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Nader Says Commission Would Develop National Sports Policy and Code of Ethics and Protect the Interests of Players, Fans, Taxpayers, and Other Sports Participants at All Levels

League of Fans Calls for Special Committee to Determine the Feasibility and Parameters of Such a Commission

Ralph Nader announced today that his League of Fans organization is working toward the establishment of a National Sports Commission to develop an integrated national sports policy and provide an important coordinating mechanism for sports in this country.

“Currently, sports organizations have free reign in the United States,” said Nader. “In effect, monopoly is our form of sports regulation. As such, professional sports franchise owners, league commissioners, and other power brokers are the de facto crafters of sports policy in this country — which too often is based on win-at-all-costs (WAAC) and profit-at-all-costs (PAAC) ethos. Significant sports reform in this country, given the plethora of recurring scandals, will be extremely difficult without a dramatic change in how this country’s overarching sports policy is developed. A National Sports Commission, made up of commissioners representing all sports stakeholders, would be a positive step forward.”

The League of Fans believes a National Sports Commission would be ideally positioned to develop a national sports policy and a national code of sports ethics, conduct research and analysis on contemporary sports issues, serve as an arbitrator and regulator in clearly defined areas, and be a clearinghouse for all sports stakeholders in the country.

Ken Reed, the League of Fans sports policy director, said the United States is one of the few countries in the world that doesn’t have a national, government-sponsored-or-endorsed sports commission, sports ministry, or some other entity that plays a significant role in the development of the country’s sports policy.

“Our professional sports leagues have long operated as taxpayer-subsidized monopolies, free from the natural regulation of a competitive marketplace, and for the most part, free from any anti-trust concerns,” says Reed. “That fact is troublesome in its own right and leads to abuses of fans and other problems. However, the most pernicious effect of allowing wealthy sports franchise owners and other sports powerbrokers, who have a vested economic interest, to basically set the country’s sports policies and priorities is that it’s seldom in the best interests of all sports stakeholders — or the games themselves. The negative ramifications of policies set in this fashion trickle all the way down to sports at the youth and community levels.”

Reed pointed to the recent NFL, and current NBA, work stoppages, along with the out-of-control, greed-based conference realignment frenzy in NCAA Division I sports, as examples of what happens when there’s no coherent, integrated sports policy in this country that takes into account the interests of key sports stakeholders and what’s best for the sports themselves.

The League of Fans contends a National Sports Commission would have broad-based, bipartisan support.

Conservative Michael Novak has called for a “semipublic, partly governmental and partly private” National Sports Commission with “clearly specified powers of regulation, arbitration, research and supervision” in the sports realm.

Bruce Svare, a professor at the University at Albany, SUNY, and founder of the National Institute for Sports Reform, has said, “The establishment of a National Sports Commission is a must if we are to make any headway in our desire to reform sports to benefit all of our athletes and all of our citizens.”

The League of Fans believes the first step is to create a special committee, authorized by Congress, to examine the feasibility, viability, and potential impact of a National Sports Commission. The special committee would be comprised of sports leaders from all levels of sports, members of Congress, fans, athletes, and other stakeholders, including taxpayer groups. This group would also be charged with developing potential roles and responsibilities for the Commission.

The announcement came in conjunction with the release of the League of Fans’ ninth report, “It’s Time to Establish a National Sports Policy,” from its Sports Manifesto. The full report is available at the League of Fans website.

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