoters contain specific
terms regarding the length of time the contract covers and the minimum number of fights
per year, limiting “option contracts” to one year, prohibiting a promoter from forcing a
boxer to hire the promoter’s associates or relatives, and prohibiting any conflicts of
interest between the manager of a boxer and the promoter.
This legislation would require professional boxing sanctioning organizations to
establish objective and consistent criteria for rating professional boxers; make public their
bylaws, ratings criteria, and roster of officials; inform boxers in writing that their rating
has been changed and why; and report to a state boxing commission the fees and expenses
they receive for sanctioning a bout. Fees would be limited to established sanctioning fees
The bill also would require that state boxing regulatory commissions be informed
by boxing sanctioning bodies of all charges and fees they impose on the boxer(s)
competing in an event, as well as all payments and revenues the sanctioning body
receives. Promoters affiliated with each boxing event would have to file, with the state
commission prior to the event, a complete and accurate copy of all contracts they have
with the boxer(s) pertaining to an event, and disclose in writing all fees and costs they will
assess on the boxer(s). The legislation would exempt club level boxing (less than 10
rounds) matches. The changes brought about by this legislation would be enforced
through civil and criminal penalties and would allow additional enforcement by state
Attorneys General. This bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce,
Science, and Transportation.
H.R. 1240—Professional Boxing Integrity Act. Introduced by Representative James
A. Traficant on March 23, 1999, this legislation would amend the Professional Boxing
Safety Act of 1996 to prohibit the promotion of any professional boxing match held in any
state that does not require that scoring by boxing judges be made public after each round.
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Commerce (Subcommittee on
Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection) and to the Committee on
Education and the Workforce (Subcommittee on Workforce Protections).
H.R. 1832—The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. Introduced by Representative
Michael G. Oxley on May 17, 1999, this legislation would protect professional boxers
from exploitation by requiring that all contracts between boxers and promoters contain
specific terms regarding the length of time the contract covers and the minimum number
of fights per year, limiting “options contracts” to one year, prohibiting a promoter from
forcing a boxer to hire the promoter’s associates or relatives, and prohibiting any conflicts
of interest between the manager of a boxer and the promoter. This legislation is the
House version of the Senate bill, S.305, introduced by Senator McCain, and explained in
greater detail above . This bill has been referred to the House Committee on Commerce
and to the Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Antitrust. H.R. 532—The Give Fans a Chance Act of 1999. Introduced by
Representative Earl Blumenauer on February 3, 1999, this legislation would limit the
antitrust exemption applicable to broadcasting agreements made by professional sports
leagues. It would make such exemption inapplicable to a league for any period during
which any member club is (1) subject to such league’s requirement, or to an agreement
made by two or more member clubs, that forbids any of such clubs to transfer an
ownership interest in such club to any government entity or to members of the general
public; or (2) not in compliance with specified requirements.
The legislation would require a member club or a league to furnish notice of a
proposed relocation of a club out of a community in the club’s home territory not later
than 180 days before the commencement of the season in which the club is to play home
games in the proposed new location, subject to specified requirements. It would provide
that, during the 180-day notice period, a local government, stadium, arena authority,
person, or any combination thereof may prepare and present a proposal to purchase the
club to retain the club in the home community; and would require the club and/or the
league to give a local government, stadium authority, person, or any combination thereof
the opportunity to prepare and present a proposal to induce the club to remain in its home
The bill also would direct the league to make a determination, before the expiration
of the 180-day notice period, with respect to the relocation, and would provide for
hearings and consideration of the proposal. In addition, the bill would set criteria for
relocation decisions to include the extent to which fan loyalty and support for the club has
been demonstrated. This legislation has been referred to the House Committee on the
S. 952—To Expand Antitrust Exemptions to Sports Leagues Who Assist in Financing
Stadium Construction. Introduced by Senator Arlen Specter on May 4, 1999, this
legislation would expand the antitrust exemption to professional sports leagues for their
participation in the financing of certain stadium construction activities. This legislation
has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
Taxation. S. 224—The Stop Tax-Exempt Arena Debt Issuance Act. Introduced by
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan on January 19, 1999, this legislation would amend the
Internal Revenue Code to treat certain bonds used directly or indirectly for financing
professional sports facilities as private bonds and not as qualified bonds, except for
certain approved projects, facilities with final bond resolution, and current refunding.
This legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.
