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The Origin of the Reserve Clause: Owner Collusion versus 'Public Interest'

  • E. Woodrow Eckard

    (University of Colorado, Denver)

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    This article examines the creation of the first professional athletic labor market restriction over a century ago. In 1879, professional baseball club owners mutually agreed that each could reserve five players whom the others would not sign without permission, justifying the action by claiming that it was in the "public interest," that is, necessary to preserve the game in the face of various alleged problems. Analysis of the relevant data reveals that these problems were either nonexistent or easily solved within the game's existing rule structure. Given the lack of support for the public interest arguments proffered by owners, the more likely motive for the reserve rule was monopsonistic collusion.

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    File URL: http://jse.sagepub.com/content/2/2/113.abstract
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    Article provided by in its journal Journal of Sports Economics.

    Volume (Year): 2 (2001)
    Issue (Month): 2 (May)
    Pages: 113-130

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    Handle: RePEc:sae:jospec:v:2:y:2001:i:2:p:113-130
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