Sports Legislation in the 108th Congress

CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS W eb
Sports Legislation in t he 108 Congress
Analys t i n American N ational Government
Government and Finance Division
As a result o f i ncreasing conflict within the s ports industry over t he past few
decades, C ongress and federal a g e n c i es have gi ven greater attention t o public policy
issues associ at ed with am at eur and professional s ports in the United S tates. Congress
has focused on sports in the contex t of t he following public policy areas : antitrust, labor
relations, immigration, player and fan violence, broadcas ting and cable issues , t ax ation,
drug abuse and testing, federal spending related to the conduct of U.S.-held Olympic
Games, sports franchise relocations, l egal and illegal gam bling, oversight of the box ing
i ndust ry, youth sports activities, and equal access for wom en t o s port s program s a t
educational i nstitutions.
This report i dentifies l egislation i ntroduced during t he 108 th Congress that would
directly affect am at eur, professional, or youth s p o r t s in the United S tates. This
legi slat i o n ( S . 275, S.Res. 40, H.R. 189, H.R. 361) is grouped by policy i ssue.
Additional i ssue categories and legi sla tion will be a d d e d t o t he report as appropriate
during t he 108th Congress. Fo r related reading, see CRS Report R S20201, Spo r t s
Legislation i n t he 106 th Congress; CRS Report R S20880, Sports Legislation i n t he 107 th
Congress ; CRS Report R S20710, Title IX and Sex Dis cr i m i n a tion i n Education: An
Overvi ew ; CRS Report R S20460, Title IX and Gender Bias i n Sports: Frequently Asked
Questions ; and CRS Report R L31709, Title IX, Sex Discrimination and Intercollegiate
At hl et i cs: A L egal Overvi ew .
The history of professional, am at eur, and youth s ports in the United S tates i s replete
w i t h legal battles, congressional i nvestigations, and regulatory and l egislative actions.
The p erception t hat s ports are a “public trust,” and must be protected, h as re s u l t ed i n
Congress’s implementing public policy with the underlyi ng objective o f guaranteeing the
publ i c fai r access t o s port s . C ongressi onal and other governm ent act i o n over t he l ast few
decades has h ad several public policy objectiv es. It h as promoted parity in competition,
attempted t o reduce racial and gender d iscr imination, facilitated s pectator access t hrough
television, and diminished athlete ex ploitation.

Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress

In general, it could b e s aid t hat C ongress, prior t o 1960, assumed t he role of sports
facilitator, rather than the m ore m odern role of sports regu lator, an d was often conten t t o
l e t a m a t e u r a n d p r o f e s s i o n a l s p o r t s r e gu l a t o r y bodies mon i t o r a n d c o r r e c t p r o b l e m s w i t h i n
After 1960, dramatic sports industry growth, both i n finances and i n popularity, and
conflicts within the i ndustry served t o d raw congressional attention, often at t he request
of the s ports industry itself. The advent of televised b roadcasting o f s ports events and t he
ever great er economic returns on s ports activities combined t o m ake s ports, and related
probl em s (such as pl ayer st r i k e s a n d t eam re locations), more visible t o t he public and
government offici al s. The ability or willingnes s of m aj or sports organizations to regulate
and m anage t heir own a f f a i r s p roperly was also coming i nto question. The public
perception o f s ports as recreation and divers ion was gi ving way t o one of sp o r t s a s big
The House S elect Committee o n P rofes s i onal S ports, established i n 1976, was
charged with conducting an i nvestigation i nto all aspec t s o f p rofessional s ports for t he
ex press purpose o f d etermining whether le gi slation, or o t h e r forms of government
intervention, might be required t o reduce t he detrimental impact of money on t he intrinsic
value of athletic competition. During this same period, amateur athletics also came under
increased scrutiny. P r e s i d ent Gerald R . Ford, with Ex ecutive Order 11868 of J une 19,
1975, created t h e P resident’s Commission on Olym pic S ports, and contributed to the
development o f t he Amateur S ports Act o f 1978 (now the Ted Stevens Olympic a n d
Amateur S ports Act, 36 U.S.C. 220501 et seq.). This ac t r e s t ructured the United S tates
Olym pic C ommittee t o l es sen t he ongoing conflict among various U.S. am at eur s ports
organi z at i ons. An i nvest i gat i o n was consi d ered necessary because t h e confl i ct wi t h i n t h e
amateur s ports industry was detrimental to American Olym pic efforts.
Congress had p assed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to prohibit
discrimina t i o n o n t he basis o f gender i n educational p rograms o r activities receiving
federal funding. Although Title IX was not aimed s pecifically at sports, i t b ecame
instrumental in promoting s ports equality for female athletes at h igh s chools and colleges
around the n ation. It continues t o b e a controversial and high ly debated l aw. On J une 27,
2002, Rod P aige, S ecretary o f Education, established t he Commission on Opportunity in
Athletics. The commission was t as ked with collecting i nformation and anal yz ing i ssues
pertaining to the application o f current federal s tandards for measuring equal opportunity
for m ale and female participation i n athletics at high s chools and colleges under Title IX.
The commission forwarded its 23 recommendat i ons t o t h e S ecret ary at t he end o f
Febr u a r y 2 0 03. The S ecretary d id not act on any o f t he recommendations of the
The ex ecut i v e b ranch h as been act i v e i n m a k i n g s port s pol i cy. The Federal
Communications Commission, the National Labor Relations Bo ard, the D e p a r t m ent o f
Labor, t he J u stice Department, t he Department of Education, and o ther federal agencies
have al l played key roles i n amateur and professional s ports issues over t he last 30 years.
The i ntervention o f C ongress, the ex ecutive b ranch, or the courts in the p roblems o f
amateur and professional s ports has b e e n primarily to protect the public interest. In no
small way, t he tremendous growth in the m onetary value o f p rofessional s ports (to o wners
and l ocal com m uni t ies), ri si ng pl ayer sal ari es and m ore effect i v e p l ayer uni ons, escal at i n g

