Sports Legislation in the 107th Congress
CRS Report for Congress
Sports Legislation in the 107 Congress
Gary L. Galemore
Analyst in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
As a result of increasing conflict within the sports industry 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 related public policy areas. These areas
are: antitrust, labor relations, immigration, 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,
oversight of the boxing industry, youth sports activities, and equal access for women to
sports programs at educational institutions.
The report identifies legislation introduced during the 107th Congress that would
have directly affected amateur, professional, or youth sports in the United States. This
legislation is grouped by policy issue. Additional issue categories and legislation has
been added as appropriate during the 107th Congress. For related reading, see CRS
Report RS20201, Sports Legislation in the 106th Congress; CRS Report RS20710, Title
IX and Sex Discrimination in Education: An Overview; and CRS Report RS20460, Title
IX and Gender Bias in Sports: Frequently Asked Questions.
The history of professional, amateur, and youth sports in the United States is replete
with legal battles, congressional investigations, and regulatory and legislative actions.
The perception that sports are 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 Congress, prior to 1960, assumed the role of sports facilitator, rather than the more
modern role of sports regulator, and was often content to let amateur and professional
sports regulatory bodies monitor and correct problems within their sports.
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
After 1960, dramatic sports industry growth, both in finances and in popularity, and
conflicts within the industry served to draw 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 (such as player strikes and team relocations), more visible to the public and
government officials. The ability or willingness of major sports organizations to regulate
and manage their own affairs properly was also coming into question. The public
perception of sports as recreation and diversion was giving way to one of sports as big
The House Select Committee on Professional Sports, established in 1976, was
charged with conducting an investigation into all aspects of professional sports for the
express purpose of determining whether legislation, or other forms of government
intervention, might be required to reduce the detrimental impact of money on the intrinsic
value of athletic 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, and contributed to the
development of the Amateur Sports Act of 1978 (now the Ted Stevens Olympic and
Amateur Sports Act, 36 U.S.C. 220501 et seq.). This act restructured the United States
Olympic Committee to lessen the ongoing conflict among various U.S. amateur sports
organizations. An 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 gender in educational programs or activities receiving federal funding. Although
Title IX was not aimed specifically at sports, it became 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, the
Department of Education, and other federal agencies have all played key roles in amateur
and professional sports issues over the last 30 years.
The intervention of Congress, the executive branch, or the courts in the problems of
amateur and professional sports has been primarily to protect the public interest. 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 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 and tension among the many competing actors in the
sports industry, congressional interest, oversight, and intervention in matters concerning
this industry seem unlikely to diminish.
Sports-related legislation introduced during the 107th Congress will be identified and
tracked in the following pages.
Sports Legislation in the 107th Congress
H.R. 26—Baseball Diplomacy Act. Introduced by Representative José E. Serrano
on January 3, 2001, this legislation would have waived foreign assistance and trade
prohibitions against Cuba under specified federal laws with regard to certain transactions,
including: (1) Cuban nationals who enter the United States on visas to play organized
professional baseball; and (2) the return of their baseball earnings to Cuba. The bill
would have prevented the President from denying visas to such nationals based upon
authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act to restrict any entry of aliens or class
of aliens that would be detrimental to the interests of the United States. It also would
have declared that the Act would not be affected by the economic embargo requirements
against Cuba under the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996. This bill
was referred to the House Committee on International Relations and the Committee on
the Judiciary (Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims).
H.R. 916—Stop Tax-Exempt Arena Debt Insurance Act. Introduced by
Representative Barney Frank on March 7, 2001, the bill would have amended 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 in-
progress or approved projects, facilities with final bond resolutions, and current refunding.
This bill was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
S. 338—National Collegiate and Amateur Athlete Protection Act of 2001.
Introduced by Senator John E. Ensign on February 14, 2001, this legislation would have
ordered the Attorney General to establish a prosecutorial task force on illegal wagering
on amateur and collegiate sporting events. The task force would have coordinated the
enforcement of federal laws that prohibit gambling on amateur and collegiate sports. It
would also be required to submit an annual report to Congress outlining progress toward
this goal. It would have authorized appropriations of $4 million in FY2002 and $6
million in each year thereafter through FY2006.
The bill would have increased penalties for illegal sports gambling and promoted
studies (two) to determine the extent of sports gambling among minors and on college
campuses. It would have ordered colleges and universities to establish programs to
reduce illegal gambling on their respective campuses in order to retain their eligibility for
programs authorized under the Higher Education Act of 1965. This bill was referred to
the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
H.R. 1110—Student Athlete Protection Act. Introduced by Representative Lindsey
O. Graham on March 20, 2001, the bill would have amended Section 3704 of Title 28 of
the United States Code to prohibit high school and college sports gambling in all states
including states where such gambling was permitted prior to 1991. This bill was referred
to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
H.R. 641—To Protect Amateur Athletics and Combat Illegal Sports Gambling.
Introduced by Representative Jim Gibbons on February 14, 2001, this legislation directed
the Attorney General to establish a prosecutorial task force to combat illegal wagering on
amateur and collegiate sporting events and it increased penalties for illegal sports
gambling. This bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee and the House
Committee on Education and the Workforce (Subcommittee on 21st Century
S. 1085—Olympic Sports Revitalization Act. Introduced by Senator Paul D.
Wellstone on June 21, 2001, this legislation amended the Ted Stevens Olympic and
Amateur Sports Act to authorize the Secretary of Commerce to make grants to a District
of Columbia corporation for Olympic sports determined by the Secretary of Education to
be emerging sports or ones being discontinued by colleges and universities.
