Article by: Jeffrey Standen
41 PEPP. L. REV. 349 (2014)
The study of sports law is interesting because sports contests provide a microcosm for the observation of rules in action and a laboratory for experiments in legality. In no setting will this experiment play out on a grander scale than the coming realignment of college athletics. Presenting a myriad of issues, conference realignments will present an important question of antitrust law. Unfortunately for the colleges and conferences, the answer to that question is mostly speculative. Antitrust law relies on the “rule of reason” as a touchstone for addressing the legality of anticompetitive conduct, comparing the benefits and costs to consumer welfare with the change in business practices under review. What is reasonable, or more specifically, what the benefits and costs are to consumer welfare, will perforce be different in different markets and at different times. In other words, the enforcement of antitrust law is subject to temporal variance. The legality of any perceived anticompetitive business arrangement will depend on the timing and circumstances of the market in which the business operates.