television and cable revenues and increas ing competition for limited s ports programing,
demands for gender and racial equity, and tax payer investments i n s tadiums and U.S.-held
Ol ym pi c G am es have rai s ed t h e l evel of, and potential for, confl i c t i n t he sports world.
Congress and other government institutions now find them selves playing t he roles of
regu lators, arbiters, facilitators, s ports reformers, and guardians of the public trust.
Because of the ongoing popularity of sports events, t h e potential for great monetary
rewards, and conflict and tension among the many competing actors i n t he sports industry,
congressional i nterest, oversight, and intervention i n m atters concerning this industry
seem unlikel y t o diminish.
Sports-related l egislation i ntroduced during t he 108 th Congress is identified and will
be tracked in the following pages.
Spor ts Legi sl ati on i n t he 108 th Congr ess
S. 275 — Professional Boxing Amendments Act o f 2003. In troduced by Senator J ohn
McCain on February 4, 2003, t h i s l e gi slation would amend the P rofessional Box ing
Safety Act o f 1996 and would establish t he United S tates Box ing Administration (USBA)
within the Department of Labor. This l egislation would further (1) require the USBA t o
est abl i s h a m edi cal regi st ry and m edi cal record keepi n g o f l i censed p rofessi onal box ers;
(2) m ake s afety s tandards uniform for all box ing commissions; (3) require promoters t o
post s ecurity with box ing commissions to ensure paym ent o f purses t o box ers; (4) i nclude
tribal organizat i o ns under t he term “box ing c ommissions”; (5) require that sanctioning
organiz ations adopt ratings gu idelines an d c r i teria d eveloped b y t he USBA; (6) require
judges and referees to be certified and appointed by b o x i n g commissions for m atches
without i n t erference from s anctioning organi z ations; (7) establish minimal contractual
provisions between box ers and man a ge r s ; and (8) requi re m o re st ri ngent fi n anci al
disclosure for promoters and s anctioning organizations. This l egislation was referred t o
the S enat e C ommittee on C ommerce, Science, and Transportation. It was ordered to be
reported with an am endment i n t he nature of a s ubstitute.
H.R. 1281 — Professional Boxing Amendments Ac t o f 2 003. In troduced by
Representative P eter T. King on March 13, 2003, this legi slation wou l d a m e n d t he
Professional Box ing S afety Act of 1996 and establish t he United S ta t e s B o x i n g
A d m i n i s tration (USBA). The bill es tablishes t he USBA as part of the Department o f
Labor t o prot ect t h e h eal t h , s afet y, and gen eral i n t erest s o f box ers, and t o ensure
uniformity, fai rness, and i ntegrity in professional box ing. It es tablishes s tandards for the
i ssuance , s u s p ensi on, and t erm i n at i o n o f box i n g l i censes, and m ai nt ai ns a n at i onal
computeriz ed regi stry for box ing p ersonnel. This legi slation was referred t o t he House
Energy and C ommerce C ommittee and the House C ommittee on Educat ion and the
H.R. 361 — Sports Agents Responsibility and Trust Act. In trodu ced by
Representative Bart Gordon on J anuary 27, 2003, this legi slation would prohibit an athlete
agent from (1) recruiting or s oliciting a student at hlet e t o enter into an agency contract by
gi ving false or misleading i nformation, making a false promise or r e p r esentation, or