It amended the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require reporting under the Equity
in Athletic Disclosure Act of institutions discontinuing or reducing funding for college
sports and orders the creation of an internal process for appeal and notification to be
established by those institutions. This bill was referred to the Senate Commerce, Science,
and Transportation Committee.
H.R. 4906—J. Dennis Hastert Scholar Athlete Act of 2002. Introduced by
Representative James A. Leach on June 11, 2002, this legislation amended part A of Title
IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to authorize the Secretary of Education to make
grants to states to award scholarships for one to four years of study at institutions of
higher education to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding academic and athletic
achievement and show promise of continuing that achievement. It allowed the Secretary
of Education to enter into agreements with states to assure that the scholarship program
was administered to comply with specified requirements. Special emphasis was required
of sports that are a part of the Olympic Games or were not significant revenue generators
at particular institutions. This bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and
S. 1704—Fairness in Antitrust in National Sports Act of 2001. Introduced by
Senator Paul D. Wellstone on November 14, 2001, this legislation would have amended
the Clayton Act to bring the business of Major League Baseball under the antitrust laws
in matters relating to the elimination or relocation of a major league baseball franchise.
It also would have granted standing to bring legal action under this Act to any
person, including major and minor league baseball players, federal, state, and local
governments, and any stadium authority injured by violation of this Act. This bill was
referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
H.R. 3288—Fairness in Antitrust Laws in National Sports Act of 2001. Introduced
by Representative John Conyers, Jr. on November 14, 2001, this legislation is identical
to S. 1704 (see entry above), introduced by Senator Paul D. Wellstone. This legislation
was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. Hearings were held on December
H.R. 3257—Give Fans a Chance Act of 2001. Introduced by Representative Earl
Blumenaur on November 8, 2001, this legislation removed the antitrust exemption on
professional sports leagues applicable to broadcasting agreements if clubs are forbidden
by leagues to transfer ownership to governmental entities or the general public or are not
in compliance with certain relocation or elimination requirements stated in the bill. This
bill was referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
S. 893—National Boxing Commission Act of 2001. Introduced by Senator Harry M.
Reid on June 16, 2001, this legislation established the National Boxing Commission to
protect the health, safety, and general interests of boxers. The bill set forth provisions
for licensing and registration, and required certain record keeping by the Commission.
This legislation would have allowed the Commission to suspend or revoke licenses,
cancel boxing matches, and conduct investigations and issue injunctions against violation
of this Act. This legislation was referred to the Senate Commerce, Science, and
S. 2550—Professional Boxing Amendments Act of 2002. Introduced by Senator John
McCain on May 22, 2002, this legislation amended the Professional Boxing Safety Act
of 1996 to (1) required an Indian tribe to establish a boxing commission ro regulate
professional boxing matches held on reservations; (2) prohibited a person from arranging,
promoting, or fighting in a match in a State or Indian land unless the match is approved
by the United States Boxing Administration USBA), also established by this Act, and
supervised by a boxing commission that is a member of the Association of Boxing
Commissions; and (3) required each promoter who intends to hold a match in a state that
does not have a boxing commission to notify the USBA. The USBA was established by
this legislation to protect the health, safety, and general interest of boxers. The
Administration was to establish and maintain a national registry of boxing personnel and
medical records and medical suspensions for every licensed boxer. It would have the
authority to revoke or suspend a boxer’s license or registration, as appropriate. This bill
was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and
reported favorably from that Committee.
H.R. 5006—Professional Boxing Amendments Act of 2002. Introduced by
Representative Peter T. King on June 24, 2002, this legislation amended the Professional
Boxing Safety Act of 1996 and established the United States Boxing Administration.
This legislation was the House version of S.2550 described above. This bill was referred
to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the House Committee on
Energy and Commerce (Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection).
H.R. 4701—Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act. Introduced by
Representative Bart Gordon on May 9, 2002, the bill would have prohibited an agent from
(1) directly or indirectly recruiting or soliciting a student athlete to enter into an agency
contract by giving false or misleading information or making a false promise or
representation of by providing anything of value to the athlete before entering into such
a contract; (2) entering into an agency contract with a student athlete without providing
the required disclosure document; or (3) predating of postdating an agency contract. It
required an agent, in conjunction with the signing of an agency contract, to provide to the
athlete a separate disclosure document that includes notice that if the athlete signs the
contract he or she may lose eligibility to compete as a student athlete in that sport. It
further required the student athlete to sign such document before signing the agency
This legislation would have treated as a violation an unfair or deceptive act or
practice under the Federal Trade Commission Act and authorized civil actions by state
attorneys general under specified circumstances. The agent and the athlete, within 72
hours after entering into an agency contract or before the next athletic event in which the
athlete may participate, whichever occurs first, was required to provide notice to the
education institution that the athlete has entered into an agency contract. Educational
institutions have the right of action against an agent for damages caused by such agent’s
failure to provide such notice. This bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy
and Commerce (Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection).
Subcommittee hearings were held and the full Committee reported out the measure on
October 7, 2002.