H.R. 3096—Stop Tax-Exempt Arena Debt Insurance Act. Introduced by
Representative Marshall Sanford on October 18, 1999, this legislation amends the Internal
Revenue Code to treat certain bonds used directly or indirectly for financing professional
sports facilities as private activity bonds and not as qualified bonds, except for certain
approved projects, facilities with final bond resolutions, and current refunding. This
legislation has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
S. 952—Stadium Financing and Franchise Relocation Act of 1999. Introduced by
Senator Arlen Specter on May 4, 1999, this legislation expands an antitrust exemption
applicable to professional sports leagues and to require, as a condition, participation by
professional football and major league baseball sports leagues in financing and
construction of sports stadiums. This bill was referred to the Senate committee on the
Olympic Reform. H.R. 1370—The International Olympic Committee Reform Act
of 1999. Introduced by Representative Henry A. Waxman on April 12, 1999, this
legislation would amend the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 to prevent persons
doing business in interstate commerce from providing financial support to the
International Olympic Committee (IOC) until the IOC adopts institutional reforms which
would ensure that future Olympic games are awarded to host cities in an impartial
manner. This legislation has been referred to the House Committee on Commerce.
S. 797—The International Olympic Committee Integrity Act of 1999. Introduced by
Senator John Ashcroft on April 14, 1999, this legislation would apply the Corrupt
Practices Act of 1977 to the activities of the International Olympic Committee. The bill
has been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
S. 803—To Make the International Olympic Committee Subject to the Foreign
Corrupt Practices Act of 1977. Introduced by Senator John McCain on April 14, 1999,
this legislation would make the International Olympic Committee subject to the Foreign
Corrupt Practices Act of 1977. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on
Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
Student Athletes. H.R. 1449—Collegiate Athletics Integrity Act of 1999.
Introduced by Representative Bart Gordon on April 15, 1999, this legislation would
amend Title 18 of the United States Code to prohibit various types of contact between
college athletes and sports agents seeking influence with athletes. The bill has been
referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
Gambling. S. 2021—High School and College Sports Gambling Prohibition Act.
Introduced by Senator Sam Brownback on February 1, 2000, this legislation would
prohibit gambling on high school, college, and Olympic sports, including in states where
such gambling was permitted prior to 1991. This bill has been referred the Senate
Committee on the Judiciary.
S. 2050—Combating Illegal College and University Gambling Act. Introduced by
Senator Harry M. Reid on February 9, 2000, this legislation would establish a panel to
investigate the scope of illegal gambling on collegiate sports and recommend effective
countermeasures to prevent illegal gambling. This legislation is identical to H.R. 3800,
introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Jim Gibbons. This bill has
been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
H.R. 3800—Combating Illegal College and University Gambling Act. Introduced
by Representative Jim Gibbons on March 1, 2000. This legislation would establish a
panel to investigate illegal gambling on college sports and to recommend effective
countermeasures. This legislation is identical to S. 2050, introduced by Senator Harry M.
Reid. This bill has been referred to the House Committee of the Judiciary.
H.R. 3575—Student Athlete Protection Act. Introduced by Representative Lindsey
O. Graham on February 3, 2000, this legislation prohibits high school and college sports
gambling in all States, including States where such gambling was permitted prior to 1991.
This legislation has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
H.R. 4284—Illegal Sports Betting Enforcement Act of 2000. Introduced by
Representative Shelley Berkley on April 13, 2000. This legislation establishes an Amateur
Sports Illegal Gambling Task Force, increases penalties for illegal sports gambling and
requires studies of the gambling behavior of minors. The bill has been referred to the
house Judiciary Committee (Subcommittee on Crime).
Drug Testing and Gambling. S. 2267—Amateur Sports Integrity Act.
Introduced by Senator John McCain on March 22, 2000, this legislation has been divided
into two distinct titles. Title I directs the National Institutes of Standards and Technology
to establish and administer grant programs that support research and training in methods
aimed at detecting and preventing the use of performance-enhancing substances by
athletes. Title II of S. 2267 prohibits gambling on high school, college and Olympic
sports, whether that gambling is part of a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting or
wagering scheme. Title II amends the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act
(chapter 2205 of Title 36, United State Code), by adding a new chapter to that law. This
legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and
S. 2340—Amateur Sports Integrity Act. Introduced by John McCain on April 3,
2000, this legislation requires the Director of the National Institute of Standards and
Technology to establish a program to support research into the use of performance
enhancing substances and methods for detecting their use. The bill also amends the Ted
Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act to make it unlawful to gamble on Olympic,
High school and college sporting events or their athletes. This legislation was referred
to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.