providing anyt hing of value t o t he athlete b efore entering i nto s uch contract; (2) entering
into an agency contract with a s tudent athlet e without providing the required d isclosure
document; or (3) p redating o r postdating an agency contract. This l egislation would t reat
as a v iolation an unfair o r d eceptive act or pr actice under t he Federal Trade Commission
Act and authoriz e civil actions by state attorneys general under s peci fied circumstances.
The agent and t he athlete, within 72 hours after entering into an agency contract or before
the nex t athletic event i n which the athlete may participat e, whichever occurs first, would
be required t o provide notice t o t he educational i nstitution t hat t he at hlet e has entered i nto
an agency contract . Educational i nstitutions would have t he ri gh t o f a ction against an
a g e n t f o r damages caused b y s uch agent’s failure to provide such notice. This bill wa s
referred t o t he House C ommittee on Energy and Commerce and the House C ommittee on
S. 1170 — Sports Agent Responsibility and T r ust Act. In troduced by Senator R on
W yden o n J une 3, 2003, this legi slation d es ignates certain conduct b y s ports agents
rel at i n g t o t he si gn i n g o f cont ract s wi t h st udent a t h l et es as unfai r and decept i v e act s o r
practices to be regulated by t he Federal Trade Commission. This bill was referred t o t he
Senate Committee on C ommerce, Science, and Transportation.
H.R. 189 — Baseball Diplomacy Act . Introduced by Representative J osé E . S errano
o n J anuary 27, 2003, this legi slation would waive foreign assistance and t ra d e
prohibitions against C uba under s pecified federa l l aws with regard to certain transactions,
incl udi n g (1) C uban nationals who enter the United S tates on visas to play organized
professional b aseball; and (2) the return of t heir baseball e a r n i n gs t o C uba. The bill
would p revent t h e P resident from d enyi ng visas t o s uch n ationals based upon authority
under t he Immigration and Nationality Act t o res trict any entry o f aliens or class o f alien
that would be det rimental to the i nteres ts of the United S tates. It al so would decl are t hat
the Act would not be affected by the economic embargo requirements against Cuba under
the C uban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act o f 1996. This bill has b een referred t o
the House C ommittee on International R el ations and t he House C ommittee on t he
H.R. 1451 — Student Athlete Protection Act. Introduced by Representative Tom
Osborne on March 26, 2003, this legi slati o n would amend the federal judicial code to
prohibit high s chool and college sports gambling i n all states, i ncluding states where s uch
gambling was permitted prior to 1991. The bill makes i t unlawful t o gamble o n s ports in
lotteries , s weepstakes , or other betting, gambling, or wagering schemes bas ed, directly or
indirectly, o n h igh s chool or college sports events, or on t he Summer or W inter Olympic
Games. This legi slation was referred t o t he House C ommittee on t he J udici ary.
H.R. 2745 — Baseball Fan Protection Act. In troduced b y R e presentative Dennis
Kucinich J r. o n J uly 15, 2003, this legi sla tion would amend the Internal R evenue Code
of 1986 to require a s ports franchise to provide for all of the games played by a franchise
to be available for local television broadcas ting i n order to be subject to the presumption

t h at 50 percent o f t he consi d erat i o n i n t he sal e or ex change of a s p o r t s f ranchi s e i s
allocat ed to player contract s. This legi slation was referred t o t he House C ommittee on
H . R . 3 144 — United States Olympic Committee Ref orm Act. Introduced b y
Representative C liff S tear n s o n S e ptember 23, 2003, this legi slation would amend the
federal charter of the United S tates Olympic Committee t o restructure that body. It was
referred t o t he House C ommittee o n t he J udici ary.
H . R . 3 3 30 — United States Olympic Committee Ref orm Act. Introduced by
Representative S teve Bu yer o n October 17, 2003, this legi slation would amend the federal
charter o f t he United S tates Olympic Committee t o restructure that body. It was referred
to the House C ommittee on t he J udici ary.
S. 1404 — United S tates Olympic Committee Reform Act . Introduced by Senator
J ohn McCain on J uly 1 5 , 2003, this legi slation would amend the federal charter o f t he
United S tates Olympic Committee t o restructure that body. T he bill was reported from t he
Senat e C o m mittee o n C ommerce, Science, and Transportation o n J uly 28, 2003, and
passed t he Senate on Septem ber 23, 2003. It was referred t o t he House C ommittee o n t he