They Are a Monopoly (The Team Is My Team)

From Fair Pay, Fair Play pages 75 and 121-123.

In Fair Pay, Fair Play: Getting the Pro-Team Sports We Want at Prices We Can Afford, the pro-teams sports and leagues are described as monopolies (monopoly My Teams operating within a cartel league). This is how our government describes monopoly (and monopoly power).

The Department of Justice (DOJ) represents the United States in court, including in antitrust and fair-trade cases. It has a discussion of monopoly power on its website and the opening sentence points out its dangers: “Monopoly power can harm society by making output lower, prices higher, and innovation less than would be the case in a competitive market.”

It sets out the elements of monopoly power in these words: “Monopoly power is conventionally demonstrated by showing that both (1) the firm has … a high share of a relevant market and (2) there are entry barriers … that permit the firm to exercise substantial market power for an appreciable period.”  It notes how various court rulings have established 70% or more as a high share of the market. And a little later, it notes the relevant product market “is defined with regard to demand substitution, which focuses on buyers’ views of which products are acceptable substitutes or alternatives.” (See

There are many examples in the book describing our unique relationship with a pro-team-sports franchise, but this one on page 75 may be the most relevant here.

Paul Lukas, operates the website. When the NBA announced its jersey- logo plan in 2016, he wrote an article and gave this example of team loyalty “Let’s say I’m a Yankees-hating Mets fan (which happens to be true). And let’s further say, just hypothetically, that the entire Mets team is traded for the entire Yankees team later today—25 guys for 25 guys. Who do I root for tomorrow? That’s easy: I root for whoever’s wearing a Mets uniform, even if it happens to be 25 guys I hated the day before.”

As fans, we can all relate. To the fan, the “relevant market” for a professional baseball, basketball, football and hockey team is one. My Team has a 100% share of the market. There is no substitute. Even if you live in a community like New York, Chicago or Los Angeles with multiple baseball, basketball and hockey teams, the market (as Lukas noted above) is still one. And the barrier to entry is intensely personal. At each game we are told “Here are your ___,” and deep inside we say “yes they are, they’re My Team.” And this is why we live out all the dangers mentioned by the DOJ—lower output (and poorer output—bad teams), high prices (and taxes) and innovations (commercialization) that only they want.

So, Jane and Joe fan, it’s your turn to speak out. Tell the story of your relationship to your My Team. How enduring is it? Why? How do you behave when your My Team has a game? How does your My Team help you bond with members of your community? How did you feel when your My Team left town? You get the idea. Don’t hold back (but keep it clean). Below the comment box you can see what the team is saying on this issue.

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